Right then, the following is quite a bit overdue, so I guess its better to jump right in. After our little escapade to meet the New York dubstep scene, we all quickly washed the most important articles of clothing, rezipped our bags, and headed back out there, this time to London to do what we set out to do across the pond in a dandy British setting.
Don’t get me wrong, this videography hustle does come with a wealth of new experiences and amounts of a kind of hard-pressed fun (with all the hurry and the gear-related hassle), but having been out on our videographic odyssey for close to a month does lend itself to certain abuses. Yes, we were beginning to become somewhat fatigued by being crammed together in our (certainly too) modest hotel rooms. One must say I have to be traveling with the greatest team of all time, as we eventually seemed to endure our hasty run in London without any major hitches.
Again, our agenda was filled with interesting places to be and people to meet. We would be attending the legendary DMZ dubstep party night in Brixton, meet up with Oneman during his Rinse FM show, talk to Benny Ill at the place of the pioneers – the Horsepower Productions studio, catch up with Blackdown, Cyrus, Distance, Boomnoise, and finally cut some dubplates at the renowned Transiton Mastering Studios.
At the DMZ night we got to hear the influential sounds of dubstep pioneers the likes of Loefah and Coki, and in addition, we had the privilege of shattering our eardrums to the refreshingly minimalist sound of the up-and-coming James Blake. Whilst we were unable to get any in situ interviews during the night, we were (surprisingly enough) able to get ourselves into the party mood to an extensive degree. This was not a shortcoming however, as our planners were heavily booked through the coming week.
The following night we got to sneak into the legendary Rinse FM show, and Risto under his producer alias, Desto, ended up spinning his plates too. Quite the world premier for him in such a context. After the show (in the very late night) we got chat with Oneman and Asbo in the somewhat rough (somebody actually tried to do some business-a-bit-on-the-shady-side with us while we were shooting) streets of Brixton. Yet, it was especially interesting to get Oneman’s and Asbo’s knowledgeable take on the present state and future of the culture in an ever-digitalizing world. Thanks for the ride guys!
The next notable (and very much so) setting for us was the Horsepower Productions studio of Benny Ill in Southern London. This was another great highlight for us, as Benny and his Horsepower Productions studio is touted as a true place of origin for many dubstep sounds. During the course of the interview, Benny invited Lev Jnr to join us. We had a great time discussing primarily about the history of the scene in their old-school surroundings complete with heaps of gear topped off with the worthy addition of an old Atari ST. Big thanks to Benny and Lev for letting us into your home!
Also, we were able to quickly meet up with Blackdown and Boomnoise to get some truly analytic accounts of the fast-paced developments in the scene, along with a visit to the studio of Distance and Cyrus, for more historical accounts spiced up with an analysis of the economic rationale of being a contemporary dubstep producer, as the sound is undergoing increasing pressures of commercialization.
Finally, we took the tube to South East London Forest Hill to Transition Mastering Studios, where we were able to get both LD and Jason into the view of our lenses along with an interesting experience of truly professional mastering work as LD cut two dubplates for Risto including tunes from Late, Kfka, and Tes La Rok. At Transition the topics mostly hovered around the role of the dubplate culture in dubstep and the implications of ever-increasing digitalization and the effect of digital DJ technologies such as Serato.
Again, thank you all! Now back in Finland, I have to say I’ve had my fill of running around the world touting various recording equipment with my arm constantly reminding me of a developing camera-elbow. Fortunately, one can now feel some preliminary accomplishment, as the bulk of our material is done. With now just a couple of places to visit in Finland, it seems the editing table is the next embedded cultural context for us.
While we continue to have our sights set to the ACR submission in February 2011, we have, being the busy little bees that we are, started to think about a much wider array of uses for our material than the ACR alone. Stay tuned!
My inspiration for video research was spurred by a few occurrences that took place in 2006-7. Firstly, I had just jumped on to my doctoral studies at the Helsinki School of Economics (currently known as Aalto University School of Economics) the previous year and was anxiously looking for new potential topics for my thesis work. I soon discovered that I needed to look outside of Finland to be able to find something interesting.
As it happened, I found myself first on an intensive course on Consumer Culture Theory (Odense, Denmark) headed by some of the most renowned figures in cultural consumer research, including Eric Arnould and Craig Thompson. The course instantly set the tone for my future work: I was caught to study the cultural aspects of consumption and consumer society from emerging approaches that stem largely from cultural anthropology and sociology.
Not long after, I took part in my first research congress: the 2nd Consumer Culture Theory Conference 2007 (at York University). This annual conference was organized for researchers employing qualitative, interpretive, ethnographic, videographic, netnographic and phenomenological approaches, in other words, in many ways emerging, if not completely novel approaches considering the dominant corpus of work within consumer and marketing research.
CCT conference was a success in many ways, not least because it also offered conjoined workshops designed for new students entering the field. I took part in the Video Ethnography Workshop, which was held for the third time. The purpose of this two-day workshop was to experience videographic research in a hands-on manner, guided by experts. After opening lectures on video-based research production, student teams were given camcorders and editing software as well as professional assistance for designing a small-scale video study in practice. By the end of the workshop we also presented our videos and received feedback.
During the assignment I ran into my future co-author, Kristine de Valck from HEC Paris. We conducted a video study in a local shopping mall interviewing and observing consumers about their personal styles. We got to experience some on-field action and stumbled upon a number of challenges typical for video research including 1) the difficulty of gaining access to people in such public environments and 2) the trouble of presenting camera in interview settings without scaring people away instantly. Despite of these, we managed to shoot some footage that we could edit and produce into a short film – my first videographic experiment.
The videography event was organized by Russell Belk and Robert Kozinets who have written several articles and book chapters about video research (see Belk and Kozinets 2005; Kozinets and Belk 2006). They have also founded the Association for Consumer Research Film Festival. Held annually in the North American ACR conference and in rotating years in Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, the film festival has spawned considerable interest among consumer researchers now for over 9 years.
As soon as the workshop was behind, I began to ponder how video research could work out for me. What is it good for? What makes it so compelling? Why hasn’t it been used previously? What new avenues could be opened up? Soon Kristine asked, if I could join her in Paris and to come up with a brand new video project. I knew this would be the perfect chance, so I was in…
Belk, R.W. & Kozinets, R.V. (2005) Videography in Marketing and Consumer Research. Qualitative Market Research, 8, 128-141.
Kozinets, R.V. & Belk, R.W. (2006). Camcorder Society: Quality Videography in Consumer and Marketing Research. In Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Marketing, R.W. Belk (ed), Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.