Form the abstract:
This thesis concentrates on the emerging field of interactive documentaries. Digital interactive and networked media offer so many new possibilities to document reality that it is necessary to define what an interactive documentary is and whether there is any continuity with the linear documentary form. This research therefore proposes a definition of interactive documentaries and a taxonomy of the genre based on the idea of modes of interaction – where types of interactions are seen as the fundamental differentiator between interactive documentaries.
Gaudenzi, Sandra 2013. The Living Documentary: from representing reality to co-creating reality in digital interactive documentary .Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London. [Thesis]
Database/Narrative/Archive, Seven interactive essays on digital nonlinear storytelling
edited by Matt Soar & Monika Gagnon
Database|Narrative|Archive is a collection of seven ‘essays’ by leading thinkers and makers in the emergent medium of nonlinear digital storytelling. Each contribution has been conceived and written for Scalar, an interactive, multimedia, scholarly publishing platform in development at the University of Southern California, under the direction of the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture. All of the contributors have been concerned with investigating and addressing critical, conceptual, and creative questions at the heart of contemporary nonlinear storytelling in this formative era of the Web, while underlining connectivity and historical resonances with earlier media forms and texts.
A simple trick accounts for much of our success as a species: pattern recognition.
Confronted with complex interactions and wide-ranging inputs, we manage to sort through the clutter, emerging with dots that we can connect and actions we can take. Pattern recognition requires abstraction, distinguishing data from noise. But coherence has many forms, and only through demonstration does it stand as actionable argument.
Data visualization offers that demonstration. Over the centuries, it has served as the haiku of pattern recognition. Any particular visualization privileges specific parameters of experience, with data representing quantity, motion, duration, location, and so on. But the art – and success — of visualization turns on more than simply isolating data: the graphic rendering of that data carries the argument. As Edward Tufte and others have eloquently shown, the right data in the wrong form say little of importance. And as we can see through the long haul of history, getting it right has little to do with technology. The best arguments, it seems, are data-based stories of pattern recognition, whether inscribed on cave walls and strips of wood, or in digital animations and dynamic renderings.
Video is everywhere, like a space in which we move, an ocean we can dive into. But video is no longer the video we once knew. To address this techno-social shift, Andreas Treske sketches the outlines for a philosophical and practical understanding of online video, offering up a theory for the YouTube generation.
Video is examined up close and as a societal phenomenon. The images of a video constantly refer to other images, to the user and to the world outside. There is a ‘thickening of the image’. Videos also exist in relation to each other. On YouTube each video is accompanied by dozens of suggestions commercials and comments. Or consider TED-talks: every presentation refers to many others, all connected in a network and easily changing from one hype to the next.
Useful for comprehending this relational context is the philosophy of Peter Sloterdijk, who describes human society in terms of ‘spheres’. Online video can be understood as similar to bubble stuck to other bubbles, coming together to from foam within the connected sphere of the human environment.
Most prominent effects so far is video as a means of protest in the squares of the world, where revolution is filmed an uploaded in real time. Video isn’t a defined movie-object watched individually, but a movement of millions of video simultaneously, causing a cascade of reaction throughout the world.
At the Digital Documentary Audience symposium I was inspired by Mitchell Whitelaw‘s presentation amongst others. Somewhere in the mix of discussion the idea of a data documentary was raised.
From Mitchell’s talk which looked at “data as a material for practice” – I saw a data documentary as being designed in a similar manner to the way Mitchell was working with archives of visual material online using ‘data visualisation’ techniques. (I note on the idfaDOCLAB / MIT open documentary lab ‘Moments of Innovation’ website a section on data visualisation)
Other quotes and notes from Mitchell’s talk:
“Agency and literacy of doing things with data…”
“If culture = data”
“Data representations are made, not given” (here the idea is to provide representations of data that re read in different ways from different perspectives)
“Nonfiction practice of data visualisation”
How is the representation of data designed to be “revealing, complex, generative, and open-ended’?
The was also a focus on organising data beyond “hiding it behind a search box” – although there were also examples of combining indexing with searching.
The design has to consider how it will invite users to explore the content.
The notion of making senses or “sense making’ of the what is created is left to the imagination of the user. The user weaves the complexity together themselves – “work out how to entice people outwards into exploration…”
There was tendency to work from a “one screen interface” to maintain context.
“Intensify and densify the interface…”
http://visiblearchive.blogspot.com.au/ one of Mitchell’s projects.
Trove National Library of Australia online archive.
‘Mountains out of Molehill’ David McCandless
I really enjoyed Jeni Thornley’s energetic and illuminating presentation at the At Visible Evidence XIX international documentary conference at ANU, Canberra.
How the history of documentary intersects with other fields in relation to theorising documentary.
Thornley described the Internet as a “huge porous documentary text”.
Docshift – Toronto
‘Audiovisual thinking’ as a future forecast for the digital humanities
Jean Rouch Project
Book – Life After New Media By Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska
John Corner – postdocumentary
Labyrinth project online
Film Theory: An Introduction Through the Senses – Thomas Elsaesser, Malte Hagener
Gallery of ‘Lost Art’ – Tate
Jeni’s abstract and references:
Documentary, the database and the global archive of the internet: implications for teaching documentary film history
In this paper I explore some challenges that converging digital and online media provoke in teaching documentary film history. How do we contextualize such rapidly evolving media within the field of documentary? To what extent do we draw from other disciplines – art practice, new media theory and critical internet culture (Lovink 2017) to sustain a lively tradition of documentary studies. In this participatory, database era how do we re-figure the notion of ‘spectatorship’? [Rizzo 2008; Kinder 20ll; Pedulla 2072). What scholarship might assist teachers and students to think inter-textually, collaboratively and inter-culturally? (Ginsburg 2008; Deger 2006; Davis & Morton zA11) How do affect, embodiment and ethics play out? (Marks 1999; Renov 2009; Rutherford 2017). What is the relationship between the ‘body’(my body) and the database?
Rather than seek answers through specific case studies I navigate tracks through the internet, this vast documentary database, and experiment with relevant insights from earlier documentary film scholarship; and I keep an eye on my own subjectivity along the way. Renov(1993) proposed a poetics of documentary -’to submit aesthetic forms to rigorous investigation as to their composition, function, and effect’. Where, then, might a ‘poetics of the database’ and internet take us? Does Nichols’ (1988) ‘discourse of delirium’ [19?F) also offer a method, along with his essay on cybernetics and culture? This paper considers critical thinking that might contribute to the development of companion texts to MacDougall’s (1986) Film Teaching and Documentary and Renov’s Teaching Documentary Q077) in this era of the global archive of the internet.
Davis, T. & Morton, R. [2011), ‘Working in communities, connecting with culture’: Reflecting on U-matic to YouTube”, Screening the Past,31.
Deger, J. (2006) Shimmering Screens: making media in an Aboriginal community, Uni of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
Ginsburg, F. (2008) “Rethinking the Digital Age”, in The Media and Social Theory, NY, Routledge.
Kinder. M. [2011) ‘Re-orchestrating History, TransformingThe Danube Exodus into a Database
Documentary’, Cinema’s Alchemist: the Films of Pdter Forgcics, [ed) by B Nichols & M. Renov’ Uni
of Minnesota Press.
Lovink G. (2011) Networks Without a Cause: A Critique of Social Media, Cambridge, Polity.
MacDougall, D. [1998) “Film Teaching and Documentary”in Transcultural cinema’ Princeton UP’
Marks, L. (1999) The skin of the Film: Intercultural cinema, Embodiment, and the senses’ ts Duke
Nichols, B. [1994) Blurred Boundaries: Questions of Meani’ng in contemporary culture’ lndiana
Nichols, B. (1988) “The work of culture in the Age of cybernetic Systems”‘ screen 21:1′
Pedull), Gabriele (IOLZ) In Broad Daylight: Movies and Spectators After the Cinema’ NY’ Verso’
Renov, M. (1993) “Towards a Poetics of Documentary’,Theorizing Documentary’ NY’ Routledge’
Renov, M. [2011) “Teaching documentary: toward a goal-centered pedagogy of the
documentary film”, Signifcacao, 35.
Rizzo,T. [2008) “YouTube, The New cinema of Attractions” , scan: Journal of Media Arts Culture’
Rutherford, A. (2011) What Makes o Film Tick? Cinematic Affect, Materiality and Mimetic
Innervation, Bern, Peter Lang.
The MIT Open Documentary Lab brings technologists, storytellers, and scholars together to advance the new arts of documentary.
Drawing on MIT’s legacy of media innovation and its deep commitment to open and accessible information, the Open Documentary Lab is a place of generative dialogue between media makers, technologists, and scholars. By participating in Lab activities, visiting artists and aspiring media makers not only explore the potential of new technologies, they collaborate with MIT researchers to shape the storytelling practices of the future.
Defining documentary has never been easy, all the more because of different cultural traditions. The English-speaking world often looks back to the British documentarian John Grierson’s definition of the form as ‘the creative treatment of actuality’ — a useful phrase that he first used to describe Robert Flaherty’s Moana, but one that inadvertently wedded the documentary project to the linear narrative.
Other cultures have used other descriptors, embracing radically different types of filmmaking in their understanding of the documentary. Today’s interactive documentaries compel us to revisit our assumptions.
We take an expansive view of documentary, and are above all interested in the pas de deux between representation and technology, and the resulting capacity to see the world with new eyes.
We are interested in history, in connecting the dots between our latest endeavors and those conceptual pioneers and technological prototypes that came before them. We consider innovation both in the creative application of new technologies and in the creative impulse that lead documentarians to invent new technologies.
We are interested in continuities and disruptions, in tracking down origins and inspirations. Although our theme is evolutionary, we do not assume that recent instances are better than earlier ones – they are different, and our goal is to recall those earlier instances, to learn from and to celebrate them.
For these reasons, MIT’s Open Documentary Lab and IDFA’s DocLab have joined together to put the long story of documentary innovation into perspective, and to speculate about its future.
Mandy Roses’ collabdocs research project. About
My research looks at the intersection between documentary and the Social, Semantic and Open Web. I’m investigating the role of the producer as context provider, catalyst, curator in documentary projects. I’m interested in the social, political and creative potential of participatory and collaborative forms. I’m drawing inspiration and ideas for methodology from documentary and beyond.
It has been a busy summer moving house so just getting to the Digital Documentary Audience symposium I presented at in late December. The symposium was organised by Craig Hight and here is an excerpt from the overview:
The aim of this one-day symposium is to generate new research strategies and objectives prompted by intersections between the fields of audience research,documentary theory and digital theory.
Examples of discussion points could include:
• What are the implications for the documentary genre of a mediascape
dominated by corporations such as Google, Facebook and Apple, and the
increasing availability of online applications and other software?
• How can we define online documentary culture? What are its characteristics?
• How do specific digital platforms shape emerging ‘documentary’ practices?
• What tropes of existing documentary culture do online ‘practitioners’ choose
to appropriate and reproduce for their own creations, and how are their
political and aesthetic choices shaped by the tools they have access to?
• How do populations of online users search and filter, and assess and make
sense of media texts which generate, appropriate, and play with the
presentation of factual evidence?
• What kinds of research strategies are available to explore this proliferation of
online audio-video material?
• What research tools are most appropriate to investigating the factors shaping
user-generated content, and its reception and use? How do we reconfigure the
notion of ‘audience’?
• What are the possibilities for research approaches informed by both the
humanities and computer science?