Anthropology of ourselves
by Celia Hannon
'In Bolton, a team of paid investigators went into a variety of public situations: meetings, religious occasions, sporting and leisure activities, in the street and at work, and recorded people's behaviour and conversation in as much detail as possible. The material they produced is a varied documentary account of life in Britain.
The National Panel of Diarists was composed of people from all over Britain who either kept diaries or replied to regular open-ended questionnaires send to them by the central team of Mass-Observers.'
For our project Children of Europa we've been watching short videos made by young Europeans as they try to document their everyday lives and the things which are important to them. Many of them naturally gravitate towards filming self-portraits. Of course, self-portraiture has long been an important way of understanding ourselves and each other - whether it's a written diary entry, a painting or a video posted on you tube. I wonder whether the technological tools mean it's any more widespread now? Or the end product is any more immediate or powerful? I guess you were unlikely to share your diary entry with thousands of strangers back in 1937...