Monday, November 10, 2008

Again in Vadtal

On Monday we relax a little. The conference had been completed sucessfully, and we are quite glad about this. I want now to experiment a bit with my hear-worn camera, to try out the "subjective experience recording". For this, I would like to go back to Vadtal, as this busy buzzing scenery seemed to be most promising for this kind of recording.

Our driver from the university brings us first to the "Garden of Knowledge", which is near the Vadtal temple. A wonderful gazebo-like structure stands there in the centre, shaded by trees. But as I want to take pictures, a group of white dressed guards comes towards me and tells me that it is not allowed to take pictures here. What a pity! This must be because of the post card stores, who want to preserve their business. It is obviously ok for them to take pictures, butnot for us ordinary visitors. Well, I now find a good use for my head-worn video camera, and I record unobtrusively as I walk along. Unfortunately the quality of these videos is not very good, as the camera is a very unsophisticated 640x480 PAL video standard one. The colors are washed out, and the audio is dreadful. Fortunately I also record the audio through my in-ear microphones onto the digital recorder, which give an excellent sound quality.

But at some point I switch the camera off, as we began talking - I do not want to record conversations, as this may be an intrusion into privacy. I am just interested to capture the surrounding soundscape.

Around this garden there live some kind of "holy men", as we are being told. These men are not even allowed to look at a woman, because then they would loose some of their holiness... well, there are weird things in this world.

When some of the guides realise that I am German, then ask us to wait and meet one of their guests - who is from Germany too. After a while he appears, also dressed into the traditional white local costume. He lives here for a while, getting rest and inspiration for his life. He tells us that he is actually here on business, as an industrialist who works on developing a technology for saving the environment: creating fuel out of garbage, and using some kind of solar / wind energy. It sounds to us quite unbelievable, and the guy may be just a bit nuts. But when I later search the web, I find a few links to this kind of technology, among them a project with technology from Germany: So maybe this guy was not nuts at all...

We see some parts of the museum, a house with floors and walls built from cow dung. Then we go again to the temple town, where there is again music and a large crowd of people. It appears that there too photography and filming is forbidden, something that I had not been aware at our last visit. Also I realise that last time I had entered the temple through the wrong door - there is a separate entrance for men and women.

I film a bit more with the head-worn equipment. But as I later find out, the quality of this recording is also reduced because of the camera mounted on the head: I would have to walk around like I had swallowed a stick, being a human tripod. No head shaking, no nodding. This would make interactions quite unnatural. But when behaving "naturally", the resulting video is just not a pleasure to watch.

No comments: