THE DEVIL'S INSTRUMENT
Rachel Ward, 10 min., 2011
Ethnographic Portait (10 min.)
Filmed & Edited
Rachel M. Ward
Dr. Melinda Hinkson and Dr. Natasha Fijn
Australian National University (ANU)
For this video assignment, I had initially planned to construct a portrait of my brother -- a displaced American soul in the tumultuous depths of Canberra, Australia. I felt that this would be an interesting ethnography, as Max has very specific interests and very strong viewpoints that don't always necessarily resonate with his Australian peers. He is passionate, obsessive in all fairness, about playing the violin, which he plays in an old-time Appalachian style. I feel that I have come to know Max for the first time, and have found that Max's music defines his very nature, interactions, and expression of himself as a human being. In other words, I have come to know the violin almost more than Max himself. The incessant playing begins at 8 o'clock in the morning and generally ceases long past midnight. I have come to know this instrument in an almost personal, contested manner as a constant presence in my life. In many ways, I have given anthropomorphic qualities to this beastly instrument, itself becoming incarnated with a life of its own. Max has admitted time and time again that he feels possessed by this instrument and that they "don't call it the devil's instrument for nothing." Thus, for this project, I would like to do a portrait of the violin itself, the ways it possesses Max and the manner in which it foisted itself into our lives, for better or worse.