Guardians of the Night: Sensing Nocturnal Rhythms in Guantánamo

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Alexandrine BOUDREAULT-FOURNIER, University of Victoria, Canada
Guardian of the Night (2018), co-directed with Eleonora Diamanti, is an experimental and sensorial short-length ethnographic film about the cyclical and spontaneous life activities that emerge at night time in the city of Guantánamo. Entirely shot at night time, the film engages with the synesthetic aspect of practices that take place in Cuba after the sunset, from the post-revolutionary guardia sessions of neighborhood night watching, to nocturnal activities related to technology, media infrastructure, and night time economy. The senses are at the centre of the night experience along with reduction of visibility. This creates a perfect focus to reinvigorate discussion and to promote an innovative approach around sensory visual ethnography. Moreover, the film challenges the day-centered focus of social sciences in engaging with nocturnal activities in order to undertake an anthropology of the night. Being shot in a context where vision is limited, the paper engages with some of the strategies adopted by the directors to develop a multisensorial experiencing of the night in Cuba. More specifically, strategies of video shooting, sound recording, sound and video montage, and a careful attention to shadows and movements will be discussed. Based on extensive sessions of sound recordings accompanied by an original soundtrack produced by Cuban DJ Zevil the film is especially rich in sonic textures and poetry, stimulating new essences of sensing the night. Poetic performances of the night travel through the lenses of the camera accompanied by the sounds and shadows of the Cuban streets. Guardians of the Night reflects a desire to play with rhythms, shadows, performance, design and poetry in using video and sounds as mediators of the night experience. Clips from the film will be used to illustrate some of the strategies developed to stimulate a synesthetic atmosphere of the shadows that live through the night.