I unfortunately missed the very beginning of J. Caldwell's talk today but found it extremely interesting. I sensed a certain connection between his and L. Jullier's talk (yesterday) with the idea of using a variety of methodologies, using them, in a way, as checks and balance. I'm not sure L. Jullier would go so far as advocating the use, by a researcher, of multiple (and quite possibly contradictory) methodologies (from what I understood, Jullier was rather pointing out the necessity of recognizing that various methodologies favour diverse notions of causatily). In any case, recognizing those differing notions of causality seems like a necessary first step in orchestrating the use of different methodologies associated with the various disciplines that can (and should) contribute to the study of a screen text.
2 interrelated points were raised:
1) The need to analyze industry and filmmaker's discourse as well-rehearsed texts, part of a tightly controlled media campaign.
2) The importance of studying the different aspects forming viral marketing campaigns, which Caldwell sees as being part of the knot that is the screen text.
I find these two last points equally convincing. Yet, at the same time, I am worried that this implies a cynicism that might be carried too far. I have in mind two examples, each addressing the above points respectively:
1) Talking about what the filmmakers have to say about their own production reminded me of the "Artist Statement". It is an important part of an artist's work to produce a statement, where she explains (I'm surely simplifying here, and I am not an art scholar) what she tried to do, her motivation, her work. This is also essentially what filmmakers do when they explain their movie. Artists, I am told, are also attending workshops on how to produce artist statement and brand themselves. I do not see a reason to claim that the two types of statements would be of a different nature.
2) In the viral marketing campaign section of the talk, I couldn't help but think of Michael Snow's Walking Woman. This series could be considered a prime example of early viral marketing campaigning. I'm not sure that looking at the series from this angle would not end up obliterating completely the other ones.
These are simply concerns though, not a critique - for I raise these as questions that the talks raised for me. But this also brings me back to L. Jullier's earlier talk. Jullier highlighted the reasons why we find it difficult to arrive at multidisciplinarity, combining different disciplines and methodologies - different disciplines use different languages and, to a large extent, cannot communicate (Kuhn). Callon and Latour (and Jullier) believe that we can arrive at a multidisciplinary communication through translation: in elaborating a neutral enough, general enough, basic language. Jullier attempted (quite successfully I would say) to develop such a translation around the concept of causality, thereby mapping the different methodologies - putting them together, communicating at least minimally, on a same plane. Although I find this mapping extremely useful, I'm not sure it can serve as anything but a metalanguage to analyze the functioning of various methodologies. In other words, I'm not sure these different methodologies can fully be used, developed, applied by researchers as part of a unified practice. To go back to an expression used by Calwell, if we see a screen text as an onion whose layers must be peeled, what do we find at the center? It seems to me like one must chose what exactly will be at the core of the onion, and that will overdetermine the other layers.
(And so my lunch hour ends).