By Annie Tucker (Elemental Productions)
A recent piece in American Anthropologist, “The Balinese Cockfight Reimagined: Tajen: Interactive and the Prospects for a Multimodal Anthropology,” provided a detailed process-oriented account of the conceptualization and making of Tajen: Interactive by Elemental Productions, directed by Robert Lemelson and codirected by Briana Young. A multimodal interactive ethnographic documentary about the Balinese cockfight responding to Geertz’s (1973) seminal piece “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight,” Tajen: Interactive comprises a thirty-minute sensory ethnography, fifteen short supplemental films, five readings, and a discussion guide. The AA article discussed why we felt the project was ripe for a multimodal exploration and presentation, which various feature film and ethnographic web projects served as inspiration, how we theorized and conducted the fieldwork for the visual ethnography, how the team collaborated to create and interlink various components, and how we determined the look and structure of the sensory ethnography and interactive interface. We also touched upon the rationale for the topics, structures, and aesthetics of the different supplemental films, going into detail for a select few.
Here we will spend a little more time with the supplemental films, which were designed to incorporate new developments in anthropological research approaches, foci, and technique since the early 1970s when Geertz’s article came out; add updated ethnographic information to address cultural, political, and social changes and related shifts in cockfighting practices over the past half-century or so since his fieldwork was conducted; and respond to some of the critiques of his work, filling in some omissions in his original research. We hoped that a diverse and well-rounded collection of shorts would be able to provide a more holistic picture of the Balinese cockfight than either Geertz’s interpretivist take or the impressionistic sensory ethnography alone could provide. Each film runs from approximately two to five minutes each, and together they investigate multiple cultural, historical, and psychocultural aspects of Balinese cockfighting, from ritual lore to gender identity and gambling addiction to interspecies relationships…
For the complete post, visit the American Anthropologist’s Multimodal Anthropologies Blog