Using video in sport: learning from artists

Sport has been voracious in its use of video. The availability of domestic video cameras and playback facilities since the late 1970s has made it possible to make permanent recordings of sporting events to augment the information available to coaches and athletes. Converging digital technologies have transformed the ways in which video can be captured, stored, analysed and represented. A plethora of on-line video tools stimulated by YouTube‘s success make video sharing increasingly possible and relatively easy (it is YouTube’s fifth anniversary this month and has a global audience of 400 million people).

Access to video through telephones and portable storage devices such as the iPod has extended the reach of video as augmented information. The transformation of broadcast images through High Definition technology is setting new expectations about quality and clarity of recordings.

Perhaps the next wave of developing the use of video in sport will come from the art community. Shaun Gladwell and Sylvie Bocher are two artists who might inform this change.

Shaun Gladwell was interviewed on Radio National Artworks. Shaun is the most recent war artist commissioned by the Australian war Memorial. His appointment was fascinating as his work to date “has displayed a keen eye for edginess, with meditations on road-kill, the outback and the mesmerising movements and symbols of urban hip-hop culture”. “Unlike most war artists who are invited to take the risk of accompanying soldiers into battle, Shaun didn’t wait to be approached.”

Examples of Shaun’s work can be found on his YouTube channel and Blue and White Linework.

Sylvie Blocher is “one of France’s most outstanding multimedia artists”. She produces “video and film installation pieces which explore the concepts of otherness, representation and art’s political responsibility”. Her work “encourages different ways of viewing and understanding the world”. Her website is a wonderful invitation to explore visual presentation. Sylvie’s exhibition What is Missing? is taking place at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney until 26 April 2010.  This exhibition uses images collected in Penrith, NSW. A note about her exhibition reports that:

When creating What Is Missing? Sylvie Blocher stipulated only two conditions for people appearing in her ‘film’: that the volunteer subjects wear their best outfit, and that they lived in Penrith. Blocher’s interview technique often elicits responses of great candour from her subjects. Unveiling the unspoken needs, hopes, dreams and desires of individual residents of Penrith, What Is Missing? is a portrait of the city in which they live – it is challenging, provocative and riveting.

Shaun and Sylvie’s work have encouraged me to think how video might be used differently in sport settings. Their work inspires a new approach to visual literacy.

Photo Credits

Phillips Video Camera

Sylvie Blocher

Brain Games

This post has been in draft form for a while. This month a number of research reports have been sharpening discussion about the role the brain plays in learning compared to the mind.

Two items caught my attention and encouraged my own reflection on the brain and mind possibilities.

The Australian Stage reviewed Seven Boards of Skill performed at the Perth International Arts Festival. The performance is based upon the Chinese Tangram and in this stage version seven giant geometric shapes, five triangles, a square and a parallelogram are used as the set for fourteen performers. Paul Rand has suggested “that the main principle to be learned (about the Tangram) is that of economy of means – making the most of the least.”  Given the virtuosity of the performers in Seven Boards of Skill I wondered how coaches and teachers might transform learning environments and explore ‘the economy of means’. This is a French video report about the creator of the Seven Boards performance, Aurelien Bory.

In the same week that the Seven Boards was being performed in Perth, Deborah Ruf was in town too discussing pathways for gifted children. Her interview on Radio National’s Life Matters led me to her writings about giftedness. Her article on individualising opportunities for gifted children, for example, is a great stimulus to thinking about learning environments.

Photo Credits

Seven Boards


Speaking About Performance: Hearing Other Narratives

Back in 1988 Donald Polkinghorne produced the delightful book Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. In his preface to the book he observes that “practitioners work with narrative knowledge. They are concerned with people’s stories…”

In Chapter Two he notes that “Narrative is the fundamental scheme for linking individual human actions and events into interrelated aspects of an understandable composite.” His insights resonated with qualitative research I was doing in the 1980s and have informed my work ever since. They added to my reading of Miller Mair‘s work at that time too.

I have been prompted to revisit their ideas about narrative and storytelling following two fascinating radio programs and the discovery that Miller Mair is a keynote speaker at the 2010 CPN Conference. His workshop at the conference is titled Imaginative Writing as Psychological Enquiry. The information for the workshop states:

If we are psychologists, counselors or psychotherapists, we live and work in conversation. This means we have to engage more fully with the ambiguities, surprises and riches of language. Writing as a significant mode of inquiry will be approached as a form of conversation.

These “ambiguities, surprises and riches of language” enchant me too! The Clyde Street blog contains a number of posts about writing and narrative. There are posts about performance too. My interest centres on how these elements are focussed in coaching and learning.

The two radio programs that ignited my desire to write today are Barry Lopez’s discussion with Ramona Koval on Radio National’s Book Show and Ramona Koval’s interview with Lady Antonia Fraser.

In the first program, Barry Lopez (who is taking part in the 2010 Perth Writers’ Festival) discusses Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape (edited by Debra Gwartney and Barry Lopez). I enjoyed in particular Barry and Ramona’s discussion of William deBuys‘ discussion of ‘ripple’ in his story of New Mexico.

A week before the Barry Lopez interview, Ramona Koval interviewed Lady Antonia Fraser about her account of her life with Harold Pinter Must You Go? I enjoyed this interview enormously partly because of Ramona Koval’s questions and Lady Fraser’s discussion of the role of a biographer in telling the story of a creative artist. I thought Ramona’s use of her own meetings with Harold Pinter at the Edinburgh festival were wonderful anchors for her conversation with Lady Antonia.

This convergence of ideas around narrative has furthered my interest in how we discuss, describe and share performance in sport. My thoughts about narrative and story telling were framed two decades ago by Donald Polkinghorne, Miller Mair, and John van Maanen. They were harbingers of a wonderful approach to story sharing. In the last year I have become a real fan of Ramona Koval’s Book Show and her interviews with Barry Lopez and Lady Antonia Fraser were gems. Collectively they all provide a discourse that has enormous possibilities for those interested in exploring coaching and learning in sport.

I believe any discussion about performance in sport is enriched by our openness to the forms and contents of other narratives. This post is part of an ongoing story about coming to know performance.

Photo Credits

Private Conversation

Donald Polkinghorne

Miller Mair

Barry Lopez

Ramona Koval

Lady Antonia Fraser