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Kellie Cavagnaro: A Digital Study in the Anthropology of Color

I am a doctoral student entering my fourth year in the anthropology department at Vanderbilt, engaged in a CMAP dual Ph.D. to enhance my understanding of indigenous media use within anti-mining protest movements. The stakes of this Maymester project were refreshingly light, in comparison to my ongoing anthropological focus on gender violence in the Andes. The digital study introduced here was about cultivating an intentional but open-ended experience for the participant– to foster their creative processes by providing settings and practices that supported the neurological conditions for creativity. My objective, most specifically, was to curate an opportunity for creative flexion—call it art therapy, a surrealist exquisite corpse, or a study in the anthropology of color. I was influenced by Michael Taussig, a cultural anthropologist who writes about color, human diversity and culture, and Nancy Andreasen, a neuropsychologist who studies color, creativity and human neural processes under varying conditions.


Tools: I engaged with digital media, plastic arts, and human collaborators.  My camera kit included a handheld Panasonic GH-5 with a micro-four thirds vario lens for up-close shots and footage taken in raw form, and a stationary Panasonic FZ-70 superzoom on tripod for auto time-lapse sequencing and distance shots. Audio was recorded separately using a Tascam DR-40. Throughout the collective art project, plastic media were acrylic and seltzer water 😉 on canvas