Is there a better way than the testimony, the collection of thoughts of the one who reflects on his practice as a techniques’ ethnologist for more than 30 years, to explore the “echno-graphies”?
This trajectory is his own, it is atypical. But it accompanies the epistemological and methodological evolution of the practices of the “specialists of the techniques”. His is characterized by the incessant search, since his beginnings as an ethno-archaeologist, of new “tools” to better capture, understand and (re-) produce technical practices as social practices. On his way, other researchers, “snoopers” and poets of human reality have come across him, and built with him.
Philippe Geslin relates how he field-tested the concepts and tools from the theoretical and methodological debates that emerged in the 1980s around Cultural Technology. These experiences brought him in the 90s, to get closer to ergonomics and cognitive sciences. He thus passes from operating chains to analysis of the activity, opening in fact to new modes of seeing, capturing the technical practices. At the intersection of these two visions, he develops anthropotechnology, with Alain Wisner, as a “disciplinary field”.
The anthropotechnology institutionalization in 2007 through the EDANA laboratory at the Haute École Arc in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and the many applied projects developed by this team, thus generates a dynamic that mixing experimentation and reflection around the tools of restitution and analysis in an applicative and prescriptive perspective. Creation of interactive platforms for the restitution of know-how, creation of a FabLab, project of editions in ethno-photography were tested.
Through his story, it is understood that the forms of analysis and restitution cannot be considered outside a context, a request, an ambition. Each assuming different “forms”. But all have in common the necessary understanding of and by the bodies.
In recent years, those forms created by Philippe Geslin have become more and more sensitive, implicit and explicit at the same time. Photography, which he has always used, becomes central. Contrast and subtlety. Strangeness and evidence (Laplantine, 2017). He also uses video, unvarnished, without editing. He thus returns to a “primitive” form of ethnography: feeling, sensing, showing. Path that culminates with the staging of his fields by Macha Makeieff, who takes him as an object of study. In staging him, the ambition is to show the ethnology in action.