Dr. Perla Carrillo Quiroga
Embodiment and The Senses in Travelogue Filmmaking
I first became interested in the embodied experience of travel as I was walking up the ‘Cerro del Quemado’ in central Mexico, to a Huichol sanctuary on top of a mountain in the middle of the Mexican desert. The site marks the end of a pilgrimage route for the Huichol people. This was the first of several walking journeys in different pilgrimage and hiking routes, where I continuously explored ways of recording, translating and expressing the embodied experience of travel into audiovisual media. Armed with a portable video camera, a small tripod and a digital photo camera I gathered thousands of images and hundreds of hours of video footage during walking journeys in Mexico, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, England and Wales from 2007 to 2010. The aim was to bridge the audiovisual limits of film in order to translate embodied and sensuous experience through a haptic mode of vision, directly addressing the synaesthesic senses as an integral part of the cinematic experience.
9 Meditations can be contextualized in relation to the travelogue film genre, which has brought to generations of spectators images of places and cultures from around the world, offering the experience of travel through the cinema screen. However, the travelogue film has systematically portrayed the experience of travel as a visually itinerant activity, dismissing the affective and embodied aspects of travelling in favour of optical and spectacular forms of representing space and place. Obvious as it may seem, when we travel, we not only ‘see’ other places, but feel, sense, smell, touch, taste and move through them. Through our body we are able to anchor our perceptual and sensorial existence to a changing surrounding as we engage sensorially in space. Similarly, the cinematic experience cannot be considered as merely audiovisual because it is not reduced to audiovisual perception but rather extends across our sensing body, in a dynamic way between and across all the senses. Through film, and especially through the travelogue film, we inhabit and experience other places.
9 Meditations is an experimental travelogue film about the ways in which embodied and sensuous experience can be translated into film practice.