Video Recording Practices and the Reflexive Constitution of the Interactional Order: Some Systematic Uses of the Split-Screen Technique

Human Studies 32 (1):67-99 (2009)
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Abstract

In this paper, I deal with video data not as a transparent window on social interaction but as a situated product of video practices. This perspective invites an analysis of the practices of video-making, considering them as having a configuring impact on both on the way in which social interaction is documented and the way in which it is locally interpreted by video-makers. These situated interpretations and online analyses reflexively shape not only the record they produce but also the interactional order itself as it is documented. Dealing with practices of video-making not as a resource but as a topic, I explore a particular editing practice, the use of the split-screen technique, consisting in combining various camera views within the same image. This technique is now widely used in cinema, professional settings, TV, and social research. I focus on its uses in TV talk shows and debates: through a systematic sequential analysis of the positions where split screen is introduced, I show that directors do orient to the sequential features of interaction in using this technique and that, conversely, their uses of split screen reveal their local understanding—and configuring—of what the interactional dimension of debates and interviews consist of, for all practical purposes.

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Lorenza Mondada
University of Basel