Archaeology’s Moving Images

Author(s): Angela Piccini

Year: 2015


Ruth Tringham belongs to a small group of archaeologists who engage seriously with the media practices through which archaeology disciplines itself. She has tirelessly worked to place audio-visual media – from film to networked media – at the heart of how we think about and do archaeology. In a 2009 paper about the UC Berkeley Archaeological Film Database, Tringham sought to move debate beyond reductive critiques of archaeological accuracy to explore how it is that we watch films about the past, how we use them in our teaching and in our research, how we create meaning and how we watch critically. By introducing archaeologists to the key questions that structure narrative fiction and documentary, Tringham taught us that screen grammar (cinematography, sound, lighting, editing, mise-en-scène), aesthetics, narrative, production contexts, industry structures and audience all shape how archaeology becomes subject matter, practice and discipline. Where Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley called upon archaeologists to understand media manifestations as rhetorical performances rather than as representations (1992: 95), Tringham has given archaeologists the precise tools required to become reflexive, critical-creative practitioners. In this presentation, I consider Tringham’s engagements with the ‘liveness’ of the moving image and with archaeology’s diverse travels across our screens.

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Cite this Record

Archaeology’s Moving Images. Angela Piccini. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395010)