Fieldnotes by visual anthropologist Jip van Steenis
I’m sitting on a yellow couch. Cat Toekie is staring at me from her centrally positioned cushion, and I am looking at a movie projected on another cushion. I overhear resident Jacob Dwyer speaking to host Tirza. "I still try to comprehend what I’ve done really" he says whilst looking at his work.
Looking at the movie I get the feeling Jacob really absorbed the environment of this house. The movie is filmed here with, what I presume, a GoPro attached to his head. He grasps items of the house and narrates them to the viewer. It’s as if Jacob associatively loses himself in elements of the interior. The first visitors look at the movie silently. Their silence speaks of amusement.
There is another movie shown on the TV of Tirza’s parents. (Which is a movie within a movie since Jacob puts this one in the dvd-player in the other movie). It’s a sequence of Rose-ringed parakeets in trees. A scene which you can see when you look out from the balcony of this house.
Still every visitor looks at the movies silently. Newly entering people take subtle care of opening the creaking front door. Elki, the photographer of tonight’s documentation, mentions people are so silent because of the low volume of the installation. A tactic of the maker?
Someone looking at the video, supposedly "Daniel", is starring in it. In the footage he guides us to look at the Vondelpark view as a “swampy bogland”. People around Daniel recognise him from the footage and tell him his performance is "awesome".
The sequence of the main video is not that long. Maybe 10 minutes? Some visitors already must have seen it three times in a row.
Whilst looking at the movie I just spilled someone’s beer on the carpet. This makes me aware of the setting again. This is a real house with real people living in it who are just on holiday for the moment. I make sure of cleaning it well.
Elki shares the thought that Jacob’s approach in the video is similar to our approach on the documentation. He observes the environment and reacts to it in a same sort of sense. Although his reality seems a bit (more) surreal.
Funny how the voices of both Jacob and Daniel, featuring in the movie, sound synchronically with the voices of them here right now in real time, talking on the balcony to visitors and friends.
I recognise the downstairs’ neighbour. He and his wife attend these events faithfully. In his hands he holds a sculpture which Jacob takes out of one of the cabinets in his movie. It’s a strange looking figure, like from a different world. The neighbour discusses with Tirza if it is made out of ivory or not.
A broom stabilises the projection-cushion. It’s position is tricky. I’m amazed that no one fell over it yet.
The event officially comes to an end. The evening sun lights the tops of the Vondelpark trees. A few visitors are still seated on the couch, taking in the endlessly looping movie.
Fieldnotes are a method of description cultural anthropologists use to describe things that occur while observing phenomena.
Applying the same method as Jip (but in snapshots), Polarlicht also registrated moments, details and other striking features of the event.
Both fieldnotes and snapshots were made from a personal perspective and were matched up by their time stamps.
This documentation functions as a reconstruction for you, the visitor that couldn't attend the event.