Skip to Content

Expedition Content

  • Friday, March 18, 2022
  • 12:00 p.m.
  • DC Environmental Film Festival
  • Virtual Program

Streaming on the DC Environmental Film Festival website
March 18 through March 27, 2022

Most films privilege images at the expense of sound, and soundtracks over quiet moments. Ethnographic films, a form of nonfiction anthropological “research,” traditionally are no different, shaping narratives about “the other” under the guise of scientific detachment and objectivity. Produced at Harvard University’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, Expedition Content attends almost exclusively to audio recordings made during a 1961 visit by members of Harvard’s Peabody Museum, Film Study Center, to Netherlands New Guinea (current-day West Papua). Organized by renowned ethnographic filmmaker Robert Gardner, the expedition settled for five months in the Baliem Valley, among the Hubula (also known as Dani) people. Among the documentarians was Michael Rockefeller, tasked with capturing field audio recordings and conversations with the Dani. Ernst Karel and Veronika Kusumaryati use these audio recordings to develop a nuanced soundscape reflective of colonial politics and cultural complexities captured on reel-to-reel tape. (Kusumaryati and Karel, 2020, 78 minutes) Presented in partnership with the DC Environmental Film Festival.

Click here to learn more about the Film Programs: Virtual Cinema at the National Gallery.
The Virtual Cinema at the National Gallery presents various programs of digitized films, video, and media art once a month online, free and accessible across the United States.