A screengrab from Skate Like a Girl, a film by Darya Tyugay.


SIAT film course adapts to the pandemic

January 19, 2021

See original French language article "Des vidéos pour parer à la pandémie" by Liam Sfaxi in La Source.
Translated by Liam Sfaxi.

Much like many other periods of instability in the history of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic shows humanity’s ability to adapt to the way of life that is currently permitted. One key example of adaptation is the professors and teachers who have had to adapt their curriculum to new circumstances where they are not authorized to see their students.

Kate Hennessy, a professor with the School of Interactive Arts & Technology (SIAT), at Simon Fraser University (SFU), is one of these professors who has had to adapt their whole pedagogy to a world where her students are not in her classroom or, as she states, not necessarily in Vancouver. This course, Interactive Arts Technology (IAT), is a videography course that gives students the opportunity to work with “different cultural institutions to make documentaries that would support their exhibition programs,” explains Professor Hennessy. One of the partner cultural institutions is the Museum of Vancouver (MOV) where Viviane Gosselin, Director of Collections and Exhibitions, has worked with Professor Hennessy and her class in the past to help them with their documentaries. This partnership would reveal itself to be very useful during the 2020 pandemic.

The first few months of the pandemic saw a widespread change in the behavior of museums. Ms. Gosselin discloses that at the beginning of the pandemic, the MOV had to ask itself a very important question: “How does [the Museum of Vancouver] remain relevant and how do they play a role in addressing the crisis, […] and being empathetic, alleviating some of the pain and discomfort and provide a platform where people can share their experience with COVID?” The answer to this question? The hashtag #IsolatingTogetherMOV, omnipresent during the beginning months of the pandemic, which asked people to share their experiences of quarantine by posting videos and photographs with this hashtag. To Professor Hennessy, this idea was perfect for her class. She approached Ms. Gosselin and asked her the following question: “What if we built the whole course around #IsolatingTogetherMOV?”

A screengrab from Skate Like a Girl by Darya Tyugay

A New Pedagogy
This new approach to school raises the question, how do you teach a videography course online? Ms. Hennessy reveals that she “spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to teach a video course online without access to the normal equipment that [they] would [normally] have, because [there is] a really excellent equipment library at SIAT, and when students are learning video production they can check out really great equipment.” She therefore told herself that the students would have to create some DIY movie equipment at home based on what they had. If the students didn’t own a camera, a cell phone would be just as good for filming and recording scenes. Ms. Gosselin says that “what impressed me was that she told her students to not buy equipment. She pushed them to use what is around them to film their lives that would be incorporated into a small exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver.” These DIY sessions that Ms. Hennessy coordinated were just the tip of the iceberg in terms of helpful resources she provided her students. She also conducted and recorded multiple interviews with professionals in the world of photography and videography which she then played in her class for her students. In addition to this, Ms. Gosselin also worked a lot with the students as an “informed critic who gives feedback on their projects.” This new curriculum gave students the ability to work and document completely independently no matter where they were in the world.

One of the students in Professor Hennessy’s course and the director of the documentary Skate Like a Girl is Darya Tyugay. Her documentary discusses her experience in Vancouver during the pandemic, far from her family in Kazakhstan, and how skateboarding helped her deal with the pandemic and improve her mental health. Ms. Tyugay was very happy with the class and how it was taught. “This has been one of my favorite classes at SIAT,” she says. “We have had a lot of creative liberty.” The DIY sessions helped her quite a bit and she finds that as a result of this, many of the movies are very original. “I really liked this course. I didn’t have many expectations for it but it was awesome,” adds Ms. Tyugay.

While waiting for the exhibition showcasing the student movies this summer at the Museum of Vancouver, all of the videos are available on the YouTube channel of the Museum of Vancouver under #IsolatingTogetherMOV. If one thing is certain, it is that the Museum of Vancouver will have phenomenal additions to its collection with these beautiful student films.

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/groups/665785647299288/

See the original article here.