Saturday, July 24, 2010

We've got our own domain now!

We have undergone a 'translocal' migration.

Please find us now at It is still a little messy, but that's where the action will be from now on.

Welcome all!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Where It’s At! Pt. 1 – Dub War and the New York Scene

In our previous project 'Brothers-In-Paint' we found it paramount to visit many contexts where the social practices of paintball culture take place. This allowed us to not take the site as the location of the culture, but rather the practices as the culture itself, not defined, but co-existing with the spatiotemporal 'places' of activity and agency. Thus we visited 6 countries in attempts to gain more insight and a translocal appreciation of the social practices.

Now, having just finished CCT5, it was time shift gears and further our 'Pushing the Scene' dubstep project by similarly getting into and filming in many contexts, scattered by proximity, yet connected via various intertwined social practices. It was time to discover and experience the New York scene! The highlight of this little hop across the pond was to be the 5 year anniversary of the 'Dub War' night - the club that started the scene in New York half a decade ago. This was big!

Risto had made smoothly scheduled arrangements for us to meet the central figures of the New York scene, and for him to simultaneously play a set or two in various locales. Firstly, we met up with DaveQ and headed out to Brooklyn to be a part of a SubFM radio show. Risto (Desto) ended up hitting the decks also alongside such pioneers as DaveQ - thanks Dave for taking such great care of us!

Finding the studio can sometimes be somewhat puzzling.

DaveQ on SubFM.

The AIM screen during the SubFM show, over which the DJs were in

constant interaction with the listeners.

Desto's turn on the decks.

SubFM getting lively.

Later Risto was scheduled to play a set at a record store right under the Brooklyn Bridge. The place, Halcyon, was a vinyl enthusiasts playground and had a great soundsystem (especially considering it is a record store and not a club venue). Later Risto played at a venue called the White Rabbit. Too bad not so many people made it over. Fortunately, the interesting experience in Halcyon more than made up for this.

The Halcyon storefront.

Vinyl. Lotsa.

Inside the store. Desto at it again.

And again in business. Now at the White Rabbit.

Pt. 2.

The main event for us, the Dub War 5 year anniversary, was truly a night to remember. We began by navigating through the masses of dubstep lovers making their pilgrimage. The place was packed like sardines in a crushed tin box already at ten when the party was only picking up. In terms of filming, we got amounts of intense contextual footage, and Risto did an admirable bit of legwork in order to grab such pioneers as Joe Nice and Alex Incyde, and the dubstep Internet forum creator Seckle for little back-and-forth with us in interesting back rooms and corridors while the party was booming. Even Skream popped into one of our interview sessions right behind the DJ booth - where we actually got quite a bit of action also. Thanks again to the New York scene for giving us such a warm welcome!

And we're in!


Joe Nice.

Desto, always listening.

Skream jumps in.

During our walkabouts through Broadway we had additional time to think about our up-and-coming editing process. As Risto has become an increasingly central figure in our work, we went further in our preliminary ideas about the arc of drama in what is to become the final product. Our first project, Brothers-in-Paint, was very much a conservative article-like showcase of how to, for the lack of better terms, create a videography that resembled an article in video format. How it exactly came out so, we do not know, but I do still remember our original ethos of really exemplifying how a theoretical perspective could be depicted on video. In retrospect, we might have overdid it a tad bit. Now, while we wish to still make a theoretical case, we will attempt to incorporate a much more entertaining approach, with Risto's autoethnographic commentary hopefully bringing about a more interesting, theatrical, and continuous story line.

But to match Risto's insighful autoethnographic story, we need contextually founded footage in situ. And certainly, as experimentality goes, we have found one of the most demanding contexts equipment-wise. Dubstep is certainly loud and noisy, taking an evident toll in terms of video and audio quality. Fortunately, again, we have Risto to work his producer magic on the audio, and we do expect decent outcomes. Moreover, the lack of video footage quality is more than compensated for by the graininess of the context presenting itself right in-your-face with all its loudness. As Rob Kozinets has pointed out before, social practices are bright, noisy and messy. Without completely slipping into the rabbit hole at this point, it can be noted that it is this loudness and messiness we are aiming to represent. An interesting comment by Lisa Marks seems to bubble up here too, as she was known to have said that what the film represents is often dull, but nevertheless the impurities and the scratches on the film material itself are perpetually fascinating. I would agree, and that is why we are not afraid of grainy material, when such outcomes go on to represent the murkiness of the many contexts we were introduced to in our underground travels. Because we dare to profess love for the loudness and embrace the grittyness of some of the video material as our equipment are maxed out, we gain more confidence in our perspective - the contextual representation of social practices in close proximity.

In order to accomplish this, I believe strongly that the video ethnographer must do as little of obstruction as possible, and therefore all we shoot is uncompromisingly in situ. This means, that even with the implications for video quality, we will not use additional lights and we will not be sticking lapel microphones around peoples’ necks. In our adventures in the dubstep scene this has not been purely an question of preference either, as the promoters of many club venues will not permit lighting for video works. An important concern arises from this preferred modus operendi, however. Equipment truly matters. Indeed, there must be something seriously wrong with our heads, as we are conducting video work in probably one of the most hostile environments. It is dark (often and often very much so) and it is loud (have you felt the subbass causing tremors in your spine and jiggling the clothes on you). To pull this silly feat off, we are no longer going in with equipment more at home in capturing the kids making sandcastles on a sunny Mediterranean beach, where the food was delicious and the wine was just right. While still nowhere near a professional outfit, we are now donning a decent videocam and a back-up video DSLR with lenses specifically chosen to lure in all possible trickles of light in the illlit places we happen to enter. See the post before this one for a more technical perspective (and gripe) into the contents our gear bag.

Yet again, what would we be, if we were hauling lighting and microphones into sweat drenched rooms packed to the rim with euphoric music followers being blazed by the club lights and battered with subbass that you can feel in your spine? That’s right, a distraction, an obstruction. Worse than that, we could become what I as an ethnographer fear the most, a odd academic peculiarities flailing about a context that will never again give us a pass. No, to get close to that sweat, that pounding, that energy, we must and will continue to go in light. What you see is what you get. And what you get is noisy and bright.

We'll leave you with a couple more memories. Soon to come, our continued adventures in London.

Some Issues with Gizmos and Gadgets

Time for just a quickie now, and as it seems the first one to become part of our slowly developing roll. Well, my steadily growing experience in making videographic work seems to lend itself to certain abuses. I, and I have to admit the true causes elude me, have become increasingly interested in the technological side of video production also. Me, a nerd, never. IDDQD.

For our ongoing 'Pushing the Scene' project we bought another camera to record video with, in order to get more dynamic footage from interviews with two simultaneous angles. And, as seems to be the hip and pop fashion, it was not a videocam, but an DSLR capable of HD video recording. Now, don't get me wrong (in what follows), the luxury of shooting footage with exchangeable lenses is unparallel. However, DSLRs are certainly not ready to be (at least in terms of my limited experience) the sole recorders of video (and audio) for video projects. For now, they take wonderfully pristine footage with the correct lens choices. However, in terms of reliability and audio recording there seem to still be some unresolvable obstacles in the way. By the way, our DSLR is the Canon EOS 550D with a Sigma fisheye lens (especially suitable for low-light shooting) and another Sigma lens for more all-around applications.

Our JVC video-cam.

Some of the usual gear of a contemporary ethnographer.

First, a gripe about reliability. The 550D overheats if the shot takes over circa 20 minutes (and most interview settings obviously do). Secondly, the audio capturing capability is practically zero (with the internal mic). This naturally did not come as a surprise, as we knew we were going to use our videocam's (JVC GY-HM100U) audio capturing capabilities for most of our recording. However, as the Finns say, the hunger increases as you munch away, and therefore I have become increasingly interested in building a presentable rig out of our Canon DSLR for video use.

So, (after days of internet scowring) what do I need? Well, a decent microphone for starters. I went through a whole set of directional test mics (Rode Videomic, Azden SGM-X / SMX-10 etc). Directional meaning to have the ability to capture audio from a certain direction, i.e. the voices of interviewees in otherwise loud surroundings. However, as I learned, this was not the only qualm. As our Canon 550D is not primarily intended for video shooting, there is one rather gargantuan concern. This would be the AGC ('automatic gain control') 'feature' that basically, for the lack of better wording and excuse my French, absolutely f***s up your recorded audio. Thankfully, Canon seems to have no interest in rectifying this problem, and there are open source micro-projects that tackle this issue for the 5D Mark II model, but not, to date, for the 550D. So yes, indeed, thanks a whole bunch Canon. The 'methodology' of videography work certainly lunges the researcher in a whole new realm of 'what you need to know', and this just after I thought to have acquired a decent baseline knowledge of editing in terms of all the various video formats and codec issues.

How to go about this, then? How to (preferably) brutalize the AGC out of our 550D. As it turns out, this in itself will not be the ultimate salvation. As I know from my dabblings with music production, I need to be able to monitor the sound entering my camera also (as in 'not too loud, not too soft'), and of course, a DSLR not dedicated to video shooting lacks all such capabilities. Well, I found at least two options. The rather bulky Beachtech DXA-5DA and the Juicedlink DT454 4-CH. These are basically boxes of audio electronics to attach to your camera that give you the capability to monitor the recorded sound that is being fed to the DSLR.

And here's the twist and the crux and the help-me-I've-had-enough part of this post. I tested two Beachtech DXA-5DA today with 3 different mics, and neither Beachtech DXA-5DA device showed any decent graphical representation of the sound going in. This would be the device to use as it provides a way to circumnavigate the whole AGC issue by fooling the cameras electronics (but that, I have to say, is another whole matter in and of itself). This, in practice, rendered the whole monitoring feature unusable without constant headphone monitoring. With our preference for unobstrusiveness and 'going in light' in our ethnographic video work, it would seem kind of peculiar for me to rock a camera rig the Ghostbusters would be envious of with the humble addition of having wires hanging out of my ears. Very subtle, indeed.

So, the outcome. I'll wait for something else. And we'll continue to use audio by relying on our JVC video-cam only. It may not take as spectacular footage (especially in the dark), but it is a full-fledged video recorder. To date, it seems, a DSLR is not. Finally, a normative recommendation. If this is your game, use both. Always. And simultaneously.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My Dissertation About Our (Increasingly) Translocal Lives

I finally found the time to blog about my doctoral dissertation after a busy round of conferences and filmmaking this summer. I successfully defended my thesis, titled "Exploring the Cultural Logic of Translocal Marketplace Cultures: Essays on New Methods and Empirical Insights", at the Aalto University School of Economics in May 2010. I had the honour to have professor Robert Kozinets (York Univerisy, Schulich School of Business) as my co-examiner and opponent.

My dissertation presentation...

To explain briefly, my dissertation research involves taking a cultural, practice-oriented perspective to consumption and markets. It pays attention to the new forms of marketplace cultures that have recently emerged due to cultural and technological transformations such as the increasing hypermobility of people and new means of digital communication and connectivity around the globe. New computer-mediated social networks – iconized by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other consumption-oriented online communities and groups – have given rise to new kinds of cultural production. My dissertation examines the translocal nature of such phenomena: culture, identity, space, and sites that are not bound or limited by particular national, geographic, or territorial constraints and through which consumers’ lives, experiences, and practices are increasingly mediated today.

New digitalized consumption communities accelerate translocal marketplace cultures

The key notion of the dissertation is translocality, which refers to a transnational network of interconnected local sites and social spaces, both physical and virtual, through which culture is increasingly being negotiated, shaped, and produced. To conceptualize and provide concrete examples of translocal cultural production, the dissertation investigates consumption-oriented communities, the so-called ‘consumer neo-tribes’, as particularly good examples of translocal communities.

By investigating consumer communities that gather around a common interest or lifestyle – I studied budget travelling and extreme sport activities (paintball) – the dissertation offers insights suggesting that translocal communities and practices play an important role in transnational cultural production. The empirical studies illustrate how translocal communities increasingly collaborate, share information, exchange knowledge, and negotiate consumption practices via new digital media. In addition, the findings show that the new communication media, combined with less constrained transnational mobility, has made it possible for consumers to take part in various consumer communities in radically new ways and with less effort. These key developments, the dissertation claims, have spurred the creation of more profound, organized, empowered, and transnationally spread consumer networks.

New methods for studying translocal marketplace cultures: netnography and videography

My dissertation also lays out new approaches and methods for studying translocal communities and practices. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in both online and offline settings, I develop netnographic and videographic methods that may benefit companies, researchers, and policy-makers in analyzing how new forms of translocal marketplace practices emerge, spread, and transform.

Altogether, my dissertation package includes a summary essay plus four individual essays – three of which have been published in international academic journals. The fourth essay, a videographic study accompanied with a paper, has been described also in this blog. Here’s the list of essays, just to give you a better idea of the contents:

1111. Rokka, J.: Netnographic Inquiry and New Translocal Sites of the Social. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 34, (2010) 381-387.

2. Rokka, J. & Moisander, J.: Environmental Dialogue in Online Communities: Negotiating Ecological Citizenship among Global Travellers. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 33, (2009) 199-205.

3. De Valck, K., Rokka, J. & Hietanen, J.: Videography in Consumer Research: Visions for a Method on the Rise. Finanza Marketing e Produzione, 27, (2009) 81-100.

4. Rokka, J., Hietanen, J. & De Valck, K.: Brothers in Paint: Practice-Oriented Inquiry into a Tribal Marketplace Culture. In Advances in Consumer Research, 37, (2010) Campbell, M.C., Inman, J., Pieters, R. (eds.), (forthcoming). (Videography and paper).

I was happy to get some attention from the local news media. I was interviewed by a number of newspapers who also made some of the material available online. To my slight surprise, the work and ideas presented in my thesis were well received by the reporters. I guess this can be considered some sort of success, at least when considering the fact that many academic works simply wont translate to wider audiences. I think one possible reason for this is that I had quite a few timely themes to discuss, including the consequences of social media, consumer tribes, video research, online research etc. In addition, what gained a lot of interest in my thesis was exactly what we've been discussing in this blog: research on video and its accessibility online. This is a good signal for our future work :)

Here’s a couple of links I found (in Finnish unfortunately):

Kauppalehti 17.5.2010 "Web-Based Communities Produce New Forms of Consumer Culture"

Turun Sanomat 24.5.2010 "Consumer Power in Peer-to-Peer Communities"

Kaleva 22.5.2010 "Understanding Consumers Everyday Lives"

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Further notes on CCT 2010 conference themes

In addition to the themes covered in the previous posting, here's to summarize some of this year's sessions (with a couple of notes linking to our own project). The themes included: new research methods, postmodern and ethnic consumption, challenges linked to public goods/services, class dynamics and consumption, consumer culture in third world countries, consumer resistance/culture jamming, culture and ideology, market-mediated relationships, the contested notion of place that shapes consumer experiences, femininity, consumer-marketer co-creation, community and family, mediated images and ideologies of body and health, consumer identity practices, critical questions on consumer culture terminology, and finally, socio-cultural construction of authenticity -- session where we presented this time.

I particularly liked the session on new methods. Visual Analysis (VA) was explored as an tool for gaining cultural insight on consumer behavior and practices. Kristen San Jose presented a piece in which she applied VA in the context of fashion consumption in Tokyo. Although there's a long tradition of visual research in CCT, I agree that there's plenty of future opportunities in this regard. For instance, researchers (and companies alike) often rely on text-based analyses. For us, it would be interesting to extend VA also towards moving images / video, something I haven't seen yet. Adding nicely to the session, Alex Thompson's presentation brought about interesting views on how companies perceive and conceptualize consumers, in a study where commercial ethnography was the focus. I liked the way in which video was used as a means to communicate consumer knowledge to company executives -- this nicely contrasts with more traditional ppt presentations and figures we're used to. Alex's points about different mechanisms at play, including rituals, embodiment and symbols, are something video really can capture in an intriguing way.

Another interesting session set out to re-conceptualize the contested notion of place. Drawing insights from material culture theory, Jeppe Trolle Linnet's presentation shed light on material and social aspects of place and space in the context of home and homeyness (what he called 'hygge' in Danish). It was interesting to see how this hygge is constructed and negotiated in different settings, not only at home but also in other social places such as neighborhoods or communities. They act as a sort of social comfort zone, a cozy, warm, and safe environment that is distinguished from other non-hyggelig, cold, and modern places. In a closely related study Zeynep Arsel and Jonathan Bean presented on 'apartment therapy' -- a conduct in which people modify their homes through interior design to better match their desires. In our own research we're also throughly interested in how such interlinked and mediated cultural spaces and sites are at play.

In the co-creation session, several papers sought to understand the cultural dialogue and co-creation between consumers and producers/marketers. Robert Harrison presented a fascinating paper on Black Friday - a sort of corporate ritual and event which is largely the result of consumer's active participation during a consumption event. Another really nice paper was by Daiane Scaraboto and Rob Kozinets who investigated the community of geo-cacaching -- a sort of GPS treasure hunt game invented and organized by consumers. This study showed how consumer's infinite innovative potential, playfulness, and creativity plays an important role in the creation of a new markets -- exactly what we're also seeing our own study.

Finally, our own session in which authenticity was explored as an essential component and a driver of culture. I think the session was very interesting as it nicely brought together three distinct viewpoints on authenticity -- namely brand, place, and consumption-production interplay. As it was noted, in consumer research authenticity is often investigated by looking at consumer perceptions, and it is commonly tied to certain objects (e.g. brands), lifestyles, or places. In our presentation on electronic music culture, we wanted to consider how authenticity -- which often drives cultural change in (music) culture -- is actually achieved and negotiated by different influential cultural agents. In our study these agents in fact simultaneously adopt the role of producers, DJs, and consumers. We also brought with us our new research team member Risto (aka Desto) who is an authoethnographic member in our research team and a DJ/producer himself. This move was very well received, and we had lots of lively discussions after our presentation. Thanks for everyone involved!

Some pics from our presentation at CCT5

Overall this fifth annual CCT conference pointed out many interesting future directions. Especially, the increasing attention to spatial and embodied aspects of culture as well as emphasis on creative methodologies -- including audiovisual and multi-method approaches -- brings to the fore new thrilling work that is currently emerging.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thoughts on CCT5

Relaxing after our presentation on Sunday morning.

Like Rob Kozinets has already pointed out in his insightful blog postings, this was the best CCT yet. From my humble vantage point of having attended approximately 20 conferences in international contexts, I can do nothing else than to wholeheartedly agree! Indeed, the presentations and discussions were of high quality, but I must also emphasize what consists of the true magic of the CCT gatherings - the laid-back atmosphere and the truly engaging conversations that occur beyond the conference agenda (yes, this would also entail the great parties this year and before). A special shout-out must go out to Rob, Alex Thompson, Marylouise Caldwell, Paul Henry, Handan Vicdan and Sofia Ulver-Sneistrup along with others making up our outgoing posse. Good times, good times. Like the saying goes, this trip was not one of economy or its health-promoting qualities.

Coming back to Rob's blog, he has already provided an in-depth account of the conference and its contributions (and rumors and some minor controversy). What happened in the first session was that Eric Arnould called for the cessation of case studies in the CCT field. The discussion developed into relatively voluminous amounts of spilled digital ink (see also the comments in Rob's blog) about what became resolved as an issue of conceptualization. This approach is further clarified by Robert Kozinet's following point "...ethnography leave unclear what the difference is between “single” and “not-single”. From my perspective, there thus seems to be more agreement than not on the larger issue, which would naturally have to do with the further work of legitimizing CCT research in general. This task can be undertaken by further development of a focus in robust theoretizations and deep ethnographic takes. Certainly, if scholarly work in our field remains primarily focused on a description, we we stand to lose a lot of our potential. From my perspective, especially one that is now fortified with encouraging experiences in the CCT5, the general ethos of the CCT crowd is exactly doing this, moving to the direction of emphasis on theoretical work and (even) more holistic approaches into various consumption contexts.

Another thoroughly interesting moment was the luncheon keynote on Friday by John Deighton, the editor of Journal of Consumer Research (JCR), the most prestigious journal in all scholarly things consumer. One of the core insights he shared was the increasing need to consider the impact of CCT for managers – i.e. what can CCT offer in the practice of companies’ marketing efforts. Indeed, it seems, that the cultural side of the matter is becoming increasingly recognized by companies also (e.g. Proctor & Gamble, Nokia), and therefore we must contemplate our role in this transformation. This provides opportunities for interesting shifts in ethos, as many CCT scholars with their close affiliation to the critical marketing discourse have traditionally not been closely tied to the managerial end of things. Perhaps, as cultural insight becomes increasingly relevant for companies, they will also provide us with more interesting opportunities for cooperation to bring in thought that has less to do with the reduction of the consumer into a number and more to do with holistic and co-creative approaches. Thus, we CCT researchers must remain ever vigilant in reminding ourselves to keep and open mind and readily pursue these opportunities as they emerge. Perhaps, in the future, there may be new openings for positions of chief cultural officers, as McCracken calls it.

Regarding the contributions of the CCT crowd in JCR, Deighton gave us some juicy morsels along with more sobering accounts and suggestions for the future of CCT research. Now, it must be remembered, that even with the encouraging growth of the CCT tradition, we are still far from being a firmly established and traditional field - some would certainly refer to us as still being on the fringe. For these reasons it was truly inspiring to have Deighton tell us that CCT accounts for much of very interesting and high-quality research in the journal. Thus, he contended, we CCT scholars have (in terms of the number of researchers in the field) become 'over-represented' in the journal. However, he continued, with growth comes responsibility and the need strategize and find ally discourses in academia. One such promising field could certainly be anthropology, with their ongoing trends of becoming increasingly interested in subcultural phenomena and becoming less 'realist' and more interpretative and reflexive.

While Deighton's insights are certainly valuable for our field - indeed we need to display a more cohesive whole to become more distinctly recognizable - it is my belief that CCT's somewhat Feyerabendian approach of (virtually) 'anything goes' has and will continue to be a source of interesting research and creativity. Naturally, this 'anything goes' does not mean complete ontological and epistemological relativism here, but rather denotes the ongoing freedom to pursue social phenomena from diverse theoretical perspectives and a relatively liberal methodological toolkit. Social phenomena will continue on to consist of equally diverse constructs - constantly negotiated, constantly evolving - and thus we can certainly draw form a tradition promoting freedom and courage in our work.

Risto creating a soundscape for Robert Kozinets's presentation in the poetry session.

Sid Levy reciting his work in the poetry session

Anyway, thank you CCT for a fantastic experience. See you guys in EACR London in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, we'll hang out in the Big Apple to continue our project of exploring the negotiation of authenticity in the electronic music subculture of dubstep. Lots of film to capture! Joonas will provide a more detailed account of the presentations in the conference, and I'll be sure to jot down an account of our experiences in NYC also.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Project: Pushing the Scene (vol. 1) - dubstep and cultural practice of authentication

This would be our new videographic project (which we started scetching out late 2009), and I got to say, I am quite happy to push the paintball-related video clips off my editing table for now. Seeing the same material over and over again, from the conferences to my doing-the-Edward-Scissorhands on the editing table – well, its stating to finally become just a bit stale… So, on to new and better things it is, then, and what will such things entail?

For us, an exploration of the consumer community partaking into the growing ‘dubstep’ electronic scene is the answer. We needed an interesting and a highly audiovisual cultural phenomenon, and a great deal of access. Dubstep gave us all of the above.

Coming this far, we have come to understand the role of access and autoethnographic accounts when going after an in-depth understanding of a phenomenon and rich material for its representation. This time we did not have to search far and wide. Our initial impulse came from the ‘Illicit Pleasure’ JCR article (Goulding, Shankar, Elliott & Canniford 2009), even though what we consequently set out to go after is quite different, except for taking an interest in consumption cultures revolving around electronic music. As it happened, I used share a student flat with Risto Roman (going by the alias Desto), and at the time we got together to experiment with music production. I might even post up some of our work dating back to the days of yore, but I’ll need to summon some more courage before you’ll see that happening. With all the other things on my plate, my musical ambitions (or dabblings) had become comprehensively afterburnered. Meanwhile, Desto had gone on to establish himself as an internationally known dubstep producer and DJ.

In this project, he would thus be the autoethnographic member, Joonas would look at the phenomenon from a somewhat less acculturated perspective and I would initially be the fence-sitter with some experience in producing (and obviously partying out to) electronic music, albeit not so much specifically related to the dubstep genre.

Before we entered into the contexts where dubstep happens, we held (quite) thorough conversations about the curiosities of dubstep culture with Risto. Additionally, he provided us with a wealth of internet resources in the form of forums (e.g. Step Ahead), blogs (e.g. Blackdown) and insider documentaries (e.g. Dubfiles) all revolving around dubstep. At that point Risto had already set up interview sessions with renowned DJ/producers as they came over to Finland to strut their stuff at dubstep parties. At present, we have already conducted some interesting filming with a couple of DJ/producers of international fame in interesting backstage settings and the like.

This time, in order to not spend as long pondering on what the hell we are actually doing, we decided to focus on uncovering the perspectives of cultural agents, specifically the DJ/producers, who, through their actions, shape and reproduce the culture. At this early stage we are primarily interested in (still hanging on to the practice theory as a foundation),

  • The practices that drive the evolution of the dubstep culture
  • Agency and authentication in dubstep culture
  • The marginal/mainstream tension regarding this genre of electronic music

Next we are looking forward to visiting some of the most interesting international settings where dubstep has a central role. This would, at the very least, entail two trips to UK (Croydon and Bristol) and a hop over the pond to the states (New York). We will keep you all updated about our progress (and all unplanned slapstick-like outcomes during the process) on this same bat channel, so please keep reading this blog in the future as well.

While this project is still at quite an early stage (we are going after a rich ethnographic immersion, not a few quick & dirty interviews), we have already submitted some early scribblings to the CCT 2010 conference. Hopefully we get accepted, and I hope to see all you guys there!


Dubfiles – Dubstep Documentary. Directed by G. McCann and G. Jugdeese. Dubfiles 2008.

Goulding, C., Shankar, A., Elliott, R., Canniford, R. 2009. The Marketplace Management of Illicit Pleasure. Journal of Consumer Research. 35, 5, 759-771.

Project: Brothers in Paint (vol. 3) – Final thoughts and the EACR 2010 submission

After the great experience in ACR, there was still one more round of editing to do regarding the ‘Brothers in Paint’ project. After winning the ‘Juror’s Prize’ we were asked by Rob Kozinets to send the same video to the EACR 2010 conference in London. We still felt quite unsatisfied with many aspects of our film, and so we decided to give the material one more extensive treatment. The film was still excessively long, too much of what was said in the interviews was muddied by background noise (all our material was captured in situ, and with paintball that obviously entails people frantically shooting each other in the background) and the overall soundtrack was in need of a professional touch.

After seeing our videos ad nauseum in presentations and the editing table, slicing off more material was not as painful as it had been before ACR. The final cut for EACR thus became close to 35 minutes in length. Still not particularly short as far as videographies in ACR go, but getting closer to what can possibly be viewed without the need to pitch up a tent. To tackle the background noise, we added subtitles to everything. Finally, the artist responsible for the background music, Desto, took the whole video soundtrack (speaks and everything) for a final mix down. On the whole, the outcome for me is satisfactory, granted I would like to redo the whole thing from scratch now – the outcome would be quite different (then again, when is this not the case?). Yes, the outcome is still very much just descriptive in nature and the theoretical point needs further sharpening, but overall, I guess it can defend its place.

Obviously, we were again guilty of the classic mistake of thinking, “It’s a matter of a few touch-ups and a little cutting, I’ll have it done in a couple of days.” Well, it took over two weeks, as ideas seemed to pop up as we went along. Even the subtitling alone took almost a full week. Add the typical blue screen here and there, and my laptop came close to a tragic accidental ‘falling to the ceiling’ more than once. Video editing, folks, is some orders of magnitude more unpredictable and demanding than journal writing, believe it or not. Perhaps one day I’ll get this point to such a degree that I’ll actually have my calendar planned properly. I’m not holding my breath though.

We, as self-appointed anarchists, are always looking to question existing structures. Therefore we wanted to become the worlds first to openly showcase our material to everyone. Videography, for me, can be a powerful tool for popularizing science and to be more popular, it has to be public. Therefore, here is our EACR 2010 submission in its entirety. Please enjoy!

More than two years have passed since the first time Joonas crashed into my office with but a glimmer of an idea. Now the first project is complete, and were quickly branching out towards new endeavors. Our work using videographic methodology is certainly not over. Actually, its only really getting started.

Finally, here are some practical takeaways learned along the way.

  • A diverse research team peppered with an autoethnographic angle works great – it’s all about access. Traditional ethnography is difficult in and of itself, now you have the added desensitizing and obstructing thingie called a camcorder. Plan for this, ensure a welcoming access (for each member of your research team)!
  • Doing all filming in situ is the way to really bring out the effect of the video – even if it means background noise and a somewhat shaky shot. It’s the entire context you are going after, not just a talking head, which leads us to…
  • …always asking, whatever you do, “Why video? What does it (in every particular instance you are shooting) add to traditional textual representation?”
  • Even when facing adversities, never ever give up! Instead, do your best to anticipate and remedy hardships before they happen. They will. Don’t let them stop you!