Along the Kochuchum

The Kochuchum river flows into the Nizhnaia Tunguska (a major tributary to the Enisei river in central Siberia). In this silent clip I'm travelling up stream with Branat, a reindeer herder, away from the district capital, Tura. We're motoring along with Genia in a Ministry of Forests boat. Our goal is to return Branat to his herd of reindeer located thirty kilometers up the river. At the end of this short piece, Branat waves to the river shore and says something that is drowned out by the clattering drone of the engine and the torrent of wind overflowing through the camera's microphone.

The movie that is playing is meant to be a kind of digital flip-book and is actually a reconstruction of a real flipbook that I made (see above). Of course, there really is no way of replicating the sensuousness of an actual flip-book: something you hold in your hands, which delivers a few instances of apparent movement amidst its own technological failures. All the same, digital-reproduction promises to deliver these images to the masses. I'm not sure if the film diminishes the aura of the original flip-book, or if it has any revolutionary potential, or even if it would satisfy the urge to get hold of this object at very close range. At the very least, we might say that this is phantasmagoric, especially in its distended reference to a flip-book, which was a video, which was an event and constitutes proof of something which once was — not to mention my own authority.

While the Soviet state collapsed in 1991, its legacies have continued to impact on the way that Evenki hunters and herders experience their ancestral lands. The flip-book was originally made in association with a paper I wrote on de-mobilization and the legacies of collapsing Soviet landscapes in the late 1990s (Campbell 2003). This scene is also part of a longer video shown at the 2002 conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies.


references cited

Campbell, Craig A.R. (2003) Contrails of Globalization and the View from the Ground: An Essay on Isolation in East-Central Siberia. in Polar Geography, Vol. 27, No. 2, April 2003: pp. 97-120.

"Po reke: negotiating mobility on the river ways of Siberia". Short video and paper presented at the Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies in Edinburgh, Scotland. September 9-13, 2002.






po kochuchum