• en
  • de


  • Com­pa­ra­ti­ve work studies with the camera: Darcy Lange


    Jörg Markowitsch

    With his camera, the artist Darcy Lange provided important scientific material on work and education, which still begs to be analysed in social and educational research.

    In the early 1970s, the Kiwi artist Darcy Lange (1946 — 2005) began film studies on the topic of ‘People at Work’. He thus follows in the tradition of Lewis Hine, Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange (no relation), who became famous for their photo docu­men­ta­ti­on of farm workers com­mis­sio­ned by the US Farm Security Admi­nis­tra­ti­on in the 1930s.

    While his claim to use the camera as an instru­ment of social reform is akin to his peers, Lange in contrast goes beyond them in his metho­do­lo­gy. His filmic works are com­pa­ra­ti­ve social-anthro­po­lo­gi­cal analyses par excellence.

    In “A Docu­men­ta­ti­on of Bradford Working Life”, Lange selected four factories (he called them “situa­tions”) and took shots of specific work actions of no more than five workers (he called them “studies”). Each of the 15 studies consisted of 10-minute video record­ings, two 16mm film record­ings (of the first and last half minute of the video) and a black and white photograph.

    According to Mercedes Vicente, whose dis­ser­ta­ti­on and various exhi­bi­ti­ons on Darcy Lange have made a signi­fi­cant con­tri­bu­ti­on to ensuring that his work is not forgotten, Lange endea­vou­red to depict reality as “inter­ven­ti­on-free” as possible. This also explains why he used all three media (video, film, photo) simul­ta­ne­ous­ly to record one and the same image detail with sys­te­ma­tic precision (Vicente 2009, p. 40). He thus explored both the potential and the limi­ta­ti­on of each media for his inves­ti­ga­ti­ons. A similar com­pa­ra­ti­ve metho­do­lo­gi­cal approach can be found in his “Work Studies in schools”, 1976–78 (more to come on that later in this blog).

    By not editing or changing camera angles or repeating shots, Lange’s videos are thus an attempt to directly document reality. The viewer is not accused of having a par­ti­cu­lar point of view or any type of bias, making any claims that the montage rips things out of context, unfounded. The works are thus also deli­ber­ate­ly in contrast to con­ven­tio­nal docu­men­ta­ries, which is also reflected in the act of viewing: Watching Lange’s videos is more like studying sci­en­ti­fic material than the passive con­sump­ti­on of a TV documentary.

    However, it is precisely this unadul­te­ra­ted and com­pa­ra­ti­ve access to the supposed reality that makes Lange’s work inte­res­ting for work and edu­ca­tio­nal research. Thanks to Mercedes Vicente, Darcy Lange post­hu­mous­ly gained the fame he deserves in the expe­ri­men­tal art film scene, and has recently being showcased at Tate Modern in London in 2017. He has yet to be dis­co­ve­r­ed for research and, sub­se­quent­ly, for social and edu­ca­tio­nal policy either, to which he wanted to make a con­tri­bu­ti­on throughout his entire life.

    I owe my intro­duc­tion to Darcy Lange to my friend, the artist, Gregor Schmoll.

    Refe­ren­ces:
    Vicente, Mercedes (2009). Darcy Lange, Camera Austria, No. 108.
    Vicente, Mercedes (2017). Images of people at work: the video­ma­king of Darcy Lange (Doctoral dis­ser­ta­ti­on, Royal College of Art).

    Fragments of Darcy Lange's Videos 

    Darcy Lange, A Documentation of Bradford Working Life, UK, 1974

    Tags

    Com­pa­ra­ti­ve work studies with the camera: Darcy Lange

    Jörg Markowitsch

    With his camera, the artist Darcy Lange provided important scientific material on work and education, which still begs to be analysed in social and educational research.

    In the early 1970s, the Kiwi artist Darcy Lange (1946 — 2005) began film studies on the topic of ‘People at Work’. He thus follows in the tradition of Lewis Hine, Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange (no relation), who became famous for their photo docu­men­ta­ti­on of farm workers com­mis­sio­ned by the US Farm Security Admi­nis­tra­ti­on in the 1930s.

    While his claim to use the camera as an instru­ment of social reform is akin to his peers, Lange in contrast goes beyond them in his metho­do­lo­gy. His filmic works are com­pa­ra­ti­ve social-anthro­po­lo­gi­cal analyses par excellence.

    In “A Docu­men­ta­ti­on of Bradford Working Life”, Lange selected four factories (he called them “situa­tions”) and took shots of specific work actions of no more than five workers (he called them “studies”). Each of the 15 studies consisted of 10-minute video record­ings, two 16mm film record­ings (of the first and last half minute of the video) and a black and white photograph.

    According to Mercedes Vicente, whose dis­ser­ta­ti­on and various exhi­bi­ti­ons on Darcy Lange have made a signi­fi­cant con­tri­bu­ti­on to ensuring that his work is not forgotten, Lange endea­vou­red to depict reality as “inter­ven­ti­on-free” as possible. This also explains why he used all three media (video, film, photo) simul­ta­ne­ous­ly to record one and the same image detail with sys­te­ma­tic precision (Vicente 2009, p. 40). He thus explored both the potential and the limi­ta­ti­on of each media for his inves­ti­ga­ti­ons. A similar com­pa­ra­ti­ve metho­do­lo­gi­cal approach can be found in his “Work Studies in schools”, 1976–78 (more to come on that later in this blog).

    By not editing or changing camera angles or repeating shots, Lange’s videos are thus an attempt to directly document reality. The viewer is not accused of having a par­ti­cu­lar point of view or any type of bias, making any claims that the montage rips things out of context, unfounded. The works are thus also deli­ber­ate­ly in contrast to con­ven­tio­nal docu­men­ta­ries, which is also reflected in the act of viewing: Watching Lange’s videos is more like studying sci­en­ti­fic material than the passive con­sump­ti­on of a TV documentary.

    However, it is precisely this unadul­te­ra­ted and com­pa­ra­ti­ve access to the supposed reality that makes Lange’s work inte­res­ting for work and edu­ca­tio­nal research. Thanks to Mercedes Vicente, Darcy Lange post­hu­mous­ly gained the fame he deserves in the expe­ri­men­tal art film scene, and has recently being showcased at Tate Modern in London in 2017. He has yet to be dis­co­ve­r­ed for research and, sub­se­quent­ly, for social and edu­ca­tio­nal policy either, to which he wanted to make a con­tri­bu­ti­on throughout his entire life.

    I owe my intro­duc­tion to Darcy Lange to my friend, the artist, Gregor Schmoll.

    Refe­ren­ces:
    Vicente, Mercedes (2009). Darcy Lange, Camera Austria, No. 108.
    Vicente, Mercedes (2017). Images of people at work: the video­ma­king of Darcy Lange (Doctoral dis­ser­ta­ti­on, Royal College of Art).

    Fragments of Darcy Lange's Videos

    Darcy Lange, A Documentation of Bradford Working Life, UK, 1974

    Tags


    Forced labour even after death

    Forced labour even after death

    A capitalism-critical reading of the zombie film on the occasion of the release of Zombi Child (2019) by Bertrand Bonello.

    The bossy Apps

    The bossy Apps

    What remains of the great promise of the gig economy: freedom through autonomy.

    Society without connection

    Society without connection

    The new film "Please hold the line" (2020) by Pavel Cuzuioc loosely follows the work of service technicians in the telecommunications industry in the far east of Europe while actually portraying their customers more. Those who are in danger of losing their connection to society.

    Forklift-Conflicts

    Forklift-Conflicts

    In the Aisles (2018) by Thomas Stuber is the ultimate warehouse-worker feature film. There has never been so much 'workplace' featured in a movie, set in a wholesale market, with so much insight into learning the ropes of an unskilled job. On top of that, romance.

    Korea's Generation Internship 4.0

    Korea’s Genera­ti­on Internship 4.0

    The TV series "Misaeng: Incomplete Life" gives deep insights into South-Korea's working world and the difficult transition to get there.

    Still, Lazzaro is happy

    Still, Lazzaro is happy

    Alice Rohrwacher's film about the dubious liberation from a relationship of subjection

    1 19 20 21 22 23 30


    About this blog

    By selecting a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. They are both based in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their cor­re­spon­ding articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.

    About this blog

    With picking a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. We both work in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their respec­ti­ve articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.