5.1 Visual Analysis (and audio analysis)

This modules shares with the other modules found here an orientation to language as action. What, you may be asking, does language as action have to do with analysing video recordings? The answer lies in the slightly peculiar status of what the analysis is. Rather than being a set of analytic methods built by researchers outside of the practices they are studying, to explain, model or interpret those practices, the analysis is conjoint with the analysis used in those practices. If we turn toward visual analysis then this means we are going to look at the visual analysis being practiced by members of various local cultures. Their analysis (which is also our analysis) is what we will then attempt to describe.

The very presence of sound in video recordings pushes against traditional approaches to the visual - they pursue the visual as if it were a domain of perception separate from the other senses and, more importantly, distinct from language. What we want to retain here is that the visual world is seen by members of society both as a whole entity (sound included). More than this, our see-hearing is accomplished through, and with, our language practices. Children learn to recognise cows by their parents pointing out cows in books, on television and out of the car window. Books, TVs and fields are found in the midst of certain settings such as [sitting together to play with books] or [watching TV with mum] or [going on holiday in the car]. [Pointing out] itself involves the parents speaking (‘that’s a cow’), gesturing (pointing toward the animal) and then the various entities that constitute the cow (be it a drawing, furry toy, just the face of a cow or a live one dozing in a field). The cow is delivered as a creature that is audible: ‘moo’. Moreover children also learn the practice [point out] at the same time and can then begin pointing out other things and seeing what sort of response they get. If we, or the parents of the child, have a video nearby it can be set-up to record these visual practices and create materials for us to look at later. And in that later viewing of the video-recording, we then have an abundance of materials to begin learning about how activities like pointing are learnt, organised, repeated, responded to and so on.