While Duke students head into finals period, two will present the culmination of their work in documentary.
Seniors Aedan Hannon and Andrea Kim will present their capstone projects for the documentary studies certificate Dec. 6 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Center for Documentary Studies.
Although the presentations focus on different issues, they both use the documentary framework to explore a global topic from a personal perspective. In her video “The (In)visible Organ,” Kim documents research that aims to address cervical cancer by examining the speculum, a medical device used in pelvic exams. In his photography and poetry, Hannon hopes to spark a conversation on the relationship humans have with nature in contrasting natural and man-made settings.
Both projects began with introspection. Kim dove into her subject after realizing how little she knew about her own reproductive anatomy.
“[I didn’t know] what my ovulation and menstruation cycles say about my body,” Kim said. “I was perplexed by the fact that the speculum hasn’t been redesigned in centuries. I was learning so much about barriers to women’s health and the lack of women-centric design, so the importance of this topic became pretty clear to me.”
Through her documentary, Kim hopes to spark thought and conversation about female reproductive anatomy.
“If it produces any new perception about women’s health and our bodies, then I think as a film it has done its job,” she said.
Like Kim, Hannon dove into his capstone project from a personal space.
“This project is really about how I see the environment," Hannon said. "I’m the type of person that can be in a stunning mountain landscape but focus on the smallest piece of barbed wire or human element left behind. The project has become an exposé of how I view the natural world.”
Rather than sticking with the tradition of documentary photography, which focuses mostly on the experience of humans, Hannon decided to give voice to the natural world by removing human beings from his work.
“I initially wanted to focus on pollution and the way the things human beings leave behind harm the environment," said Hannon. "But after some advice, the project quickly came to be more about the human elements we leave behind in ‘natural’ or ‘wild’ environments and the natural elements we incorporate into our urban landscapes.”
The relationship between humans and nature became much more clear to Hannon as he traveled, allowing him to redefine a common narrative.
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“While most people would focus on the harm humans are doing to the environment by polluting and altering landscapes, I wanted to get away from the pessimism and instead show how closely related humans and the environment are,” Hannon said.
Through the certificate program, students have been able to explore their passions in various fields while developing transferable skills.
“The classes I’ve taken at CDS have made me more creative, helped me to become a better writer, and provided me with the technical experience to be able to create my own works,” Hannon said.
Both Kim and Hannon plan to apply to postgraduate programs after they graduate, and plan to incorporate documentary work in some way.
“I plan to go home to California and apply to graduate schools," Kim said. "I’m usually at school or traveling, so I want to take advantage of my time at home to make a documentary about my parents and their experiences immigrating from Korea to the states."
“I’m graduating here in December so the first thing I’m doing is going back to Colorado and going skiing,” Hannon said. “I’ll hopefully be attending an MFA program for writing and photography in the next few years to further expand on a lot of what I’ve done at CDS.”