11. Januar 2017, 16.00 Uhr,
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Institut für Ethnologie, Studtstr. 21, Raum STU 105
A Hunter’s Sense of Landscape:
A Phenomenological Approach to Sensory Anthropology and Anthropological Filming
Thorsten Gieser, University of Koblenz-Landau
Abstract: Drawing on my ongoing fieldwork with German hunters since 2014, I explore an often overlooked aspect of hunting, the waiting before the kill. I introduce this phenomenon with my short film The Beauty of Hunting which essentially shows scene after scene of waiting; nothing much happens. And nevertheless, this is what hunting is about – most of the time. Hunting may culminate in an act of killing but something important happens before. It is the sheer endless waiting in a state of heightened awareness and observation I call vigilance, i.e. a consistent, active and multisensory engagement with one’s surroundings, a way of being alive to the world that manifests in minute adjustments of movement, posture, gestures, weapon handling, eye ball motion, etc., always being drawn by the possibility of an animal being out there somewhere.
In this state of vigilance, hunters often feel immersed in the landscape and weatherworld around them, becoming part of their surroundings, part of a world of rain, trees and mud. It is this sense of immersion that complements the sense of anticipation for the animal and that together make up the cardinal structure of hunting experience in this case.
The short film uses atmospheric scenes without narration/narrative to draw the viewer deeper into this double-sense of immersion and anticipation. It aims to create an opening for viewers to join in the bodily and sensual experience of the hunter and thereby to begin to comprehend how it is like to hunt. The film thus tries to evoke rather than represent or merely document hunting practices. In terms of filming, my phenomenological approach suggests to follow the lines of action, in a ‚joining-with‘ guided by previously sensitized skilled vision.