Cynthia Browne’s broad research interests reside in the overlapping terrain between post-World War II artistic production and anthropological endeavors. She currently does fieldwork on and in the Ruhr region of Germany. Prior to Harvard, she traveled to, from, and around Uganda, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives conducing researching on a myriad of topics (i.e. telemedicine, re-integration of child ex-combatants, democratic movements in authoritarian states). As a practitioner of critical media, she hopes to render palpable the enigmas of experience through cinematic means; that is to say, works sewn of reticent fact.
Caught between a past no longer viable and a future not certain, Germany’s Ruhr (aka Ruhrpott, das Revier) is a landscape full of spatial and temporal disjunctures. For those unfamiliar, the Ruhr was arguably the former industrial heartland of Germany —mostly mining and steel production—reaching its peak production in the mid-20th century before experiencing a slow, steady, but also uneven decline in second tier industry over the past fifty years.
Browne’s CMP capstone project, currently titled “Ruhr: A Specious Present,” is a video typtych and media installation piece that addresses questions of temporality and landscape in the wake of the Ruhr’s Strukturwandel (processs of strucutral change) through the depiction of three discrete sites; the piece encompasses footage depicting 1) work in the tunnels, with its artificial light, steam, noise and camaraderie, 2) post-work play on a coal mountain spoil heap– barren, isolated, vast, and beautiful, and 3) a montage of demolition shots depicting the destruction of industry.