Visual Anthropology – Mindscaping the landscape of Tibet
This is a project-oriented class. Of course it does not mean that we don’t have much reading and intellectual exchange between us in class. In fact prior to our field trip in the middle of the semester, we have a fair amount of coursework. Our topic this semester is “Mindscaping the Landscapes of Amdo Tibet.” Before we go on our field trip, we devote much time to reading contemporary scholarly works on imagined Tibet and discussing them in class. Our goal is for each student to make a meaningful visual project regarding how he or she, while in a Tibetan area, reflects on her own image of Tibet prior to our field trip. The study of landscape is a multidisciplinary effort. Anthropologists, philosophers, ecologists and scholars from other disciplines all participate in it. Like our students I’ll also have my self-assigned project. My goal is to make a short film about the cultural function of meditation caves in relation to how place is made native with rituals and spiritual practices.
Besides our discussions on course readings, we also have sessions for everyone to learn more about how to use film equipment. This semester we have Wei Anjie, a young director from Beijing Film Academy, show us to how to use HDSLR with full 35mm frame, an emerging tool of mini-digital cinema.