Auto-ethnography
Self in the city, Digital Print on archive paper, 80 x 55cm, (2012) © Andrew Welsby

Self in the city, Digital Print on archive paper, 80 x 55cm, (2012) © Andrew Welsby

3 weeks, Digital photographs on paper, 140 x 45cm (2012) © Andrew Welsby

Auto-ethnography

 

‘Typically, The field is some place other, and archetypically anthropology is researchers from the west investigating other people, not from the west. As anthropology has evolved, the separation between self and research has become closer and closer, and sometimes its more interesting to not separate who we are and the people we are working with, suggesting a more collaborative approach. The field can be set by researchers ourselves, the parameters of which can be set by our interests’ (Thomson, 2012).

 

With the above quote in mind in,I endevoured to explore my hometown by situating myself at the centre of an anthropological investigation of my city’s landscape. The intention was to focus on my surroundings in new and different ways, creating a system for observing, and feeding back observed information, in order to create a visual analysis based on cybernetics theory.

 

The goal has been to create a data based analysis of my life for twenty-one consecutive days from 1st May through 21st May 2012. Part of the feedback process was to take a photograph from my exact location, at mid-day (or as close to as was possible) facing precisely north. The tools for this endeavour were a compass and a camera, both came in the form of a smart-phone. Historically, cameras have provided anthropologists with an invaluable tool to collect and present social reality differently, ask different questions, and represent findings in new ways (Leavy: 2009: 230).

 

The photographs were taken using observer-as-participator research methodology (Bryman: 2004: 304). Using self-authored software, statistical sampling was used over sixteen equidistant points in each photograph to obtain accurate colour information as it was distributed about the photograph. The system dictated that the colour information for each of the sixteen points should be converted to a red (R), green (G) and blue (B) hex value. Each value had a numerical attribution between 0 and 255. Once the data was collected and stored, the values were converted to points on an XYZ axis: R became X, G became Y, and B became Z. This process was repeated for all of the sixteen points, where a single line to create a vertex shape connected the coordinates. The resulting shape is a data visualisation of the colour contained in the photograph, or a graphical representation of a north facing direction from my position at 12 pm.

 

3 weeks, Digital photographs on paper, 140 x 45cm (2012) © Andrew Welsby

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