A Long Way back (2021)

” You can be free in prison and imprisoned while free”

Description: The protagonists of this film have spent their lives searching for freedom, while at the same time escaping loneliness. The choices they made each time led them to new trials, and life punished them again and again. They come into conflict with the law, their parents turn their backs on them, their partners abandon them, but they carry on with their lives without really knowing where to or what for. The stories of their lives are similar and at the same time the path of each was different. What does it mean to live properly, to be “like everyone else”, not to fall by the wayside, how to find the one and those who need you? The heroes of the film were at death’s door, they started from zero, fell to the bottom, spent many years behind bars… At some point they found out about a religious community whose ministers help people who are in a difficult life situation. And now the heroes of the film, in their opinion, are on their way to long-awaited freedom. This longed-for freedom has already taken a lot away – time, youth, health, friends.

The Liquid Supermarket (Midden)

The video is a journey through Boeng Trabaek channel, a sewage and storm water drain which runs through south end of the city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Filmed and edited by Dr Emit Snake-Beings over the two months spent crossing ‘stink canal’ on a daily basis, whilst staying in the city January – February 2019.

La sociologie comme elle s’apprend

La sociologie comme elle s’apprend” is the filmic narrative of a learning process—both of a discipline (with its scientific norms, analytic frames and methods) and of critical thinking on the social. Emphasizing the articulation between the international circulation of sociological theories and the localised reality of fieldwork in a provincial town in Russia, this documentary follows Russian students engaged in a French curriculum at the State Universities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg during a week of fieldwork internship. While most of these students never learned sociology or ethnography before, this internship, which is organised every year, is always very intensive. During a full week, we have meetings after meetings to talk about students’ difficulties in the field and help them formulating research questions. My job can also imply joining them in the field to support them and negotiate interviews if needed. And when they come back, late in the evening, after a day of observations and interviews, we talk about their results even if that is in the middle of the night. This is generally a 19/24h mentoring, as exhausting as it is stimulating.

My book was published in March 2019 by Palgrave MacMillan. The book includes photographs by myself, in addition to work from Ed Ruscha, Joel Sternfeld, Richard Misrach, Roy Arden, Wout Berger, Mikael Levin. An eclectic book that will make a critical contribution to other disciplines beyond visual sociology.

Blooming sunflowers on stone walls, mosaic flowers and swimming carps on stairs, wing of lost angel next to a house—these beautiful pictures of Ihwa Mural Village initially lured me into visiting. On my actual visit, however, it was not the cute little paintings on the wall that greeted me but aggressive messages painted in a violent red color by an angry villager— “The Rights to Rest”; “We Are Not Monkeys in the Cage”.

  • If you want to tell the untold stories, if you want to give voice to the voiceless, you’ve got to find a language. Which goes for film as well as prose, for documentary as well as autobiography. Use the wrong language, and you’re dumb and blind.

    Salman Rushdie

  • We never really know what’s around the corner when we’re filming – what turn a story will take, what a character will do or say to surprise us, how the events in the world will impact our story.

    Barbara Kopple

  • So it is my firm belief, that if you want nowadays, to have a clear and distinct communication of your concepts, you have to use synthetic images, no longer words.

    Vilém Flusser

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    If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.

    James Reston

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    The task for sociology is to come to the help of the individual. We have to be in service of freedom. It is something we have lost sight of.

    Zygmunt Bauman

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    Every photograph promises more than it delivers and delivers more than it intended.

    Steve Harp

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    There are dignified stupidities, and there are heroic stupidities, and there is such a thing as stupid stupidities, and that would be a stupid stupidity not to have a camera on board.

    Werner Herzog

  • You try your hardest to give people their space, but at moments you know you’re capturing their image in ways they may or may not be okay with. It’s that rocking back and forth between respect and betrayal that I feel like is at the heart of the film.

    Kirsten Johnson

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    Sometimes one picture is equal to 30 pages of discourse, just as there are things images are completely incapable of communicating.

    William S. Burroughs

  • Photographers learn to interpret photographs in that technical way because they want to understand and use that ‘language’ themselves (just as musicians learn a more technical musical language than the layman needs). Social scientists who want to work with visual materials will have to learn to approach them in this more studious and time-consuming way

    Howard Becker

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    Visual culture is now the study of how to understand change in a world too enormous to see but vital to imagine.

    Nicholas Mirzoeff

  • Watching a documentary with people hacking their way through some polar wasteland is merely a visual. Actually trying to deal with cold that can literally kill you is quite a different thing.

    Henry Rollins

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    Reality changes; in order to represent it, modes of representation must change.

    Bertolt Brecht

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    One advantage of photography is that it’s visual and can transcend language.

    Lisa Kristine

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    The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.

    Pierre Bourdieu

  • I believe that we face incredible obstacles in our attempts to see the world. Everything in our nature tries to deny the world around us; to refabricate it in our own image; to reinvent it for our own benefit. And so, it becomes something of a challenge, a task, to recover (or at least attempt to recover) the real world despite all the impediments to that end.

    Errol Morris

  • Before I became a film major, I was very heavily into social science, I had done a lot of sociology, anthropology, and I was playing in what I call social psychology, which is sort of an offshoot of anthropology/sociology – looking at a culture as a living organism, why it does what it does.

    George Lucas

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    For any picture, ask yourself what question or questions it might be answering. Since the picture could answer many, questions, we can decide what question we are interested in.

    Howard Becker

  • Give us adequate images. We lack adequate images. Our civilization does not have adequate images. And I think a civilization is doomed or is going to die out like dinosaurs if it doesn’t develop an adequate language for adequate images.

    Werner Herzog

#Visualsociology

Katy Wareham Morris

RT @sociologyworc: Documentary and portrait photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith's photographs which share the "human experience of living with…

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