Composite Method

The Absent Presence of Race in Experimental Film and Facial Composite Drawing



This paper explores how race comes to matter in the practice of police facial composite drawing. The confidential nature of criminal investigations prevented us from using research material collected through observations of police practices. The authors developed an experimental film project in collaboration with two forensic artists to illuminate the production of (visual) differences in the context of facial composite drawing. We recorded the process using a variety of technologies to produce different materializations of the drawing event. The experimental setting created a reflexive space for all participants, albeit not in the same way. Tinkering with the materials generated allowed us to analyze the enactment and slipperiness of race in practice. This paper combines written text with experimental montage to address three different practices through which race takes shape in the process of making facial composite drawings: 1) touching as describing; 2) layering and surfacing; and 3) articulating the common.


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Special Issue: Methodography of Ethnographic Collaboration


2021-03-09 — Updated on 2021-09-15


How to Cite

Bleumink, R., Jong, L. and Plájás, I. Z. (2021) “Composite Method: The Absent Presence of Race in Experimental Film and Facial Composite Drawing”, Science & Technology Studies, 34(3), pp. 17–37. doi: 10.23987/sts.80293.