Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.

Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.
Image by Cameron Lyall, GNU license Wikimedia

08 July 2011

Documenting Documentation at Maggie's Center

During our visit Maggie’s Center at Ninewells Hospital I took some footage. When we arrived at the meditation walk man of our group began to walk the path. And I took video I wanted to get a nice short shot of people walking this meditative path and what i ended up with was a document of how we investigate a site.

As the video opens about half of our group is walking the path. I am outside filming one specific area as people wonder in and out of the frame. Dr. Salvo is talking to our hosts and others wonder off to photograph a statue while I pan around looking for something else to film. During this video each of us takes our cameras out for a moment. Photography as become so cheap that the standard practice is to take a few hundred pictures and sort it all out later.

There are a few brief unique moments. High fives happen while people pass each other on the path. A few people begin to quit the path and ignore the stone walkway as they stride off of it. A few people notice I am filming and shrug it off. We all all filming intermittently. Arielle is the most strident in her walking and her filming. She has her camera out the whole time with her eyes on the path. Simultaneously recording and experiencing instead of just one or the other.

Eventually more people quit and one even walks the center and photographs it and each other. I exchange words with Salvo about what is happening and what I am writing now. Not to get too meta but i think this is the point i decided to write this blog post. I am not just capturing a document I am capturing documentation. I wondered what blogs posts would come out of this moment. I imagined that each of us would go home and articulate and i would articulate on the documentation articulated but the only blog post to come out was Danielle’s very well written and personal post, which while touching wasn’t very heavily focused on the Path.

At this post only a few are left and I am becoming bored I move while keeping my attention on the path. Arielle continues on with Kelli in her wake and soon they are the only ones left. I decide to side-step my way up the hill. I this point in nearly run into someone else taking pictures. Eventually i arrive that the statue on the man made hill above the path. The two people left are dots in the distance. The soundtrack is enveloped by my labored breathing, I am out of shape.

People wonder in and give us a puzzling look. I do a complete pan and catch where many of us have gone. A few have gone inside and some are looking around the building and a few others are where they were at the beginning in conversation. The Legend of Zachery Koppelman continues as he photographs the sky where a helicopter will be in a short amount of time.

I get bored again and walk down onto the path. At this point the only one still sticking to the path is Arielle. I have a brief conversation with her as she passes me. The few spectators left talk about the video Arielle is film and what she could do with it. I back up and talk to salvo about my filming.

We realize Arielle is almost finished. We talk about her impending victory as she approches she suggest we merge our footage. While we joke about putting Benny Hill music (Yackety Sax). She approaches us and we discuss her footage. Soon we are all done with the path and head into the building.

Much of the documentation that day did not end up in blog posts or papers or used for anything. But we took it in case we would need to and in a few years that academic documentation could be used for personal purposes as we look back at our time in Scotland and try to piece our fragmentary memories together with photographs and video.

I am surprised how some memories and ideas seem to be locked behind doors in our minds until an image opens it up. I wonder if in a few years I will watch this video and remember an idea I had then and forgot now. Documentation also reminds me of the workers lost skills and solutions in Zuboff’s writing. I wonder if the technology we use to document a site is a help or a hindrance. I have the footage and I may always have it a few clicks away. But, I never walked that path, I was too busy filming it.

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