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Studies in Documentary Film


Volume 6 Number 2 2012
I

Journal Editor
Deane Williams
Monash University
E-mail: deane.williams@arts.monash.edu.au
CONTENTS
Studies ill Documentary Film is a refereed scholarly journal devoted Editorial Assistant
to the history, theory, criticism and practice of documentary film. Sally Wilson
E-mail: sally.\·Vilson@arts.monash.edu.au
This journal will enable a considered approach to intema tional Editorial 203-214 Visual research and the new
documentary film history, theory, criticism and practice serving Associate Editors
documentary
a vibrant and growing international community of documentary Derek Page! 123-124 i-Docs special edition RODERICK COOVER
film scholars. Reading University
)UDITH ASTON, )ON DOVEY AND
The journal publishes articles and reviews, i n English, from Abe Mark Nornes SANDRA GAUDENZI 215-227 On politics and aesthetics:
researchers throughout the world seeking to broaden the field University of Michigan A case study of 'Public Secrets'
scholarship. Some of the topics proposed and 'Blood Su gar'

I
of documentary film Book Review Editor Articles
include; New approaches to documentary history; New devel­ Craig Hight
SHARON DANIEL
opments in documentary theory; New technologies in docu­ University of Waikato 125-139 Interactive documentary: 229-242 The case of Guernika, pintura
film
de Guerra, the first Catalan
mentary film; International trends in documentary practice; E-mail: hight@waikato.ac.nz setting the field
Formal innovation in documentary film modes; Intersections of Guest Editors )UDITH ASTON AND interactive documentary
documentary practice and theory; Critical accounts of national judith Aston SANDRA GAUDENZI project
141-157
documentary movements (particularly largely ignored cinemas); University of the West of England
Documentary's metamorphic ARNAU GIFREU CASTELLS
Documentary auteurs; Political documentary; Critical writing on E-mail: judith.aston@uwe.ac.uk
form: Webdoc, interactive,
ne\\' documentary films. )on Dovey Interview
transmedia, participatory and
Prospective guest editors may approach the editor with a University of the \•Vest of England
beyond
243-247
E-mail: jonathan.dovey<?tuwe.ac.uk
proposal for a themed issue or series. Prospective book reviewers A conversation on engagement,
SIOBHAN O'FLYNN
and pubLishers should approach the Reviews Editor directly. Sandra Gaudenzi authorship, interstitial spaces
Goldsmith's, University of London 159-173 We're happy and we know it: and documentary: Matt Adams, I'
E-mail: sgaudenziCi!.:yahoo.com
Documentary, data, montage twenty years of Blast Theory
Production Manager )ON DOVEY AND MANDY ROSE ANN DANYLKIW
Tim Mitchell 175-188 Locative voices and cities in
:'tudir� i11 Dllrummt.ll�l film i-; publi:;hed thn.•e time:; per year by Intellect,
Tiw r-.1i1!, r::.mall Road, BrbtoL BSlh 3JG, UK. The current subscription rates are This journal is abstracted and indexed by: crisis
Or./$hl\ (pnsunal) and £235/$3� (instituti<mal). Prices include UKfUS posta):ie. Thl.." MLA Intl.."rnational MARTIN RIESER
l'ka�t..· add (Y it nrdL·ring- within the EU and £12 elsL'\Nherc. Advertising enquiries Bibliography
sh<ould bt..· addrL'SSL'd t<>: markting\ilintdlectb<K>b.n>m International Index to Film Periodicals 189-202 'Walk-In Documentary':
oD 2012 lntdkx:t Ltd. Auth<>risati<m 1<1 phntncopy items l<•r internal ,,r personal use <>r New paradigms for game­
the inkmal or ['l'rsonal US<.' of sp<xific client'S is wanted by Intellect Ltd fur libraries based interactive storytelling
.JnJ <lth,•r us...•r;; Tt..'�sh:rcd \vith thl' G >p)-right Licensing Agenq· (CLA) in the UK ur
lht..· Copyright Ocaranct..• Ct•nt<..'T (CCCJ Transactional Reporting- Service in the USA
pr<•\ided that thl' basl' fet• is paid directly tn the relevant •'rganbati;m.
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and experiential conflict
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-.lscag FSO' C020822 KERRIC HARVEY
I 'rintl:J and b,>und in Great Britain by 4edgc, UK

Q intellect JOurnals ISSN 1750-3280

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I I
SDF 6 (2) pp.123-124 Intellect limited 2012

Studies in Documentary Film


Volume 6 N um ber 2
© 2012 I ntellect ltd Editorial. English l anguage. doi: 10.1386/sdf.6.2.123_2

EDITORIAL

JUDITH ASTON
)ON DOVEY
SANDRA GAUDENZI
Catalan journal of
Communication & Cultural Studies
ISSN: 17571898! Online 15SN: 17571901
2 issues per volume] Volumes, 2013
i-Docs special edition

This special edition presents a collection of articles that came out of i-Does
Aims and Scope Editor 2011, the first international symposium exclusively devoted to the rapidly
The Catalan journal of Communication & Cultural Studies (CJCS) is an acad emic EnricCastel l 6 evolving field of interactive documentary-making. The symposium was held
journal co mmitted to publish ing peer-reviewed works on m ed ia, cultural stud ies Rovira i Virgili University at the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol, on behalf of the University of the
and co mmunication. Thejournal pays partic ular attention to the Catalan media
West of England's Digital Cultures Research Centre. Its aim was to showcase
and cultural systems although it is open to other national and cultural contexts. Associate Editors
recent projects and discuss the artistic, economic and political implications of
josetxo Cerdan
Call for papers new forms of factual representation. The articles, case studies and interview in
Rovira i Virgi!i University
CJCS's approach is m ultid iscip!inary and encourages articles by schol ars, this edition represent the range of themes and debates that were raised and
researchers and professionals working o n the following issues among oth ers: jordi Farre can be seen as a unique snapshot of a complex and diverse field of study that
Rovira i Virgili U niversity is in its early stages of development.
Media and comm unication h istory
Whenever we try to understand the impact of the digital world on mediation
Media and cultural policies
Hugh O'Donnell and culture, we begin by trying to distinguish between the genuinely novel
Audience and reception studies Glasgow Caledonian University and the continuing traditions of media cultures. Our specific interest in this
Cul tural and national identities project has been in seeking the continuation of a shared idea of 'documenta­
Media discourses and representations All com munications to: riness' in the miasma of factuality, data and information circulating through
catalan.jovrnal@urv.cat
Language and l anguage uses the ecosystems of digital media. This is a deliberately ambiguous mission.
The cultural impact of new media Emergent fields always elicit competing attempts to define and taxonomize, to

Sports, identity and media make manifestos and stake territorial claims. Whilst the sense of discovery is a
motivating force in much of the material in this special edition, we have sought
Tourism, h eritage and co mmunication
to keep the space open. Of course we need to develop some useful discursive
will help us to speak in commensurate critical tongues - but
Public relations and political comm unication
protocols that
Gender Stud ies we also want to shape the field as an inclusive and dynamic conversation. The
speed of platform development alongside the force of aesthetic endeavours

I ntellect is an independent academic publisher of books and journals, to view our catalogue or order our titles visit
www.intellectbooks.com o r E-mail: journals@intell ectbooks.com. Intellect, The Mil l , Parnall Road, Fishponds, Bristol , UK, BS16 3JG.
l23
judith Aston 1 ]on Oovey 1 Sandra Gaudenzi SDF 6 (2) pp.125-�39 Intellect Limited 2012

to wrestle reality into documentary form ensure that i-docs are moving all Studies in Documentary Film
the time. So we include considerations of the linear and the database formal Volume 6 Number 2
arrangements of documentary material, and the debates around authorship © 20nlntellect Ltd Article. English l anguage. d oi: 10.1386/sdf.6.2.125_1
and collaboration, navigation and discovery, which rehearse the grounds of
hypertext theory as applied to documentary materials.
However, we also include audio, immersive and mixed reality projects that
use actuality, reportage, oral history and poetry to open up whole new terrains
for documentary away from the histories of visual screen practices. Theatre,
cinema, television assume certain things about their audience; you will be
sitting in a seat, more or less silently, quite probably in the dark, attending
to the experience as it unfolds. In the developing arena of Pervasive Media,
participants are often not in the theatre or the sitting room. Instead, they are
out in the world, moving in and out of buildings, following a-route, maldng
a journey; their sensorium open to a whole range of stimuli competing for
their attention. In these instances, designers are required to make work that JU DITH ASTON
can respond fluidly to a constantly shifting context, a work that is defined by University of the West of England
people's actions. The environment is less controllable, already a mise-en-s&ne
populated by the demands of everyday life. This approach to i-docs puts audi­
SANORA GAUDENZI
ences into the midst of a relational signification system where their actions Un iversity of the Arts London
shape the experience. In so doing, it promises to move documentary stud­
ies from its obsession with representation to a wider focus on documentary
systems. From questions of what does documentary mean to questions of
what does documentruy do?

5 November 2012
Interactive docu mentary:
judith Aston, )on Dovey and Sandra Gaudenzi have asserted their right under
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the authors
setti ng the field
of this work in the format that was submitted to Intellect Ltd.

ABSTRACT KEYWORDS
This article articulates the authors' combined vision behind convening i-Docs, the interactive
first international symposia to focus exclusively on the rapidly evolving field of inter­ documentary
active doCumentary. In so doing, it provides a case study of practice-driven research, constructing reality
in which discussion around the act of developing and making interactive documen­ authorship
taries is seen as being a necessary prerequisite to subsequent theorizing in relation to agency
their impact on the continuing evolution of the documentary genre. As an essentially enactive knowledge
interdisciplinary fonn of practice, the article prooides a conceptual overoiew of what collaboration
interactive documentaries (i-docs) are, where they come from and wluzt they could activism
become. The case is made that i-docs should not be seen as the uneventful evolution ethics
of documentaries in the digital realm but rather as a fonn of nonfiction narrative
that uses action and choice, immersion and enacted perception as ways to construct
the real rather than to represent it. The relationship between authorship and agency
:
wzthzn 1-docs zs also conszdered as bemg central to our understanding of possibilities
within a rapidly evolving field of study.

THE CONCEPTUAL EVOLUTION OF THE I·DOCS GENRE


In order to begin the discussion, a definition of i-docs is needed. The position
taken in this article is that any project that starts with an intention to document
the 'real' and that uses digital interactive technology to realize this intention

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j udith Aston 1 Sandra Gaudenzi
Interactive documentary

1. The reasons for such can be considered an interactive documentary.1 This is a deliberately broad 2. The Hypertext mode
a broad definition of
i-docs are explained
definition of i-docs, which is platform agnostic. Whilst it is in part attuned One of the first digital artefacts to be officially called an interactive docume
by Gaudenzi to Galloway et al.'s definition of interactive documentary as 'any documen­ ntary
was Moss Landing (Apple Multimedia Lab, 1989). During one day
her interactive tary that uses interactivity as a core part of its delivery mechanism' (2007: several
documentary entry cameras recorded the life of the inhabitants of Moss Landing's Harbou
330-31), the definition provided here recognizes the fact that interactivity in r. Those
of The johns Hopkins assets where then organized as a closed database of video clips that
Guide to Digital i-does often goes beyond a 'delivery mechanism' to incorporate processes of the user
could browse via a video hyperlink interface. This logic of hypertex
Media and Textuality production. In addition to this, most of the current literature (Gifreu 2011; t documen­
(forthcoming). tary has later been applied to CD-ROMs (such as Immemory by Marker,
Crou 2010; Hudson 2008) confines i-docs to web-does (documentanes that 1997)
and DVDs (such as Bleeding Through the Layers of Los Angeles by Klein,
2. Draft version of all the use the World Wide Web as a distribution and content production platform) 2003).
chapters available at Currently a multitude of projects that follow the same logic of
but the i-Docs symposia have expanded the definition to include any digital 'click here
httpJ/www.interactive and go there' are being produced for the Web; those are often referred
documentary.net/ platform that allows interactivity (such as Web, DVD, mobiles, GPS devices to
as web-does. Inside The Haiti Earthquake (Gibson and McKenna, 2011),
about/me/
and gallery installation). As such, interactivity is seen as a means through Out
My Window (Cizek, 2010), Journey to the End of Coal (Bollend
which the viewer is positioned within the artefact itself, demanding him, or orff, 2009) and
Forgotten Flags (Thalhofer, 2007) are just a few example
her, to play an active ·role in the negotiation of the 'reality' being conveyed s of this style of inter­
active documentary. This type of i-doc lends itself to the Hyperte
through the i-doc. This view of interactivity requires a physical action to take xt mode
because it links assets within a closed video archive and gives
place between the user/participant and the digital artefact. It involves a human the user an
exploratory role, normally enacted by clicking on pre-existing options.
computer interface, going beyond the act of interpretation to create feedback
loops with the digital system itself.
A brief historical overview of how the evolution of digital technology has 3. The Participative mode
allowed the emergence of different types of i-docs demonstrates that a variety The advent of Web 2.0 has, however, allowed people to go further than
of i-doc gentes is already established, and that each of them uses technology to browsing through content: the affordances of the media have made possible
create a different interactive bond between reality, the user and the artefact. As a two-way relationship between digital authors and their users. Although in
yet, there is no formal consensus on how to classify i-docs- with Gifreu (2011) the late 1990s the MIT Interactive Cinema Group, led by Gloriana Davenport,
and Galloway et al. (2007) having already proposed their own suggestions. tried to develop 'Evolving documentaries' where 'materials grow as the story
This article builds on the taxonomy proposed by Gaudenzi in Chapter 1 of her evolves' (Davenport and Murtaugh, 1995: 6), it was only after 2005, when the
Ph.D. (forthcoming).' Her approach is to analyse i-docs through their interactive
logic, rather than through the digital platform that they use, their topic or their
penetration of broadband in western countries reached a critical mass, that I
interactive documentary producers started exploring ways to actively involve
message. She draws upon some key understandings of interactivity and argues, their users within the production of their digital artefact. In what is often
similarly to Lister et al. in New Media: A Critical Introduction (2003), that different referred to as collab-docs, or participatory-does, the documentary producer 'is
understandings of interactivity have led to different types of digital artefacts. called upon to 'stage a conversation', with a user community, with research
By selecting four dominant understandings of interactivity- as a conversa­ subjects, with participants, eo-producers and audiences' (Dovey and Rose,
tion with the computer (Lippman, in Brand 1988: 46), as linking within a text forthcoming 2013). In other words, in participative documentaries the user
(Aarseth 1994:60), as interactive computation in physical space (Eberbach et al. can be involved during the production process- by for example editing online
2004 : 173) or as participation in an evolving database (Davenport and Murtaugh (see RiP: a Remix Manifesto, Gaylor, 2004-2009) or shooting in the streets (see
1995: 6) - Gaudenzi proposes four interactive modes: the conversational, the 18 Days in Egypt, Mehta and Elayat, 2011)- or during the launch and distri­
hypertext, the experiential and the participative. These modes were used as a bution process (e.g. by answering questions online, like in 6 Billion Others
starting point from which to discuss our approach to the i-Docs symposia, out (Arthus-Bertrand, 2009), or by sending material and helping translating it as
of which further debates and ongoing discussions have emerged. in the Global Lives Project (Harris, 2010). This type of i-doc is described here
as being Participative, as it counts on the participation of the user to create an j
j:l
The conversational mode
open and evolving database.
�-

The Aspen Movie Map (Lippman, 1978) is often referred to as the first attempt
to digitally document an experience. By using videodisc technology, and three 4. The Experiential mode
screens, the user was able to drive through a video reconstruction of the city Finally, mobile media and The Global Positioning System (GPS) have brought
of Aspen. The use of digital technology to simulate a world where the user digital content into physical space. 34 North 118 West (Bight, Knowlton and
has the illusion of navigating freely has also been used in video games, MUDs Spellman, 2001), allowed people to walk in the streets of Los Angeles armed
and sandbox games, so it is with no surprise that journalists, and new media with a Tablet PC, a GPS card and headphones. Depending on the position
artists, have been inspired to create 'factual games', or 'docu-games', such as of the participant, stories uncovering th_e early industrial era of Los Angeles
Gone Gitmo (Pef\a, 2007) or Americas Anny (Wardynski, 2002). This type of were whispered into the ears of the urban flaneur, accompanied by historic
i-doc, which uses 3D worlds to create an apparently seamless interaction with illustrations on the computer screen. In 2007 Blast Theory created Rider Spoke
the user, lends itself to the Conversational mode because it positions the user (Adarns, 2007), a bicycle ride where people could record very personal answers
as if 'in conversation' with the computer. via the use of a mobile device (Nokia N800) mounted on the handiebar of their

126
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Judith Aston 1 Sandra Gaudenzi
Interactive documentary

3. Aston began her career bicycle. Those testimonies were then made accessible to any other participant (Mcmahon, 2009) and Mapping Main Street (Oehler, Heppermann, Shapins 4. Where Aston has
working with the BBC
passing in the area where the message was first recorded. This type of locative and Burns, 2009-ongoing). Finally, a range of independent productions were been developing
Interactive Television teaching and
unit in the mid-l98os documentary invites the participant to experience a 'hybrid space' (De Souza emerging: projects such as the French Breve de Trottoirs (Lambert and Salva, research programmes
and then went on to e Silva 2006: 262) where the distinction between the virtual and the physical 2010), pervasive games such as Blast Theory's Rider Spoke (Adams, 2007), and in interactive
study for a Ph.D. in documentary since the
interaction design becomes blurred. I -does of this nature tend to play on our enacted perception university research projects such as Gone Gihno (Pefia, 2007).
mid-1990s.
and cross-cultural while moving in space. As the participant moves through an interface that is Given this observation, it seemed a logical next step to create a commu­
communication at physical (although enhanced by the digital device) embodiment and situated
the Royal College of
nity of like-minded people by organizing a conference on the subject. Whilst
Art (2003). Gaudenzi knowledge are constantly elaborating new situated meanings. This category is there were new media awards attached to larger documentary festivals, there
worked for ten years in named as being Experiential because it brings users into physical space, and were no events dedicated to interactive documentary. The focus of the i-Does
television production
creates an experience that challenges their senses and their enacted percep­ symposia was not to be about debating the merits of linear versus interac­
before doing an MA
in interactive media tion of the world. tive formats, but more about understanding the new opportunities that were
at the London College
being opened up by the development of interactive technologies within
of Communication,
which lead her to WHY ARE SUCH MODES IMPORTANT? a twenty-first century context. At the heart of our combined interest in the
teach there. She then field was a fundamental belief in the human need to try to make sense of
started a Ph.D. on the Since each interactive mode creates a different dynamic with the user, the
the world around us, using whatever toolS are to hand, and in the role of
topic of interactive author, the artefact and its context, the argument presented here is that each
documentaries at narrative and storytelling in that process. In accepting the idea that, in our
one can be seen as affording a different construction of 'reality'. While experi­
Goldsmiths that is, at contemporary times, digital media plays an important part in shaping culture,
the time of writing. in ential i-does can add layers to the felt perception of reality, to create an embod­
its completion stages. and in influencing the ways in which we relate to the world, our aim was to
ied experience for the participants, conversational i-docs can use 3D worlds to
explore how interactive technologies might offer new ways to help us both to
recreate scenarios, therefore playing with options of reality. Participative i-docs
understand the world and to shape it. The Digital Cultures Research Centre
allow people to have a voice and to participate in the construction of reality,
at the University of the West of England4 agreed to host the conference and
while hypertext i-docs can construct multiple pathways through a set 'reality'
fifteen months later in March 2011 the world's first symposium dedicated to
to provide a range of perspectives on a common set of themes or issues. In this
the interactive documentary genre was held.
sense, each form of i-doc seems to :r:egotiate reality far beyond Stella Bruzzi's
vision of documentaries as 'performative acts whose truth comes into being
only at the moment of filming' (2000:7) because the 'moment of truth' is now CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE PANELS AND
also placed into the actions and decisions of the user/participant. We see this KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
way of thinking about i-docs as offering a tool as much for the eo-creation of
Our Call for Papers for i-Docs 2011 was deliberately broad, to accommo­
reality as for its representation. This is a position that has led us into placing
date a range of approaches to i-docs and stimulate debate around the full
debates around the relationship between authorship and agency within i-docs
range of possibilities. Given her background in anthropology and inter­
at the centre of our discussions.
cultural communication, Aston in particular wanted to make sure that there
was space to push at the edges of taxonomies, and that consideration of
THE FIRST I·DOCS SYMPOSIUM AND ITS TIMELINESS authorship, intent and purpose remained central to the discussions. This was
First meeting in London at the Documentary Now! conference in January based on her belief that the most interesting work in i-docs often arises when
2009, we found common ground in having worked within the field of inter­ gerue is transcended and boundaries are blurred. Our two different starting
active documentaries for a number of years, both in the emergent industry points in relation to the analysis of i-does created a strong dynamic for discus­
and through Ph.D. study.' We noted that over the previous two years there sion, through which we created our structure for the first two symposia. The
had been a real explosion of productions in the field. Big productions such as common ground that we kept returning to was our belief that the analysis of
I-Iighrise (Ozek, 2009-ongoing) from the NFB, had been launched, and the i-docs should be seen as an open and interdisciplinary process within a field
television company Arte had created a portal at http://webdocs.arte.tv/ which of endeavour that is necessarily fluid, dynamic and in constant flux.
hosted a variety of projects, from the recent New York Minute (Rochet and Based on our discussions around modes of interaction, authorship and
Venancio, 2010) and Prison Valley (Dufresne and Brault, 2010) to a whole series agency within i-does, we decided that the panels and keynote speakers would
of twelve web-documentaries dedicated to the 50 years of independence of be organized around four main themes. These were: participation and eo­
Africa. French television France 5 had also produced 24 web-docwnentaries, collaboration; cross-platform and transmedia production; locative, perva­
part of a series called Portraits d'un Nouveau Monde!Portraits of a New World sive and game logics; non-linear strategies and database-driven documen­
(Hamelin, 2010). taries. In addition to this, we convened two additional sub-panels around
These were big projects produced for mainstream audiences leading to conceptual approaches to i-docs and the relationship between archives and
our conclusion that i-docs were no longer a niche form. Whilst the National memory in the creation of i-docs. In t�rms of establishing the field and rais­
Film Board of Canada had also invested in an impressive portal of interac­ ing awareness of the current state of play with i-docs, we felt that this was
tive documentaries - of which Highrise and Out My Window, from Kat Cizek, a good reflection of the state of play and that it would stimulate discussion
are probably the most well known - but there were also others such as Welcome around a wide range of work and issues. Discussion around taxonomies was
to Pine Point (Sirnons and Shoebridge, 2011), GDP (Choquette, 2009-10), Waterlife included in the Call for Papers with the deliberate intention to test Gaudenzi's

128
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judith Aston] Sandra Gaudenzi Interactive docu mentary

s. www.watershed.eo.uk/ proposed modes. In an emergent field such as that of interactive documen­ film clips from across the Israeli/Palestinian divide recorded over a set period
tary it seemed appropriate to involve the early adapters of the genre (both of time. The viewer is offered various ways to engage with these recordings,
6. www.pmstudio.co.uk
practitioners and academics) in mapping the field. In the same way that user­ through a timeline, through a map or through a thematic approach. This
7. httpJfWww.dcrc.org. represents a significant development on from Manovich's work on spatial
testing is needed in interactive design, it was felt that peer approval was
uk/projects/fluid-
i nterfaces-narrative­ essential to accurately map such a participatory field. montage (2001), in that it moves beyond his interest in random juxtaposition
exploration# From the range of proposals that were submitted, it soon became clear to create a more authored and cohesive approach, out of which documentary
that the themes that we had set for the symposium did indeed reflect a shared meaning can be generated.
understanding of emergent genres and debates. Given that the first of these In addition to this, both projects offer a limited degree of user participation,
themes related to documentary intent, whereas the other themes were more with Gaza Sderot encouraging discussion of issues raised through an integrated
focused on structural approaches to i-docs, we began the day with the partici­ forum and Prison Valley going a step further by inviting users to send messages
pation and eo-collaboration panel. The symposium was a one-day event, held to the subjects of the film, thus breaking the conventional border between film­
at the Watershed Media Centre5 in central Bristol, with a follow-up discussion makers (observers) and subjects (observed). Given that Prison Valley is a more
in the Pervasive Media Studid on the next day, around where to take it next. recent production than Gaza Sderot, Brachet was asked if his work is gradu­
The event was very well attended and had a strong international flavour, with ally moving towards facilitating a greater degree of participation in i-docs. His
many of the delegates commenting on how it had offered a condensed and response was that each of his i-docs projects has its own integrity and that
clearly defined snapshot of an exciting new field of practice and study. participation arotmd an i-doc can be just as valid as participation within an
i-doc. This became an important theme, which re-surfaced on several occa­
sions over the course of the day and is one which is central to our own ongo­
KEY ISSUES AND DEBATES RAISED BY THE SYMPOSIUM ing discussions around different modes of interactivity within i-docs.
What follows is our interpretation of the key themes that emerged from that As Multiplatform Commissioner for the BBC, Nick Cohen focused on
first symposium, followed by a discussion of how these themes led into the his insights into transmedia storytelling gained from his work at the BBC
planning for the second symposium. The key themes that are discussed relate as multiplatform commissioner for factual and art programmes. Working
to the ethics and nature of participation, whether encouraging participation his way through a number of recent projects, he described his intentions to
was an innately good thing, discussion around transmedia storytelling and move audiences away from observing the world through the knowing eyes
multiplatform production, questions around the imperative to categorize a of the progranune-maker towards a logic of gaining understanding through
fluid field of study, and discussion on the place for authorial communication more active forms of involvement and participation. For him, a strong trans­
in i-docs where the inter-actant becomes an active agent in the construction media concept needed to be platform neutral, with such projects benefiting
of the documentary 'reality'. These themes are discussed below with particu­ greatly from a single creative lead across the different platforms. Encouraging
lar reference to our own views on i-does and to the issues raised by the four people to participate was still a major challenge for institutions such as the
keynote speakers, whom we selected to reflect the range of debates that we BBC who need to create strong motivational drivers, such as tapping into
wanted to stimulate. peoples' emotions, offering them some form of personal gain, the oppor­
As CEO and Interactive Producer for Upian, Alexandre's Brachet's pres­ tunity for self-expression and recognition or appealing to the greater good.
entation focused on two of his company's seminal web-based projects- Gaza He referred to the 90-9-1 principle, as cited by Jacob Nielson (2006), which
Sderot (2008) and Prison Valley (2010). Both of these projects combine authored 1%
suggests that there is a participation inequality on the Internet with only
narrative with a fluid and intuitive interface to create a meaningful and engag­ of people creating content, 9% editing or modifying that content, and 90%
ing experience for the user. This represents a real step on from many of the viewing content without actively contributing.
problems around the stop start nature of the point and click style interfaces of Cohen's intervention was important in showing how much broadcasters
earlier hypertext-based works. As part of his presentation, Brachet was keen are very much aware of changes in consumption patterns of their younger
to point out that good interaction design is integral to the successful delivery audiences. It is not true that the born digital watch less television than their
of content and to the creation of meaning. In this sense, finding a common older generation, it is just that they watch their favourite programmes on
language to connect computer programmers with designers and producers demand and on their computer rather than on a television set. In order to keep
remains one of the key challenges for i-docs production. If design is part of their audience tuned in, broadcasters are increasingly commissioning multi­
the content, then the authorship of an i-�oc does need to include the design­ platform projects, in which a television programme has an interactive coun­
ers as part of the editorial process. terpart. This is making broadcasters one of the major transmedia producers
Gaza Sderot was of particular interest to Aston, given her work around the of the market. This view of transmedia production contrasted with an earlier
development of fluid interfaces for narrative exploration', developed through comment made by Brachet, who stated that his projects were created first and
her ongoing collaboration with the Oxford anthropologist, Wendy Jarnes foremost for the web. Whilst many of them existed across a range of differ­
(As ton 2010). What makes Gaza Sderot so successful for her is that it negotiates ent platforms, for Brachet a good wel?-doc would always be conceived first
a happy medium between temporal narrative and spatial juxtaposition, with and foremost for that medium. This raised an important point about transme­
the fluid interface playing an important role in conveying meaning through dia production, as to whether one platform would always drive the others or
its ordering and presentation of video segments. This is achieved by using a whether a genuinely equal relationship could be established in terms of the
split screen technique, by which the user can compare and contrast a series of content being conveyed across the different platforms.

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judith Aston I Sandra Gaudenzi Interactive documentary

Transmedia storytelling and changing habits of audience engagement Florian Thalhofer's description of his difficult experience in editing his first
is linked to the wider issue of convergence and changing media literacies. linear fibn Planet Galata (2011) for Arte television, raised issues relating to
As digital technologies are evolving, we are witnessing the development the affordances of both the linear and non-linear form. As the inventor of
of a widespread assumption that consumers of media content are gradu­ Korsakow (an authoring tool for interactive video), he claimed that 'the fibn'
ally becoming more active participants in the creation and interpretation of (the linear Planet Galata) made him lie. He used humour and provocation to
content. However, it is our view that this assumption is not a foregone conclu­ explain how the Artistotelian narrative form- with its need of a beginning, a
sion and that, authorial communication is not necessarily being replaced by a complication, a middle and a resolution at the end- "forced' him to construct
logic of shared participation. We believe that it is more fruitful to envisage a a story that was not fitting with his real life experience. Contrary to the argu­
creative tension between these two imperatives, with each i-doe taking an ment that most documentary makers have about the use of interactivity in
approach to authorship and participation which is appropriate to its aims and documentaries - that the lack of authorial voice ultimately leads to a multi­
intentions. In addition to this, authorship should be seen as something that tude of meaningless stories - Thalhofer argued that interactivity can set up
can exist on several levels, from the more traditional approach of the author scenarios whilst at the same time freeing the author from forcing a point of
as subject expert,. through the author taking on a more curatorial approach, to view onto his audience.
the authorship being genuinely distributed through a user generated process. 1-docs certainly do afford new ways to present multiple points of view­
As eo-founder of Blast Theory, Matt Adam's deliberately positioned Blast whether from the perspective of a single authorial voice or from the perspec­
Theory as "just a bunch of artists'. This was in keeping with our observation tive of a community of authors working collaboratively around a common
that many of the works that could put into the i -does basket are not called as theme - and they can be used to present contested points of view, allow­
such by their creators. This may be partly because the term is not well estab­ ing users to come to their own conclusions. Aston takes the position in her
lished enough, but it is also linked to the fact that the creators often come own work that, whilst this is still achievable within documentary films, i-docs
from other worlds than the documentary one (as artists, game designers, new can offer more scope for in-depth engagement with a set of complex ideas
media producers and so forth). For such new media authors the use of video, through the presentation of multiple entry points and simultaneous storylines.
and of a traditional narrative struchrre, might not be essential at all to medi­ lhis is an area that she has been concerned with for a number of years, given
ate reality. If what is asked of documentary is to present an authorial point of her ongoing engagement with ethnographic archives and multilayered narra­
view, then the link with a longer tradition of documentary making is clear. tive (Aston 2008). For her, authorial intent remains central to these debates,
However, digital and participatory media are also affording new goals, one with some i-does adopting a linear and didactic approach to their storytelling,
of which is to position the audience "in the place of' a character- and there­ and some documentary films doing everything they can to create more open­
fore finding meaning in a 'what would I do if logic- rather than 'this is what ended and non-linear forms of storytelling.
has happened'. In this new logic, a pervasive game experience (such as Rider Aside from the issues raised by the four keynote presentations, a series
Spoke), or a locative art project (such as Wrike and Eamon Compliant) is not of other important contributions were made by the panel presenters of the
even aiming to represent reality because it is creating real-time lived experi­ day. Although it would be impossible to give justice to the richness of the
ences that bring the participant in a position of spatial and personal discovery. debate, here are a few points and contributions that are relevant to the ongo­
This links back to a core theme within this article that i-docs offer new ways ing debates among the i-docs community that were established through the
not only to represent reality but also to construct it. 2011 symposium:
In a world where it is understood that reality and perception are subjective
terms, a valid approach to i-docs is to focus more on our ethical choices than on • A taxonomy of i-docs is very much needed, as it is the only way to avoid
illusory objective facts. As Adams explained, Blast Theory's work plays with the confusion when speaking of emergent genres within the i-docs family.
blurred distinction between the real, the fictional and the imaginary. His claim Peter Dukes (Westminster University), Sandra Gaudenzi (Goldsmiths)
is that, since universal 'truth' does not exist, it is our position in relation to the and Arnau Gifreu (Universitat de Vie) have different propositions and are
truth that matters. Blast Theory's work elegantly leads users/partci ipants to those continuing the academic debate on this subject.
moments of choice- that will effectively say more about themselves than about • The array of participatory projects presented at i-Docs reinforced the feel­
the world around us. As such, the role of immersion and play as effective tools for ing that both transmedia and collaborative documentary are very current
creating dialogue around ethical questions is a key area for further development. themes. Siobhan O'Flynn (Toronto) gave a concise overview of the key
Blast Theory's work illustrates hmy participants can engage in an active issues within her presentation and Kerric Harvey (Washington) raised
experience, which is embodied and which evolves through a dynamic interac­ important questions about the ethical consequences of user collabora­
tive process. The idea that enacted perception- as opposed to an interpretation tion in documentaries. The point was made that it is necessary to consider
of a pre-authored version of reali ty- can be at the centre of the documentary both who is held responsible for the content of a collaborative i-doc and to
experience is one of the aspects which is new and exciting about i -does and also clarif}r what participation really means and what are its limits in terms
which is elucidated upon in Gaudenzi's writing arotmd the relational object of the documentary genre. .
that adapts to its environment and transforms itself while changing its envi­ • In opposition to this current trend, the question was asked by Rod Coover
ronment too (Gaudenzi 2011). In this sense, pervasive and immersive games (Pennysylvania) as to whether there is a place for long-form scholarly texts
should not be seen as being superficial forms of entertainment, but rather as in i-docs, in which users are invited to enter into a pre-authored world,
offering new ways to position ourselves within nonfiction stories. which combines spatial exploration with narrative organisation to deliver

l32
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judith Aston I Sandra Gaudenzi Interactive documentary

a sustained argument through non-linear means? If so, is it legitimate for The second symposium, held in March 2012, adopted a fluid form to respond 8. The programme and
to these questions, with a mixture of panels, workshops, labs and feed-back speaker details for both
these texts to have a single authorial voice or should they always present i-Docs 2on and i-Docs
their ideas through a multitude of voices? sessions providing the right setting to generate in depth and critical debate. 2012 can be found on
• Given that i-docs need to create meaning, questions were asked around To facilitate these debates, the symposium was set up both to look forwards the i-docs web-hub,
along with an evolving
the role of user testing in the design and development of i-docs, and at at emerging possibilities and to look backwards at ongoing concerns within series of blog posts in
what stage in the development process is user testing most appropriate. Is the wider field of documentary endeavour. Central to this approach was our relation to the ongoing
user testing more appropriate to some types of i-doc than others and how belief in the value of establishing an arena for constructive debate based on development of the
genre: httpl/i-docs.org/
important is it to create pleasurable and engaging interfaces? These ques­ the principle of grounded research. This research is practice-led and predi­
tions led to a somewhat heated debate around the purpose of an i-doc cated on the establishment of a community, through which core theoretical
and whether or not artistic expression is a valid form of enquiry within concerns and their connection to a longer history of documentary making can
the genre. Rod Coover (Pennysylvania) presented the view of the indi­ begin to be identified within an interdisciplinary context. Whilst it is beyond
vidual artist, whereas Matt Adarns saw his role as an artist as being very the scope of this article to discuss the outcomes of this second symposium,
much part of a collaborative and iterative process involving feedback from space was specifically provided for reflection on the place of i-docs within a il
participants. wider continuum of documentary making. 8 I

I
• User generated content has emerged as particularly powerful when paired
with social and activist causes. By transforming watchers into users, and
then users into doers, the combination of a shared cause and social media CONCLUSION
is very effective. Could this mean that i-docs might become a new form of It is important to us that the community that has sprung up around the
activism, where information and action can finally meet? Sharon Daniel i-Docs symposia remains open to new technologies and ideas, whilst at
(Santa Cruz) provided a moving example of this, describing herself as a the same time recognizing strong areas of continuity with the wider tradi­
context provider who works with communities, collecting their stories, tion of documentary making. Our view is that interactive media creates a
soliciting their opinions, and building online archives to make this data dynamic relationship between authors, users, technology and environment
available across social, cultural and economic boundaries. that allows for fluidity, emergence and eo-emergence of reality. One of the
things that we find to be new and exciting new about i-docs is the relations
of interdependence that they create between the user and the reality that
CONCEPTUAL APPROACH TO THE SECOND I·DOCS SYMPOSIUM they portray. Feed-back loops that are not possible in linear narrative
The interest generated by the first symposium, and the discussion that ensued can give the opportunity both to participants and to the artefact to re­
from it suggested that i-does are flourishing and here to stay - even if they define themselves and to change. Where this is the case, it is through
might be given other names such as web-does, collab-docs, trans-media does, enacted engagement with the artefact that the reality being portrayed
cross-media does, database does and hypertext does. As the convenors of the comes into being. At the same time, it is also important to consider where
i-Docs symposia, it was no longer necessary for us to proclaim that interactive the authorship lies in an i-doc and to recognize the fact that some i-docs are
documentary exists as a genre, since this is now a given. Instead, the ongoing developed through a more collaborative process than others. Whilst contem­
aim became to provide a space where new trends can be explored, concerns porary debate around i-docs does seem to be focused on user generated
can be debated and critical questions can be shared. It was with this view in content and participatory processes, we want to position these approaches
mind that four main questions were established as starting points for debate alongside equivalent discussion of the role of expert knowledge and more
at i-Docs 2012. These were questions that came directly from the issues that artistic forms of expression within i-docs.
emerged at i-Docs 2011 and from our own knowledge of the sector. We were I-does that follow a hypertext, a participative, an experiential or a conver­
also keen to make sure that the multitude of authoring and content manage­ sational logic will vary in terms of their look and feet but also in terms of
ment tools have emerged in the last two years (Klynt, Popcorn, W3Doc, Zeega their political impact. Whereas hypertext i -does offer new ways to access and
to state a few), were represented at i-Docs 2012. Our aim was to establish a engage with a pre-authored set of ideas and arguments, collaborative i-docs
set of ongoing conversations between the authors of these tools and with the can fundamentally question the role we want to have in society to give us active
practitioners that are using the various tools to make i-docs. choices that can re-define who we want to be. Locative i-does, on the other
The four central questions for i-Does �012 were: hand, can add layers to the felt perception of reality by transforming the user
into an embodied enactor, while conversational i-docs can be good at placing
1. User participation in i-docs: how can the act of participating change the the participant in front of hypothetical ethical choices. These are just some
meaning of an i-doc and what is the role of authorship in this process? of the distinctions that we can already see in the burgeoning family of i-docs
2. Layered experience, augmented reality games and pervasive media: are and that the i-Docs symposia have been able to highlight. No doubt, many
locative i-does changing our notion of physical experience and space? more forms will emerge in the coming years to challenge our views of partic­
3. Activism and ethics: how can i-docs be used to develop new strategies for ipation by creating new opportunities to negotiate and eo-create reality. In
activism? these times of constant flux, it is hoped that i-Docs will remain the place to
4 . Open source and the semantic web: how are tagging video, HTMLS and debate, ponder and anticipate where the tides are bringing us and how to
the semantic web opening up new routes for i-docs? navigate the waves.

1
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Mehta, Jigar and Elayat, Jasmin (2011), #18 Days in Egypt, cross-platform totally dedicated to interactive documentaries, held in Bristol in 2011 and
documentary, Stanford: Knight Fellowship, http://www.18daysinegypt. 2012. She is currently finishing her Ph.D. - 'The living documentary: from
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SUGGESTED CITATION
Aston, ). and Gaudenzi, S. (2012), 'Interactive documentary: setting the field',
Studies in Documentary Film, 6: 2, pp. 125-139, doi: 10.1386/sdf.6.2.125_1.

CONTRIBUTOR DETAILS
judith Aston is a senior lecturer at the University of the West of England,
specializing in multiplatform documentary and digitally expanded film­
making. She has a background in Visual Anthropology and Computer-related
Design, holding an M.A from the University of Cambridge and a Ph.D. from
the Royal College of Art in London. She was a pioneer in the emergent inter­
active media industry of the mid-1980s, working on a range of early projects
with the likes of Apple Computing, the BBC Interactive Television Unit and
Virgin Publishing. In her capacity as eo-convenor of the i-Does symposia, she
is particularly interested in placing debates around authorship, agency and
new approaches to storytelling at the centre of the ongoing discussions.
'
Contact: University of the West of England, Bower Ashton Campus, Oanage
Road, Bristol, BS3 4QP.
E-mail: judith.aston@uwe.ac.uk

Sandra Gaudenzi started her career as a television producer and has been
teaching interactive media theory at the London College of Communication
(University of the Arts London) since 1999. Her research interests include
interactive documentary, interactive narrative, mobile video, locative media
and augmented reality. Sandra is also eo-convener of i-Does: a conference

138 139
SDF 6 (2) pp. �4�-�57 Intellect Limited 20�2

Studies in Documentary Film


Volume 6 Number 2
© 2onl ntellect Ltd Article. English language. doi: 1D.1386/sd f.6.2.l4l_l

SIOBHAN O'FLVNN
Un iversity of Toronto

Docu mentary's metamorphic


form: Webdocl i nteractive�
transmedia1 partici patory
j o u rn a l o f African C i n e m a
ISSN 175lr922l l Online ISSN 1754-923X
and beyond
2 issues per year I Volu mes� 2013

Aims and Scope


ABSTRACT KEYWORDS
What defines African cinema? Is there an African identity, and if so, how is Editors
it represented in film>}AC explores these questions while exam ining the This article examines the evolution of interactive, cross-platfonn and transmedia transmedia
Keyan G. Tomasel l i
interactions of visual and verbal narratives in African film. lt explores how University o f KwaZLilu-1 documentaries within the context of the earlier model of database narratives and web documentary
identity and perception are positioned within diverse African film languages, tomasel/@ukzn.ac.za the impact of Web 2.0 technologies. Specific documentary projects illustrate htYW the interactive
and how Africa and its peoples are represented on screen. interactivity supported by online platforms has influenced the aesthetics ofform and documentary
Martin M h ando1 altered conventional models ofproduction and distribution. crowdsourcing
Call for Papers Murdoch U niversity Web 2.0
The editors are seeking articles, reviews and com parative analyses on African database narratives
cinema throughout its historical a n d contem porary legacies. The journal A visit to the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
wishes to concentrate on: DocLab website in December 2011 attests to the vibrancy and variation
The film of the everyday and the 'every-African': of form found in interactive documentaries (i-docs) produced in the past
populist films and their language decade. What is also clear in surveying the featured works is that there is no
Shifting sites of authoritative discourses from single template for production in terms of either the design of the interfaces
knowledge to meaning and interactivity or the design of multi-platform distributed documentaries.
The propagation of the verbal culture-based film Although this latter form is now more often designated transmedia, follow­
ing the Producers Guild of America's creation of the 'Transmedia Producer
Credit' in April 2010, it is important to recognize that the term denotes a
design strategy of distributing narrative content across platforms rather than

Intellect is an independent academic publisher of books and journals, to view our catalogue or order our titles visit
www.intellectbooks.com or E.-mail: journals@intell ectbooks.com. rntell ect1 The M ill, Parnall Road, Fishponds, Bristol, UK, 141
Siobhan O'FJynn Documentary's metamorphic form

a distinct and singular model of production. Importantly, in the context of Transmedia documentaries add a further nuance in that narrative content
American film and television, this evolving production model is also being is designed as distributed across multiple platforms (digital and non-digital),
driven by commercial concerns. What is evident in contemporary practice often (but not always) designed with interactive components. Designing for
is that experimentation with new models of production, particularly cross­ participation has become an almost required component in the discussions
platform design, social media usage and new technologies are driving a of transmedia documentaries, particularly in the context of social concerns, as
degree of accelerated innovation in the form of i-docs that is remarkable. documentary makers seek to leverage social media platforms to invite audi­
With the increasing popularity of Web 2.0 platforms, documentary makers ences to contribute content and to connect with each other. The artistic and
are increasingly inviting content created by fans (crowdsourcing) and turn­ aesthetic calibre of digital i -does, transmedia and participatory documenta­
ing to audiences as communities that can participate in funding documen­ ries and their metamorphic quality in the blurring, hybridization of multime­
tary projects (crowdfunding). The fluidity of this space of practice in the dia forms are now being recognized in international awards such as the IDFA
adoption of new platforms, screens and technologies is recognized in the DocLab, the MIPDOC 2010 WebDoc Trailblazer and the Sheffield Doe/Pest
description on the IDFA site, which extends the realm of digital storytelling innovation Award, which acknowledges 'the project that exhibits originality in
into 'other' to be discovered realms: 'Throughout the year, IDFA DocLab approach to form, storytelling and delivery'.1 The emphasis on innovation in
showcases interactive webdocs and other new forms of digital storytelling form and the creative use of the affordances of digital and web platforms and
that expand the documentary genre beyond linear filmmaking' (IDFA 2007). a shift away from traditional linear form are evident in a sampling of the list
It is this notion of 'beyond linear filmmaking' that marks the porousness of of recent award winners: the NFB's Highrise for the IDFA 2010 (Cizek 2010);
this emergent and changing field of practice and which presents a challenge ARTE's Gaza/Sderot for the MIPDOC 2010 WebDoc Trailblazer (Brachet
in creating a stable taxonomy of forms. 2008); and the NFB's Bear 71 for the Sheffield Doc/Fest innovation Award 2012
Sandra Gaudenzi's doctoral thesis maps current variants as hyper­ (Mendes 2012). Having been a member of both the MIPDOC 2010 and the
text, conversational, participative and experiential while foregrounding the Sheffield Doe/Festival innovation Award 2012 juries, a key point of discussion
digital interactive documentary or i-doc as a relational object that requires for both juries was the question of innovation in the digital space in adapting
the agency and interactivity of the audience (Gaudenzi 2009: 3). Here, she and using the affordances of web and digital platforms and technologies.
extends Bill Nichols' parsing of documentary points of view that organize to What this article examines is the evolution of a now distinct yet ever­
the film-maker, the text and the viewer (Nichols 1991: 12), and his taxon­ changing cinematic form and practice that continues to be rooted in what
omy of modes of representation1 (poetic, expository, observational, partici­ John Grierson's termed documentary's 'creative treatment of reality'. As
patory, reflexive and performative) (Nichols 2001) to understand the logic in two forms that deploy non-linear content design models, it may be useful
the shift to the viewer's experience in interactive design. In terms of form, to establish a distinction between interactive and transmedia documen­
i-docs can then be analysed in terms of how they make meaning via the taries, as numerous projects exist as hybrids. An i-doc can be web-based
viewer/user/participant's engagement with the specific project (Gaudenzi or created as a physical installation, but it is a discrete contained work
2009). This focus of analysis can then be thought of in terms of the design encountered on a single platform, and in earlier examples tends to func­
of interactivity and user experience, which this article will address. As such, tion as a closed database. A transmedia documentary distributes a narra­
i-docs can be contrasted with web-based documentaries (webdocs) that use tive across more than one platform, it can be participatory or not, can invite
the Web as a broadcast platform for traditional linear documentaries, and audience-generated content or not, tends to be open and evolving, though
which may or may not have interactive paratextual components. In 2012, not always. This article will consider how both forms can be understood
two landmark examples of webdocs that combine traditional documentary within two contextual and interrelated frames. The first frame is defined by
form with cross-platform paratextual and participatory components are the structural principles underlying database narratives and a consideration
Caine's Arcade (Mullick 2012) and Kony 2012 (Invisible Children 2012). of how the emergent phenomenon of i-docs should be understood as both
Both of these documentaries were launched online and achieved global an extension of and deviation from earlier conceptions of database narra­
viral success using social media campaigns and cross-platform extensions, tives as randomized� algorithmic cinematic forms as theorized in the early
leveraging the many-to-many (M2M) sharing capacity of social platforms 2000s. The second frame foregrounds the Impact of ubiquitous computing
to create global networked communities around traditional documentaries. and the development of Web 2.0 platforms, social media, mobile and tablet
In contrast, i-docs are often designed as databases of content fragments, devices as multiple screens that have contributed to the uptake of participa­
often on the web, though not alw<ilys, wherein unique interfaces structure tory, collaborative and social strategies often underlying transmedia produc­
the modes of interaction that allow audiences to play with documentary tions. The instantaneous connectivity of Web 2.0 platforms have amplified
content. The story or stories are encountered as changeable non-linear and extended the efficacy of what Bill Nichols termed the twentieth centu­
experiences, the narrative or storyline is often designed as open, evolving ry's non-fictional 'discourses of sobriety' and documentary's underlying
and processual, sometimes including audience created content. In prac­ ideological and activist stance in relation to its audience (Nichols 1991: 3).
tice, however, documentary makers such as Kat Cizek of the NFB's multi­ Here i-docs continue established prf!.ctices of documentary makers who
year, multi-platform Highrise project use both analogue and digital forms, have sought to activate audiences in response to social justice issues and
complicating further the definitional criteria associated with interactive crisis initiatives. Simultaneously and paradoxically, though, digital and Web
digital documentaries, incorporating performance in real-time installations 2.0 technologies are also blurring prior divisions between fiction and non­
(Cizek 2010-2011). fiction, text and paratext, director and audience.

142 143
Siobhan O'Fiynn Documentary's metamorphic form

FIRST LINE OF ENQUIRY: EVOLUTION OF INTERACTIVE TO exponentially increasing database of alternative possible content depending on
TRANSMEDIA DOCUMENTARIES the degree of choice) (Murray 1998: 71-83). Significantly, Murray's concluding
discussion looks to the more expressive potential of digital media in capturing
In the context of the first frame of database narratives, a key distinction of
human experience and its potential for pleasure, heralding the very impor­
=t=Porary works is that i-docs are designed to be coherent
.
and concep-
. . tant questions: why do we play with interactive content and what generates
tually unified experiences. This is �chieved by str�tegtcally org�mg
pleasure and satisfaction in interactive environments? Marsha Kinder revisits
dynamic content within a clear thematic and/or P_Olermcal frame that !?'mdes
. Manovich·in 'Designing a database cinema' to argue that narrative and data­
the meaning of and engagement with the expenence. Alternatively, 1-docs
base 'are two compatible structures whose combination is crucial to the crea­
can be organized as fragmented narratives focused on an individual though
tive expansion of new media, since all narratives are constructed by selecting
more often on a community or communities. These framing devices are one
items from databases (that usually remain hidden), and then combining these
response to a tension articulated by Lev Manovich in his statement that 'data­
items to create a particular story' (Kinder 2003: 348-349; see also O'Flynn
base and narrative are natural enemies',1 a postulate that critical engagement
2005). She recognizes the importance of patterning and our cognitive engage­
with the potential of database narratives has wrestled with over the past
ment in digital narratives of controlled randomness in that these textual
decade (Manovich 1999). Manovich's own 2005 database cinema project, Soft
landscapes require ' . . . a constant refiguring of our mental cartography with
Cinema: Navigating the Database, illustrates the lack of affect that results from
its supporting databases, search engines and representational conventions'
the absence of strong narrative and/or paratextual frames. Soft Cinema was
(Kinder 2003: 353). Interactive works add complexity to the break of immer­
designed as a (re)combinatory work for DVD or screen that mixes audio and
sion necessitated by interactivity, as pleasure can be generated as a result of
video clips in an algorhythmic sequence that ensures no single viewing is ever
experiential design in web interfaces. In contrast to utility-oriented interfaces
that function as content delivery systems (think Netflix), the mechanics of
the same. Yet, the experience lacks meaningful complexity in adhering to a
structural model articulated here: 'As a cultural form, database represents the
interactivity can initiate exploration, discovery and pleasure in the unexpected
world as a list of items and it refuses to order this list. In contrast, a narrative
and idiosyncratic design.
creates a cause-and-effect trajectory of seemingly unordered items (events)'
David Hudson's essay 'Undisclosed recipients: Database documentaries
(Manovich 1999). What is lost in this conception is the complexity of narrative
and the Intemef makes a valuable contribution to the field of documentary
structures that layer meaning through patterns, juxtapositions, associations
studies in adapting Marsha !Cinder's theory of 'database narratives', as 'dual
and reversals that can telegraph meaning through the poetics of the text.
process of selection and combination' (Hudson 2008; Kinder 2002: 6), as a
Antecedents can also be found in surrealist films, the complexity of
frame for investigating i-doc as a form. He argues 'that database documen­
poetry and traditional documentary. Bill Nichols includes the poetic mode in
taries loosen assumptions about documentary from fixed modes (expository,
his Introduction to Documentary as an addition to his earlier taxonomy of
observational, personal) and towards open modes (collaborative, reflexive,
four categories (Nichols 1991; Nichols 2001). Manovich's reductionist view
interactive)' (Hudson 2008: 2). One consequence of this shift he identifies is
of narrative as a simplistically linear structure driven by cause and effect, i.e.
'from object-based "push" media (celluloid, video, even visual display of a
action based, which the interactive work then 'breaks' in order to 'choose
graphical user interface (GUI)) towards act- based "pull" media (user acts,
your own adventure', is also evident in Carolyn Handl�r Miller's state�ent
hyperlinks, algorithms)' (Hudson 2008: 2). A5 he traces through a number of
that 'The viewers can be given the opportunity of choosmg what matenal to
examples, this process of selection and engagement in negotiating a database
see and in what order. They might also get to choose among several audio
structure online can mimic the archival structure of the Internet itself (Hudson
tracks' (Miller 345; see also Aarseth 1994). When interactivity is reconceived
2008: 6). Recent interactive storytelling platforms such as Mozilla's Popcorn
as an engagement with a dynamic interface that is playful, exploratory and
HTMLS have been designed to pull real-time content from the Web in rela­
not based on expectations of utility, our relationship to the work fundamen­
tion to existing designed content, taking the idea of an Internet-based docu­
tally changes and we become interactants (O'Flynn 2011). In the interest of
mentary to a logical next phase. Hudson also cites examples of Internet
recognizing how radical the quality of a shift to experiential design for the
documentaries that combine the representational strategies of conventional
audience is in an interactive medium, I will use two distinct terms, 'user' and
documentary with what he terms 'the less conventional mode' of 'dialoguing'
''interactant' in order to acknowledge the utilitarian and consumer orientation
(Hudson 2008: 6), foreshadowing the participatory, community networking
of the term, 'user', and highlight in contrast the agency and participation of
that is now characteristic of many 2011-2012 i-docs and transmedia docu­
the 'interactanf in playing with dynamic interfaces that then shape and frame
mentaries. Rather than presenting documentaries as closed structures, this
the experience of a given work. 1
hybridization supports 'multiple perspectives of particular situations, empha­
A review of critical thinking on interactive cinema and database narra­
sizing movements towards collaborative, open-ended knowledge' (Hudson
tives of the past decade reveals key breaks between past and present practice
2008: 6). The impact of Web 2.0 platforms is evident in the expectation now in
driven by specific technological innovations. Janet Murray in Hamlet on the
2012 of participatory design in i-docs, inviting content generation, collabora­
Holodeck defined the four essential properties of digital media as: procedural
tion and sharing throughout 2011 and ,2012. Attention to the user experience
(rule-based); participatory (interactive in that they are responsive to input);
in individual projects is now a necessary design component, in contrast to the
spatial (interactive works of necessity are designed to encourage exploration
conventional trajectory of documentary film production, cinema release and
through a system of networked and/or linked content and/or through hyper­
broadcast mechanisms.
text or graphic environments); and encyclopaedic (interactivity necessitates an

144 145
Siobhan O'Fiynn Documentary's metamorphic form

When considering (user) experience design within these earlier works, A key feature of the web documentaries discussed so far is that they are
the conception of interactivity is based on a concept of a sliding scale of structured to tell a reasonably coherent 'story'. The interactive website for
control, functioning as a zero/sum equation where the film-maker cedes Errol Morris' Standard Operating Procedure (2008) fits here telling the story of
in varying degrees authorial and/or editorial control to the user who has military participants in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse, but through a spatial,
a limited degree of choice within a discrete and finite database of content. dynamic presentation of the infamous photographs and an organizational
In these earlier models focused on user as editor, a recurrent promotional structure that supports multiple modes of accessing the content (Morris 2008).
mantra was the allure of 'now you can edit your own film'. A good exam­ The home page displayed a group of the infamous photos taken by the US
ple of this early form is Florian Thalhofer and Mahmoud Hamdy's non­ military personnel and images taken from Morris' interviews with the military
linear documentary (2003), Seven Sons, which was produced in Thalhofer's personnel scattered around the film title. Rolling the cursor over individual
Korsakow software, which works with a simpler interface that focuses photos triggered each photo to scale larger in turn and encouraged the inter­
attention on the question of editorial control rather than user experience actant to click on a given photo, causing the images to reorient with that photo
(Thalhofer 2003) . Gaudenzi usefully refers to these highly structural and as the now central image. Smaller peripheral images are then organized with
controlled works as hypertext documentaries (Gaudenzi 2009b). Korsakow headings indicating: Personal Account, Commentary and Photos. A menu
uses a -rule-based system that preloads available clips based on predeter­ in the upper left opened tabs to reorganize the content as: The Events, The
mined algorithms that tag images, audio and video clips as linked or not Profiles, The Prison and Director's Q & A, corresponding to Aristotle's funda­
linked to preceding clips. Thalhofer's software allows film-makers and mentals of the good drama defined as plot, character and setting. Clicking
audiences to experiment in a highly controlled way with non-linear film on The Events produces a horizontal chronological time line, whereas The
and create an associational structure moving from element to element via Profiles reconfigures participant photos in a vertical line, organized hierarchi­
an associational tagging system, allowing for a more detailed understand­ cally with the commanding officer Brigadier General Janis Karpinski at the
ing of the database structure. Seven Sons does this with tags such as 'Sand', top, followed by the descending order of officers to privates, with the contract
'Water' and so forth. As a design tool, Korsakow is one answer to what Lev interrogators at the bottom of the vertical stack. As such, the website design
Manovich defined as the challenge for 'new media' when he stated that we worked as an elegant and intuitive interface wherein the associational and
'expect computer narratives to showcase new aesthetic possibilities which causal links between reordered images was always clear or easily recuper­
did not exist before digital computers. In short, we want them to be new ated. Its dynamic interface and recombinatory structure positioned Standard
media specific' (Manovich 1999). Operating Procedure as a more complex experiential Web documentary that
Yet, interactive onllne fihns (documentary or drama) designed in this form demonstrated how more immersive webdocs are when the interface design is
are more often reified experiences that rarely create an emotional resonance aesthetically and thematically linked to the content.
with the interactant and this is a consequence of two factors. The first is that Another i-doc that broke new ground in the thematic integration of
the removal of a fixed editorial structure results in the absence of a sense of content and interface design and that worked with a closed database narrative
a narrowing horizon of choice leading to a dramatic climax and conclusion, was the NFB's i-doc Waterlife (2010), which also provides an excellent exam­
in what Robert McKee termed the archetype structure (McKee 1997). The ple of how the experience of a dynamic interface design can be expressive of,
second is the often 'flat' or 'static' interface design that takes only minimal and integrated with, the content or subject matter in a highly pleasurable way.
advantage of the affordances of web interfaces, where the focus of interac­ With this kind of dynamic interface, the user becomes the interactant, and is
tion is only on what content to view next. One can return to Murray's flag­ positioned in a more exploratory mode in relation to the content (McMahon
ging of the importance of pleasure as a significant aspect of engagement with 2009). NFB producer Loc Dao has described the process behind the produc­
digital media and increasingly more recent dynamic interfaces are designed tion of the webdoc and how all elements within the interface design had to
to be pleasurable and exploratory in their own right. Notably, it is this aspect support a sense and experience of liquidity, fitting given that the subject of the
of experience design that often offsets and balances what can be challenging documentary was North America's Great Lakes (Dao 2010).
and/or distressing content. In all of these instances of integrated design, the experience of negotiat­
Looking back over the past five years, the evolution in form resulting from ing the database/website is as important as a design element as the choice
technological shifts is clear. Winner of the Prix SCAM 2009 digital interac­ of colour palette or conventions of cinematography or graphic style. Here
tive artwork award, the French i-doc Journey to the End of Coal (Bollendorff, too, the creators of i-docs, unlike film-makers, have to constantly innovate in
2009) is designed as a 'choose your own path' experience within a highly form in the marrying of interface and narrative, and no individual work estab­
constrained set of choices that do not impact on how the narrative unfolds, lishes a template for future i-docs. In the digital space, the replication of an
a binary choice structure that can work well in games, yet which adds little existing structure or design is more than likely a failure to think through the
narrative enrichment to the beautiful cinematic content. Sandra Gaudenzi's idiosyncracies of the core experience to be communicated in a given project.
discussion of three modes of interactivity in i-docs: 'semi-closed (when the Manovich's insight that 'new' media foregrounds the database of editorial
user can browse but not change the content), semi-open (when the user can possibilities always latent in film prodpction is still a valid reflection on the
participate but not change the structure of the i-doc) or completely open underlying database structures of the i-doc form. Yet, the first marked evolu­
(when the user and the i-doe constantly change and adapt to each other)' is tion away from a cinema-rooted form arose because of a shift to experiential
also useful here (Gaudenzi 2009a). interface design.

147
Siobhan O'Flynn Documentary's metamorphic form

SECOND LINE OF ENQUIRY: THE IMPACT OF WEB 2.0 directors such as Errol Morris in The Thin Blue Line (Beattie 2008, 68). Of great
TECHNOLOGIES AND PRACTICES significance is her observation that 'even within the changed and fragmentary
reception platform of the computer screen', audiences retain an impulse to
My second line of enquiry extends from this first phenomenon in tra:mg ho�
narrativize non-linear content (Beattie 2008, 69). The documentary maker can
i-docs have increasingly leveraged the phenomenon of Web 2.0 socral media
design 'to engage the empathy of the viewer. It is possible to present a well­
platforms and the affordances of the Interne.t to us.e extend doc entary
� researched database of verifiable documents embedded in cinematic images,
projects across multiple platforms, and to inVIte audiences to ��apate as
which sustain in a fragmentary manner the essence of the documentary argu­
collaborators. Here, i-does extend a logic of engagement that traditional docu­
menf (Beattie 68).
mentary makers have often designed for, which is the capacity of documentary
Because of the Internet's connectivity and global reach, i-does are increas­
to serve as a catalyst for public outcry and hopefully social activism. Combined
ingly processual in that they can be designed as ongoing project: �viting the
with the networked capacities of Web 2.0 platforms, the development of
submission of participant-generated content (PGC). Where traditional docu­
multi- or cross-platform documentaries has led to the rapid coalescence of
mentaries were presented in the final edit as a static closed artefact, online
an array of strategies under the designation of transmedia documentary. As
documentaries can be open in form and practice, extending across multi­
these practices are fluid and evolving,. any snapshot given here will likely be
ple platforms, as expanding, interactive, porous and participatory databases.
repositioned as a past moment in the light of new technologies and platforms
Within this fluid digital space, the hybridization of forms is now as rapid as the
by the time of publication.
emergence of distinct forms. Transmedia documentaries that rely on curation
One source of mobilization and creative innovation stems from the
and collaboration of PGC are distinct from those that design highly structured
recognition by content creators that the Internet can support an immediate
and authored content systems. Most importantly, these distinct forms require
dialogue and exchange with and between a global audience via Web 2.0 plat­
very different approaches to narrative design. Another hybrid form occurs
forms. When webdoc, i-doc and transmedia creators establish clear narrative
with the blurring of fact and fiction, and increasingly �transmedia' is used as
frameworks, participatory, i-docs position content producers and the commu­
the catch-all phrase for a disparate set of strategies mixed in varying degrees.
nities they engender as deliberate catalysts for social activism. While this �as
As a design strategy, the concept of transmedia in 2012 now functions in two
been a goal of traditional social change documentaries with the foregrounding
overlapping though not always integrated ways. Henry Jenkins formalized the
of directorial voices and expose practices in the works of Errol Morris, Michael
term in his analysis of The Matrix (The Wachowskis, 1999) as a transmedia
Moore and Morgan spurlock who call for reform in industry and/or govern­
entertainment property that 'unfolds across multiple media platforms, with
ment, the connectivity of the net is unprecedented. Where the fihns of Morris,
each new text making a distinctive and valuable conhibution to the whole'
Moore and Spurlock attest to Nichols' claim that 'documentaries always were
(Jenkins 2006: 95-96; Wachowski 1999). As Jenkins noted, transmedia prop­
forms of "re-presentation" of reality ... the filmmaker ... always a participant
erties depended on fan willingness to discover distributed content, which
witness and active fabricator of meaning' (Nichols 2005: 18), digital technolo­
necessitated a high degree of engagement from a core audience Qenkins 2006;
gies and social platforms provide more immediate and widespread opportuni­
see also Jenkins 2009).
ties for multiple interventions, engagements with, and re-representations of
Since then, the rapid uptake of social media and the clear evidence of fan
experience through the M2M functionality of social media platforms. Stella
enthusiasm for connecting, creating, remixing and sharing content online has
Bruzzi has defined the documentary film-maker as one who invades real
been leveraged by artists and the entertainment and advertising industries
space wherein the documentary manifests as 'a dialectical conjunction of a
. in the promotion of participatory storytelling where fans as con:ununiti s e
real space' (Bruzzi 2000: 125) . In contrast, Web 2.0 platforms empower audi­ : �
invited to eo-create content. This second model often overlaps With the first m
ences as networked communities who can intervene, critique and on occa­
what again is often a sliding scale bet.vveen authorship and curation. Hybrid
sion mobilize in response to the calls to action embedded in documentary's
documentaries such as Jane McGonigal's World Without Oil and Urgent Evoke,
re-presentation of real-world crises. Key to this change has been the shift from
Lance Weiler's Pandemic and Tony Pallotta's Collapsus have used hypotheti­
what can be defined as the one-way channel of communication in traditional
cal frameworks projecting near-future scenarios to invite audiences to address
documentary where films are of necessity linear in presentation, where the
and/or 'solve' crises and generate narratives in the process. The catalyst crises
film is a discrete artefact viewed in cinema or on DVD. In contrast, Web 2.0
for these ARGs were, respectively, the global oil industry collapse; a global
technologies and platforms support M2M conversations between audiences
developed world food shortage in which African elders held the key for
and content creators via multiple platforms including blogs, social media
survival; a global virus that inunobilized adults, leaving children to save the
platforms and wikis, where this exchange can be immediate, ar hived d
� � day; and a second peak oil crisis.1
networked online. Debra Beattie's essay, 'Documentary expressiOn online:
In Angelica Das' post �Transmedia for social documentary' on the Tribeca
"The Wrong Crowd," a history documentary for an "electrate" audience'
Future of Film website, one of her examples presents another hybrid merg­
examines the process and challenges of making an Internet documentary for
ing of fact and fiction (Das 2011). Jacqueline Olive's documentary project on
Australia's ABC Internet Portal in 2002 (Beattie 2008). As she notes, design­
lynching in America, Always in Seasop, uses a Second Life simulacrum envi­
ing for the Web in 2002 was uncharted territory in terms of audience recep­
ronment to engage participants in of a 1930s lynching (Olive 2010). This gami­
tion to non-linear database narratives. Yet, in a conclusion similar to that of
fication of a compositing of historical events invites participants to respond in
Marsha Kinder, Beattie asserts that the experience of 'ordering the real' from
the game space to ail. intended lynching of an African American man, which
fragmentary, polyphonic narratives was a familiar protocol, established by
the game curtails from its conclusion.

>48
>49
Siobhan O'Fiynn Documentary's metamorphic form

Crowdfunding has also become an important factor in media creation ongoing participatory remake of Dziga Vertov's 1929 film Man with a Movie
in the Web 2.0 sphere, changing the dynamics of curation and/or collabo­ Camera invites a global audience to submit footage corresponding to the 1276
ration. One should note, however, that crowdfunding is a strategy used to shots from the film�s 57 scenes in order to remake the film shot-for-shot.
fund any and all enterprises from iPhone cases to dental surgery to trans­ The online iteration of the film changes daily dependent on the number of
media documentaries. What is significant in the context of how the digital images or clips of PGC as the site loads different content elements each day.
sphere has impacted i-doc production is that media creators are now reach­ As an ongoing project, the website changes daily in response to the ongoing
ing out to audiences through crowdfunding initiatives, often at the begin­ submission of content from a potentially global audience is searchable and
ning of the development of a production rather than targeting audiences with designed with simple utility oriented rather than experiential interfaces.
marketing campaigns six weeks or less prior to release. I would emphasize, If awards are an indicator, there is wide agreement that the NFB's multi­
though, that crowdfunding is a business development model that is content platform documentary project, Highrise, is one of the most innovative trans­
agnostic and in itself is in no way determinant of whether or not a project is media documentary projects currently ongoing. The focus of this project is
transmedia. Vincent Mosco's work on the myth of new media technologies as the enquiry into the experience of life in high-rise towers, which Ozek and
'bring[ing] about revolutionary changes in society' flags 'a genuine desire for producer Gerry Flahive call the world's vertical suburbs. 1his core concern is
community and democracy'. (2004: 19). Lina Srivastava's TEDx Rome Talk on explored through multiple platforms including the two-authored i-docs, The
'Transmedia documentary and social change' details a number of transmedia Thousandth Tawer and Out My Windaw, launched in 2010, the Flickr group that
documentaries that use cross-platform and participatory strategies and that invites submissions of photos taken from anyone's high-rise window (Cizek
have been structured to provide catalysts for audience activism (Srivastava 2011c), feeding the curated Highrise: Out My Windaw Participate compo­
2011). Her criteria of the necessary characteristics of the successful transmedia nent on the NFB website (Cizek 2011b), an HTML5 interactive video that
documentary integrates the twu streams of authored and participatory strate­ animates one tower's residents revisioning of their high-rise (Cizek 2011a).
gies discussed here: Future extensions will include a game, possibly as an app, and future part­
Each project has at its core the use of local voice, in direct partnership nered research projects linking transnational sites.
with the platform creator. So they are truly community-centered participa­ it should be noted that the NFB producers are in a relatively privileged
tion. Second, each uses its platform to move beyond awareness ... to connect position in terms of funding as even with budget cuts, the NFB is a govern­
participants to commit to a particular worldview, to advocacy or to action. ment supported institution. For documentary makers reliant on broadcast,
Finally, each project uses a number of different platforms to cross boundaries distribution, arts grants or crowdsourced funding, the challenges of produc­
and borders to foster transformation. (Srivastava 2011). The ease of uploading tion and financing are further complicated in that there are no template
content to YouTube, Flickr and Facebook for supporters of a given project has business models for revenue generation for webdocs, i-docs or transmedia
also contributed to the global enthusiasm for participation evident in many documentaries (the same applies to dramatic cross-platform content). The
i -doe projects. last significant shift that should be touched on in terms of what has changed
This model of inviting an audience to contribute content within a specific with the evolution of the i-doc is in the complications to business models, as
constraint or frame is also identified as one of a number of categories Nora these new documentary forms have no reliable or standard business model.
Barry defines in her essay 'Telling stories on screens: A history of web cinema' This rapidly evolving and disruptive aspect of media production is insepara­
(Ban:y 2003; Ban:y n.d). Here, Ban:y provides a taxonomy of form and prac­ ble from the activist orientation of Web 2.0 documentary practices wherein
tice that had emerged with the impact of digital technologies and artists' one can argue that the participatory strategies of contemporary i-docs and
experimentation with creating content for new screens. A return to this not transmedia documentaries are intentionally designed to empower audiences
so distant critical overview and the questions posed by Barry in the conclusion as active members of galvanized and sometimes activist communities. As
of her essay is illuminating, as the categories she notes continue to anchor such, participatory strategies would seem to contemporize Brecht's challenge
current trends in the development of interactive online content yet trace these within the theatre space to transform passive audiences to active 'spect-actors'
trends to practices before the phenomenon of social media. In the typology she (Harris 2001). Clearly, content creators in 2012 (documentary and dramatic)
creates, we find a range of interactive practices supported by web platforms are scrambling to leverage social media platforms to connect with audi­
and digital technologies that still define the scope of what are grouped under ences where they already are. If one tracks the rate of adoption of YouTube
the term interactive works today. Her 'pass-along narratives' are defined as 'a and Facebook as broadcast channels and community sites for contempo­
filmmaker starts a story and places it online, and other filmmakers or viewers rary content, it is evident that cross-platform distribution and social media
from around the world add to W (Ban:y 2003: 546) and align closely with what outreach have been reactive strategies, intended to emulate the viral success
Sandra Gaudenzi terms 'collab does'. of home-made, non-professional videos (think David at the Dentist). Today's
A 2011 post by i-doc producer Mandy Rose identifies a similar phenom­ media landscape further complicates the efficacy of what Brecht proposed
enon in collaborative documentary in what she terms the 'Creative Crowd' as the contradictory text designed to challenge the passivity of consumer­
model (Rose 2011). Here, 'multiple participants contribute fragments to a oriented audiences (Belsey 2002: 126) . In 2012, the 'artist' and/or studio no
.

highly templated whole, analogous to the separate panels within a quilt'. longer control the text or the media landscape, which are more porous, unsta­
Examples given are video artist Perry Bard's Man with a Movie Camera: The ble and changing than that of the twentieth century. Consider the difference
Global Remix and Mad V's The Message and the distinctive characteristics of of today's media landscape to what Catherine Belsey observed in 1992 build­
these works are 'energy and repetition' (Bard 2007-; Mad V 2009). Bard's ing on Brecht and Barthes' theorizing of the 'writerly' text (Barthes 1970: 5):

>so
Siobhan O'Fiynn Documentary's metamorphic form

'In what I have called the interrogative text there is no simple hierarchy of content, or in communities supporting social change and production financ­
voices such that the reader is offered privileged access to the work's 'truth'. ing. At this juncture, documentation of the individual works (webdoc, i-doe,
Instead the reader constructs meaning out of the contradictory voices which transmedia documentaries) and the processes of interaction and flows of PGC
the text provides' (Belsey 2002: 129). Meaning today is no longer provided, is vital, as digital works have no lasting material substance and there is no
controlled or conveyed solely by the 'authored' text as either Brecht or Barthes guarantee that a web-based work will be online for any length of time. My
conceived. Instead, texts are disrupted, remixed, created and dishibuted by hope is that this critical reflection on the evolution of these rapidly metamor­
audiences who bypass earlier models of production and reception. Meaning phing documentary forms, though necessarily incomplete, can contribute to
is also generated in the interactions of audiences as networked communities, our understanding of the historical context and future trajectories of the inter­
responding to online content and to each other, shifting the centre of gravity active, transmedial documentary.
and lP control away from traditional old media content producers.
Ironically, although the participatory strategies of contemporary i-does and
transmedia documentaries arguably extend Brecht's challenge to audiences to REFERENCES
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SUGGESTED CITATION
O'Flyrm, S. (2012), 'Documentary's metamorphic form: Webdoc, interactive,
transmedia, participatory and beyond', Studies in Documentary Film, 6: 2,
pp. 141-157, doi: 10.1386/sd£.6.2.141_1.

CONTRIBUTOR DETAILS
Siobhan O'Flynn is a Senior Lecturer in the Canadian Studies Program at the
University of Toronto and Faculty with the Canadian Film Centre's Media
Lab. Her academic research examines the function, design and experience of
narrative in interactive environments; cross-platform to transmedia design;
foresighting emergent trends in digital storytelling and entertairunent in
a Web 2.0/3.0 world; and pyschogeographic practices across media. She is

156
157
SDF 6 (2) pp. �59-173 Intellect limited 20u

Studies in Documentary Film


Volume 6 Number 2
© 2012 l ntellect Ltd Article. English langu age. doi: 10.1386/sdf.6.2.159_1

JON DOVEY AND MAN DV ROSE


University of the West of England

We're happy and we know it:


Documentary� datal montage
j o u rnal of J apanese
& Ko rean C i n e m a
ABSTRACT KEYWORDS
ISSN 17 56-4905 1 Online 155N 1756-4913 This article is concerned with the soda[ praxis of documentary in the sea of 'ubiqui­ documentary
2 issues per volume I Vo lume s, 20l3 tous data' that is both consequence and driver of online social mediation. The topic digital
is given importance by the morphing of the character of video in the context of the data

Aims and Scope


latest web coding language, mMLS. Until nllW, web video has been impervious to online

Editors
its networked context, reproducing the conditions ofthe TVscreen in a hyperrnediated Web
The increasingly transnational status of Japanese and Korean cinema under­
space. Naw existing databases and live infonnation drawn from social media can be interactive
lines the need to deepen our u nderstand i n g of this im portant film-making David Desser connected to the documentary environment, offering opportunities for the production semantic
region. These neighbouring countries, so often in discord politically, never­ University of Illinois of new kinds of kniJWledge and application. The affordances of networked connectiv­
theless share many cultural attributes, providing scholars with a rich source desser@iflinois.edu ity offer the potential to recontextualize documentary material through mobilizing the
of research. enonnous eo-creative potential of human discourse captured in the Web. The chal­
Frances Gateward lenge in these marriages of mass media fonn and rhizomatic network is to find new
Call for Papers Ursinus College ways of shaping attention into a coherent experience. To do so, we have to reinvent
Submissions may include essays devoted to issues specific to either Japanese fgateward@ursinus.edu the soda[ praxis of documentary, creating new visual and infonnational grammars.
or Korean cinema, but articles on interactions between them will also con­
tinue to be considered. Topics for essays for future issues may concern:
H istorical considerations an d reconsiderations l. I NTRODUCTION
Authorship
Genre We believe that humanity is on the verge of a revolution. We've moved
Spectatorship and audiences beyond the web of pages and the Internet of people. Soon, we'll take
ubiquitous data for granted. Our every glance will be augmented; our
Reception of Japanese and Korean cinema regionally and globally
every purchase shared and analyzed. Big data, available to everyone, in
compelling, convincing interfaces will change the very nature of how
'i
I '
I ntellect is an ind ependent acad emic pu blisher of book s and journals, to view our catalogue o r order o u r titles visit
www.intellectbooks.com or E-mail: journals@lintell ectbooks.com. l ntellect, The Mill, Parnall Road, Fishponds, Bristol. UK, 159
Jon Dovey J Mandy Rose We're happy and we know it

we think. It will unseat and launch entire industries, hold governments rather than an add-on requiring a separate player - it is 'of the Web' rather
accountable, and empower society. There's an industrial revolution of than 'on the Web'. This allows for a new agility in the way that connections
data coming. The power of data will change us as surely as the power of can be made between video and other Web information sources. Existing
steam did a century ago. databases and live, up to the moment, information drawn from social media
(O'Reilly 2011) can be connected to the documentary environment. What new possibilities
does this unlock for documentary?
Our opening quotation is the marketing blurb for a 2011 conference aimed at
the business and technology community. The aim of the event was to investi­
gate 'the change brought to technology and business by data science, perva­ 2. FOOTPRINTS IN THE DIGITAL SAND
sive computing, and new interfaces'. In asserting that the 'power of data will Coloured dots dance across a black screen apparently at random. Where the
change us as surely as the power of steam did a century agd, the authors cursor rests, they cluster around it, jostling to get close. The dots are of vary­
offer us a useful entry point to the historical perspectives that will underpin ing sizes, colours and shapes. From some dots, words for feelings appear -
our analysis. In this article, we want to explore what might happen to docu­ 'disappointed', 'sick', 'great', 'real'. Sometime these are located in place;
mentary �n the sea of 'ubiquitous data' conjured by the marketeers of Web 2.0. 'United States, Oregon, guilty', 'Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Shemaissy, strong'.
Oassical documentary might be understood as a product of the 'age of steam', When you click on a dot, a sentence appears in the headline on the top of
a form that evolved from the mechanical optical technologies of the nineteenth the page, with a curious form of attribution: 'I did feel sadness for putting my
century combined with the operational needs of newly complex industrialized children through it, from a female, in chester, va United States when it was
and urbanized societies to create mediated mass communications systems. cloudy'. What are these dots? What's happening here?
As one of the innovative miracles of nineteenth-century technology, photo­ 1his is the first interface you come across in We Feel Fine, 'an almanac of
chemical image-making and its subsequent mechanical reproduction brought human emotion', created by sampling the world's blogs every few minutes for
the wonders of the world to an enthusiastic public. As the 'pencil of nature' the words 'I feel fine' or 'I am feeling'. The work, by jonathan Harris and Sep
the photographic process was conshucted as an indexical means of register­ Kamvar, made a stir when it was launched in 2005 and soon became an iconic
ing the visual world - its assemblage simultaneously a wonder and a scientific piece. The sentence containing the words is captured, along with informa­
instrument. The mission o� the documentary film has been to mediate society tion relating to the author. Each dot represents a feeling. The colour, inten­
to itself, to let one part of a society see another and to create a very particular sity, shape reflecting the feeling's character, intensity, mood. When the user
kind of dialogue. In its traditional construction, documentary has been under­ chooses from a menu of options, the dots/feelings organize themselves into
stood as part of an electronic public sphere, as a 'discourse of sobriety' akin to one of a number of 'playful interfaces' relating to demographic and contex­
others - science, the law, education - that shapes social reality (Nichols 1991: tual information. These 'movements' present the data in a variety of ways.
3--4) . A privileged relationship to social reality is one of the leading 'claims' of The section called Montage, for instance, uses images from blogs 'to ask what
the traditional discourse of documentary. However, documentary fihn in the happiness looks like', Mobs shows the most frequent feelings in a population
twentieth century was as much about changing the world as it was observing and Mounds represents how the feelings look in the whole database.
it. Nichols sums up this tradition in his well-known position that documen­ Still live, We Feel Fine still impresses for its innovation and for its realiza­
tary presents us with arguments about our shared world, propositions about tion, bringing computer science, data visualization and storytelling to bear on
the world that are made as part of a process of social praxis. Brian Winston content that is unlocked by tapping into the common metadata structure of
has a similar sense of documentary history when he writes about documen­ blogs. The aesthetic of WeFeel Fine combines machine and human in a manner
tary finding its place on the 'battlefields of epistemology'; he captures some at once witty and empathic. As Maria Popova says in reviewing the We Feel
of the ways in which documentary film-makers and critics argue about the Fine book in 2009: 'With its unique software-driven model, We Feel Fine is a
world we share when they argue about its documentary representation (1995). revelation of emotion through a prism of rational data that only makes the
Whilst this idea about a 'documentary tradition' has been widely critiqued emotional crux deeper and more compelling' (2009).
(e.g. Dovey 2000; Renov 2008; Bruzzi 2000), this article will work within the jonathan Harris became interested in storytelling through 'the partial
memory of documentary as a social praxis in its attempt to argue for new glimpse into somebody's life' that he saw in personal fragments, the scraps of
modalities of coherence within the emergent online environment. presence left by our online behaviours (2007). While studying computer science
We are concerned with the forms of social praxis available for documentary at Princeton, Harris observed that, 'suddenly people en masse were leaving
in its emergent online modes. Never has there been more documentary mate­ scores and scores of digital footprints online that told stories of their private
rial available to us; the online video world is awash with an impossible excess lives; blog posts, photographs, thoughts, feelings, opinions [ . . ) so I started to
.

of documentary fragments. We have dealt elsewhere with the dynamics of write computer programmes that study very large sets of these online foot­
collaboration as producers explore forms of eo-created documentary produc­ prints' (2007). What Harris was identifying was the emergence of a new type
tion (Dovey and Rose 2012). Others in this special edition deal with the emer­ of social information that was neither quantitative - thin data about a mass of
gent forms of i-Docs. In this article, we want to think about what happens people - nor qualitative - deep data about a few. The beautifully simple idea
when documentary irnaging occurs within the new data-rich contexts referred of sampling the blogosphere was one way Harris went about investigating this
to in our opening quotation above. With the latest generation of the web new domain, working with the human data in the snatches of self-expression
coding language HTMLS, video is becoming an integrated web technology being accrued moment by moment on social media platforms. I Want You to

160
Jon Dovey I Mandy Rose We're happy and we know it

Want Me (2008) continued this line of creative enquiry, examining contempo­ happiest places so far - four or five points higher than a continuous
rary love and desire through the content that people post on dating sites. urban setting. Being in the suburbs scores about one point happier than
In 1926, John Grierson defined documentary as 'the creative treatment of a continuous urban environment.
actuality'. In using the term 'actuality', he was referring to a specific form: (Heathcote 2011)
the newsreels - short film observations of topical events - that were shown
alongside features in cinemas then. The snatches of self-expression, which This evidence may not come as much of a surprise but it does serve to illustrate
are Harris's raw material, can be seen as 'actualities' of the Information Age, the unforeseen consequence for knowledge formation in our world of newly
units of content reflecting the world that can, with a creative treatment, be available data. A fundamental methodological problem for social scientists
fashioned into a documentary artefact. We do not have the space or the incli­ and historians is that almost no evidence exists of how people felt; the experi­
nation to discuss whether We Feel Fine is art or documentary. The point we are ential grain of everyday life can be imputed from certain kinds of documentary
making here is that the Web is now a vast repository of social information that record such as diaries, letters or Mass Observation reports, but the evidence
is potential documentary content. The live and changing nature of that data just has not been there till recent times. Nevertheless, this was considered an
is a new affordance. We Feel Fine is not static, but generative. According to inevitable methodological problem, an accepted limitation. Researchers were
Harris and Kamvar's online statement: not seeking to invent a permanently updating aflect polling system. But the
affordance of the mobile device, location and time data, wirelessly networked
At its core, We Feel Fine is an artwork authored by everyone. It will grow cloud computing, the database and the cultural experience for users of 'being
and change as we grow and change, reflecting what's on our blogs, polled all the time' combine to produce an entirely new (and rather amazing)
what's in our hearts, what's in our minds. We hope it makes the world body of statistical knowledge that could not have been there before.
seem a little smaller, and we hope it helps people see beauty in the There is, however, a distinction to be made between data and communica­
everyday ups and downs of life. tion, or perhaps, better, between data and language. Now that media exist in
(2012) digital forms and language can be transmitted through our everyday commu­
nication devices, there is a great deal of definitional slippage between 'data',
We Feel Fine ventures into a new creative territory - sculpting social media 'communication', 'media' and 'language'. Whitelaw (2006) in Diamond defines
data to create what we might call a Living Documentary. data as 'a set of measurements extracted from the flux of the real that are
abstract, blank meaningless' (2010: 1). Data may be extracted from the 'flux'
of our social media but data and social media are not the same thing. We can
3. THE SEA OF DATA derive data from language-based forms of social media communication and
We Feel Fine can be understood as a 'documentary' response to the ocean of expression, which is what Harris and Kevmar do in We Feel Fine. This is what
data that is both consequence and driver of online social mediation. The work a tag cloud does; it calculates frequency of use and turns those numbers into a
exploits an environment that produces data in wild profusion. All of our online graphical form. It is this translation between the searchable language of social
interactions produce data as an almost accidental affordance. Our computers media communications, to data (as numbers), to algorithms that predict behav­
hold and transmit records of what we have been doing (with our attention) and iours and taste, that is the economic driver of Web 2.0. When Tim O'Reilly
our mobile devices hold records ofwhere we are (or what we are doing with our made his prescription for Web 2.0 in 2005, he declared: 'Data is the new Intel
bodies). Our devices can easily record our behaviours. This information can then inside', implicitly replacing the hardware of the computer chip with the soft­
be netwurked in unexpected and unplanned ways. The ocean of data offers new ware produced by user interaction as the new driver of computing in society,
opportunities for the production of new kinds of knowledge and application. 'Users add value [ . . . ] Web 2.0 companies set inclusive defaults for aggregating
The entire field of mashup in which different existing application programming user data and building value as a side-effect of ordinary use of the application'
interfaces (AP!s) can be plugged into each other to produce unexpected new (2005). Data, he foresaw, would be the engine and the driver of the new social
insights is a product of the unforeseen consequences of data profusion. media Internet, but by this he did not mean that our interactions, searches,
'Mappiness', for instance, is a research project run by the London School likes, uploads or tweets were the same as data. He meant that what could be
of Economics; a free phone app asks you twice a day to rate your level of abstractedfrom these interactions would be the gold nuggets of Web 2.0. Trends,
happiness, relaxation and 'awakeness' on a scale of 1-10. These data are predictions and recommendations have made targeted marketing the main
then collated against location of t:pe respondents' phone, time and respond­ revenue option for many online operations. However, this data profusion does
ents' scores. The researchers are interested in correlating feeling to environ­ not just create capital for Google, eBay, Amazon and Facebook, it also has the
ment (the project is nm by researchers in the Department of Geography & potential to create cultural, public and educational capital.
Environment). Users are asked to take and upload a photo of what's exactly
in front of them, so that researchers can map photographs of the sites of the
feelings of their participating sample at any one time. 4. VIDEO GOES WEB NATIVE
The topic is given an added dimension by the morphing of the character of
It turns out that people are happier in every other environment than video in the context of HIML5. We have been used to video sitting on the
the urban environment, and the effect appears to be between about one Web within a player, aloof from the linked and networked character of its
and five points. Mountains and coniferous forests have come out as the environment, reproducing the conditions of the TV screen in a hypermediated

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jon Dovey 1 Mandy Rose We're happy and we know it

environment (Bolter and Grusin 1999). Even in interactive formats, although documentary form. The approach tended to be to take a finished factual video
the user may choose how he or she navigates and orders video segments, the or documentary and use Popcorn.js to annotate or add further information. One
media players for online video have made them impermeable to the wider might see this as simply analogous to adding captions or voice-over, although
data riches of the Web. With H1ML5, this is suddenly changing. Video coded the live nature of some of the source content provides a significant new poten­
into the web page enables a dynamic relationship to static and live web data. tial. The always historical 'document' can have always 'live' dynamic context.
In the same way that a hyperlink allows a connection between a word and The semantic remix of Right Wing Radio Duck by Rebellious Pixels stands
another location on the Internet, so now such a connection can be made from out among the 2010 Popcorn demos. This brilliant remix fuses Donald Duck
a point within a video timeline or image. This changes the character of video ­ footage with audio of Fox News' Glenn Beck. The Popcorn framework allows
transforming it in the context of the emerging Semantic Web from a media on the numerous sources to be displayed, which is a pleasure to watch, as it
the Web to a media of the Web. This phenomenon has been described vari­ reveals the virtuoso construction of the piece. At the same time, it makes
ously as 'semantic video', �hypervideo' and 'web-native' video. evident a politically significant function of semantic video, as the attribution of
A number of tools are in development to facilitate creative work that takes sources can provide a legal basis for quoting copyright content under Fair Use
advantage of these new affordances. These include Zeega and 3WDOC, both and can support Creative Commons use.
platforms for creating interactive documentaries. Among them is the Popcorn In a rougher state, but tantalizing for its documentary potential, is a proof
Maker, released in November 2011, an open-source authoring tool built by of concept for 18 Days in Egypt - the crowd-sourced documentary that is being
Mozilla's Open Video Lab, Web Made Movies. According to Mozilla, made from the media that people produced during the revolution in Egypt in
January/February 2011. Rather than use Popcorn on a video stream with addi­
Popcorn allows web filmmakers to amp up interactivity around their tional media around it, the 18 Days team have used full-screen video, offering
movies, harnessing the web to expand their creations in new ways. links to details within a shot. Stills, news coverage and video content taken
Popcorn uses JavaScript to link real-time social media, news feeds, data by participants can be accessed through hotspots within footage of a protest
visualizations, and other context directly to online video, pulling the crossing the Qasr-al-Nil Bridge in Cairo. An extended long shot becomes an
web into the action in real time. interface to explore the event. Eyewitness interviews, newspaper reports, Al
(2011) Jazeera coverage, the history of the bridge and its significance in the city are
all made available as a live archaeology of the document itself. The process
The Popcom.js library first went live in autumn 2010. The earliest demo pulled in opens up the world of the footage, offering multiple viewpoints and a sense of
AP!s from Google, Flickr, Wikipedia and Twitter, as well as automatic machine three-dimensionality, a powerful methodology for depicting the dynamics of
translation from Google Translate and attribution data from Creative Commons. those unlolding events. (Though it should be noted that the 18 Days team
Multiple windows were arrayed on a web page. A video about the Internet have subsequently abandoned Popcorn in favour of their own custom built
played, and as people, places and themes appeared related data were triggered crowdsourcing journalism software 'GroupStre.arn'.)
and windows around the video player showed relevant text and stills. After a year of development work, Popcorn 1.0 was released at November
The demo was clumsy aesthetically, with the numerous on-screen '11's Mozilla Festival in London. The same festival saw the premiere of Kat
windows competing very uneasily for the viewer's attention. But it was an Cizek's One Millionth Tower, a documentary spin-off from the Highrise project,
important proof of concept for a new and potentially significant affordance for made with open-source tools - Popcorn and Web GL, which enables the
web video, as Ingrid Kopp suggested, writing about Popcom.js on the Tribeca interactive generation of 3D graphics. The work was heralded by Mozilla as
Film Institute blog in September 2010: 'the world's first open-source 3D documentary', and simultaneously launched
on the home page of Wired.com - surely a documentary first. One Millionth
the new technology is allowing video to be part of a connected web that Tower allows the viewer/user to explore a 3D environment in which animators
creates links to new sources of information and new methods of inter­ have realized redesign ideas that Toronto tower block residents have devised,
acting with that information [...] We all know that the web is changing working in collaboration with architects. Alongside these examples, the user is
the way we watch films but it is also fundamentally changing the way invited to access related Flickr images, Wikipedia entries and even the current
we can tell stories. weather in Toronto drawn from the Web. In One Millionth Tower, we can
(2010) begin to see what HTML5 might mean for documentary. Reviewing the work
I
on the i-Docs website, Sandra Gaudenzi relates the piece to her concept of
The Director of the Web Made Movies project is film-maker Brett Gaylor who the 'relational object', an idea of the interactive documentary as a nexus of
made, 'rip! A Remix Manifesto', the award-winning 2009 collaborative feature connections, a powerful concept for thinking about semantic video; '[ . . . ] if we
documentary investigation into remix culture and copyright in the digital age. believe that the media is the message', she writes, 'we can also start to see our
Gaylor demonstrated his interest in pursuing the potential of semantic video own world differently. A world where everything is dynamically connected
for the development of cinema aesthetics early on. In September 2010, he and where relations are the bone structure of life' (2011).
proposed a Popcom.js work that would fuse Kuleshov's renowned experiment The documentary made in HrML5 can be continually recontextualized,
in montage with Harris and Karnvar's We Feel Fine. Cheekily entitled, 'Lev's updated and amended, through content drawn in by automatic search engines
alright!', it signalled Gaylor's creative ambitions for Popcorn. In the event, most and APis. This goes far beyond the interactivity that allows users to comment
of the first generation of Popcom.js projects did not push the boundaries of or create their own mashup from the material. Here existing information

165
We're happy and we know it
jon Dovey I Mandy Rose

online can be linked to the video footage. Tweets being sent in a ten-mile the concept of spatial montage to describe the juxtaposition of images within
radius of the video"s location,. Wikipedia entries within the same radius,. blogs multiple computer windows. Manovich defined spatial montage in opposi­
linked by thematized search or newspaper archives from the date of record­ tion to temporal montage, the mode of cutting images into a linear sequence
ing can all be made available to elucidate the video fragment. In The Are You initiated in film editing, which became the dominant practice of twentieth­
Happy? Project experiments with Popcorn Maker, which we will discuss,. it is century moving image culture.
these connections that interest us. While spatial montage is common now in computer-based culture - in
interactive documentary, for example - and there has been a flowering of
multiple screen installations in the art world, creating those juxtapositions in
5. START MAKING SENSE - TOWARDS SEMANTIC DOCUMENTARY computer-based work has until recently involved a process where the visual
The question arises, 'Why is this potential interesting or useful in the field experience of the juxtaposition had to be imagined, planned through story­
of online documentary production?'. Watching work online is, some might boards and wireframes, and brought into being through hard coding by devel­
argue, already difficult enough, and finding it in the first place is already a opers. While it is now technically possible to create multiple streams in various
challenge. Then viewing in a permanently interruptible multiple·windowed desktop-editing systems, this is not everyday expertise. So it is remarkable that
screen with other information ever available at the click of a mouse might be the Popcorn Maker allows you to try out combinations of video and live web
said to challenge the film"s address to its audience. The "documentary' might sources as readily as sketching. In 1948, Alexandre Astruc published his essay
just drown in the sea of "data'. calling for the 'camera-style', a system of cinema that would have the flex­
We argue, however, that there are ways in which these affordances can ibility of the written word. With the emergence of video recording as a func­
address some of the problems of the online viewing environment rather than tion of mobile phones, this vision has been realized in the realm of shooting.
compounding them. These problems have to do with the apparent randomness Popcorn Maker gives a foretaste of how spatial montage that includes types of
of navigation, with the lack of perspective produced by the excess of millions of web data can become a vernacular, a 'camera stylo' for web documentary.
documentary video clips, the dominant temporal logic of online communica­ But what logic should govern the combination of edited video and social
tion that tends towards the perpetually unedited present. The proposition that media fragments drawn in algorithmically? What is the value of combining
our current practice-based research explores is how an online documentary these sources? And what does the interface contribute to the effect of their
might encompass data to .take advantage of the new forms of social knowl­ combination? How does spatial montage affect meaning-making?
edge that are emerging, reflecting community and lived experience that can be It can be argued that the filming process effectively lifts individuals out of
seen and represented (in video), but also making visible alongside that those context, metaphorically deracinating them. As we have observed, documen­
other wider contextuallzing forces (hiding within the data and the Web). tary makers adopt a variety of strategies to address this problem. Beyond the
just over 50 years ago, jean Rouch and Edgar Morin filmed French people street interviews, Chronique d'un Ete can be seen as a series of dialogues that
answering the question, 'Are you happy?' in what became an early sequence illuminate the lives of the main characters through and in relation to various
in the seminal documentary, Chronique d'un Ete (Rouch, 1961). That film contexts - work, family, memory, current events. Semantic video might allow
harnessed the latest sync sound technology to explore the lives of the 'tribe of an alternative response to the challenge of context. In our experiments with
people living in Paris'. The Are You Happy? Project is finding out what happens The Are You Happy? Project, we are harnessing the Popcorn framework to
when we ask the same question in the global environment of the Web today. reinscribe the social and cultural context of the interviews.
Film-makers and enthusiasts have been invited to restage or reinterpret Rouch As described earlier, a number of early experiments with Popcorn involved
and Morin's sequence and upload the results to the video sharing site Vimeo. adding information to finished documentary content. Web pages and Wikipedia
Sequences have now been gathered from diverse locations across the world. entries would appear in windows alongside video, making for uncomfortable,
In the second stage of Chronique d'un Ete, Rouch and Morin followed if not impossible, viewing. Our objective is not to create an informational layer.
a number of individuals across the summer of 1960, staging exploratory Our interest is in the potential for spatial montage, where montage is under­
dialogues about life and society with them, individually and in groups. In the stood in the cinematic sense, as in the "Kuleshov effect', with a third mean­
second stage of The Are You Happy? Project, we are replacing that tempo­ ing being produced through juxtaposition, in the blink of an eye. We have
ral enquiiy with an enquiry across the network of the Web. Using Popcorn therefore customized the Popcorn Maker interface, losing the spaces outlined
Maker, we are juxtaposing the vox pop sequences that have been submitted for other content, so that the video sits within a black surround. A number of
with images and text on related 1themes drawn from social media platforms. sources - Flickr, Twitter, Google Maps - are defined so that they can appear
We also want to choreograph a coherent documentary experience for the user. in spaces around the video, but these destinations are unmarked, so that the
As the Popcorn Maker has just been released at the time of writing, we offer content appears as the next shot appears in a linear edit - unannounced.
some early observations from this work-in-progress. The first experiments are with Twitter. The Are You Happy? Project inter­
Experimenting with the Popcorn Maker on this footage is a quite heady views feature both common themes and noteworthy particularities. In
experience, suggesting an array of creative possibilities and emergent docu­ Mongolia, many people mention 'coun,try', saying, for instance, 'I am happy
mentary poetics. The first shock is that the authoring tool makes the montage to see my country prosper' and 'I am happy I was born in Mongolia'. But
of video and content from the live Web, side-by-side within a screen, as what does this mean to the viewer who knows little about Mongolia? It is not
easy as cutting two images together in sequence in iMovie. This in itself is self-evident. The words alone do not tell you what is happening there politi­
a revelation. It is over a decade now since Manovich (2001) came up with cally or economically, or where these sentiments might sit on a spectrum from

166
jon Dovey 1 Mandy Rose We're happy and we know it

postcolonial relief through national pride to rampant nationalism. Pulling in they are on-screen simultaneously. So we plan to explore alternative ways of
Tweets tagged Mongolia alongside the video can play a significant role here. incorporating Twitter. What would the effect be if the fra>ne filled with the
�Gobi Mega-mine puts Mongolia on brink of worlds biggest resource boom�. micro-posts for a few seconds before the video started to play? What would it
�Mongolia cuts short Dalai Lama lecture tour under China pressure'. Tweets be like to replace the main video image with tweets at certain points? The idea
offer considerable information in a few words. is to use the text in a creative tension with the video rather than as explanation,
Asked in diverse cultural contexts, the question �Are you happy?' elic­ to combine word and image in the spirit of Godard rather than current affairs.
its revealing particularity, such as this, but also gathers certain universal Working with visuals - combining edited video with Flickr images -
responses. People everywhere say that happiness comes from family, chil­ immediately feels fruitful and less problematic than text. The interviews
dren, grandchildren. It might seem that we ale all the sa>ne. Playing a twit­ produced by John Ba>ry in Trinidad for Are You Happy? ale dominated by spir­
ter feed alongside the video disrupts this cosy impression. A twitter search ituality and Christian imagery. For these Caribbean interviewees, happiness
on �Mongolia' and 'children' produces micro-narratives behind which lie is inextricably linked with the presence, absence and search for God. When
economic hardship and deprivation. Some Mongolian children are clearly an inteiViewee in Trinidad mentions the church, we tag the video 'Trinidad'
adopted out of the country. Street children ale a social challenge. Life is very and 'church', and pictures from the photo-shaling website Flickr ale called
different from that in the United Kingdom. Video creates an illusion of near­ up. This has an interesting effect. If one illustrated the word church with one
ness, of similarity. Juxtaposing that with web data can reinscribe specificity, church, this might be so literal as to be comic. The profusion of churches that
difference. is called up produces quite another effect. The catalogue of grand bulldings
However, experimenting with Twitter also entails editorial and aesthetic dominating the landscape and images of rapt worshippers speak of history,
challenges. Incorporating written social media content into a global project power and awe. To borrow a term from the work of anthropologist Oifford
is problematic. First and foremost, social media platforms are not universally Geertz, this 'thickens' the visual/auditory 'description' provided by the video.
accessible and uptake is very uneven. There is also an issue of language. While This is the work that the director generally does in making a documenta.y -
there are Twitter comments available in Mongolian, for example, a system for through in-depth inteiViews, shot selection, cut-aways, voice-over. Here that
live translation is not. For now, the experiment is with tweets in English, bear­ work is eo-created, and left somewhat to chance. The stills have been created
ing in mind that these are likely not to be indigenous content. by authors not known to us, who have uploaded and tagged their images,
From an aesthetic perspective, tweets work well playing alongside visual and made them available through a Creative Commons license. We have
sequences, but The Are You happy? Project is mostly sync sound interviews, and identified themes in the filmed content and tagged the videos accordingly.
neither tweets nor subtitled content get the viewer attention they need when

Figure 2: Interviewee in Mongolia with Flickr images from 'The Are You Happy?
Figure 1 : Tweets about Mongolia from 'The Are You Happy? Project'. Project'.

168 169
]on Dovey 1 Mandy Rose
We're happy and we know it

The images are then drawn in through an algorithm. As the Flickr feed is will be challenged. In this domain, the user experience of a body of documen­
live, the particular juxtaposition of still and video is left open, introducing tary material may change from person to person and moment to moment.
an element of unpredictability. That this eo-creation is productive is a value The exact nature of the experience will emerge from the interaction between
judgement that people may disagree over. The random quality will, however, the search terms active in the text and whatever is available online to respond
be an aesthetic feature of HfML5 documentary, and deserves further consid­ to them. In this sense, the documentary becomes a more open text, avail­
eration, which space does not allow here. able to polyvocal annotation, its authority to name the world replaced by an
The crowd-sourced Flickr images then add context and texture to the video understanding that namin� definin� arguing is always an encounter that is
content. The fact that they sit side-by-side, that they are montaged in space, relational, contingent, specific and emergent.
plays a part in what effect that has. For Manovich, temporal montage repre­
sents 'a logic of displacement', while spatial montage represents 'a logic of
addition and co-existence'. In the Trinidadian example, the images of places REFERENCES
and people drawn in from Flickr do not replace the interviewee on the screen. Bolter, Jay and Grusin, Richard (1999), Remediation: Understanding New Media,
They are alongside her, with her, placing her in a cultural context. Thus, we Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press, pp. 20-51.
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environment. http://www.ctheory.netlarticles.aspx?id�651. Accessed 3 July 2012.
Dovey, Jon (2000), Freakshuw, London: Pluto Press.
Dovey, Jon and Rose, Mandy (2012), '"This great mapping of ourselves - new
7. CONCLUSION documentary forms online', in Brian Winston (ed.), The BFI Companion to
The conclusions for the arguments and speculations in this article are contin­ Documentary, London: Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming 2012).
gent on the results of further experimentation with Popcorn. However, we Diamond, Sara (2010), 'Lenticular Galaxies: The Polyvalent Aesthetics of Data
have established here the start of a process which, we argue, will transform Visualisation' in Code Drift: Essays in Critical Digital Studies, CTheory.net,
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mobilizing the enormous eo-creative potential of human discourse captured Manovich Lev (ed.), The Language of New Media, Cambridge, USA: The
in the Web. It offers the potential for new ways to construct argument and MITPress.
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However, we are also cautious and careful. For our aspiration to be real­ orgl2011/091081the-i-doc-as-a-relational-object/. Accessed 3 July 2012.
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I
jon Dovey 1 Mandy Rose We're happy and we know it

Mozilla (2011), 'The Mozilla blog', http://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2011/11/05/ Mandy Rose is a senior research fellow at the Digital Cultures Research
popcorn -1 -0-launch-and-world -premier-of-one-millionth -tower/. Centre, University of the West of England. Her practice-based research looks
Accessed 3 July 2012. at the intersection between documentary and the social, semantic and open
Nichols, Bill (1991), Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary, Web. Mandy has devised and overseen a number of award-winning interac­
Indiana: Indiana University Press, pp. 3-4. tive and participatory projects. She was eo-founder and producer of BBC2's
O'Reilly, Tim (2005), 'What is Web 2.0?', http://oreilly.com/pub/alweb2/ 'mass obseiVation' camcordet project - Video Nation (94-2000), Executive
archive/what-is-web-20.hbnl?page=3. Accessed 17 October 2011. Producer of Capture Wales (2001-2007), a pioneering digital storytelling
-- (2011), Strata: Making Data Work Conference, New York, 1-3 February, project in the United Kingdom. She devised Voices (2004) - a major pan­
http://strataconf.com/strata2011/publicicfp/122. Accessed 6 December platform collaborative exploration of language, accent and dialect across the
2011. United Kingdom (Webby nominated) and MyScienceFictionLife (2006) - a
Popcorn Demo, '18 Days in Egypf, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4 collective history of British science fiction (Webby Honoree). Mandy's work as
YLxDLEGJN4. (2011) Accessed 3 July 2012. a director includes Meeting the Mnsai Mob (BBC 2, 2001) and the series Pictures
Popova, Maria (2009), 'We Feel Fine review', http://www.brainpicklngs.org/ in the Post (BBC 2, 1999). Mandy blogs at CollabDocs (http://collabdocs.
index.php/2009/12/03/we-feel-fine-book/. Accessed 6 December 2011. wordpress.coml) and is a contributing editor to the i-Docs website (http://i­
Rebellious Pixels (2010), 'Right Wing Radio Duck', http://www.rebelliouspixels. docs.org/).
com/semanticremixl. Accessed 3 July 2012.
E-mail: mandy.rose@uwe.ac.uk
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)on Dovey and Mandy Rose have asserted their right under the Copyright,
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Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the authors of this work in
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SUGGESTED CITATION
Dovey, ). and Rose, M. (2012), 'We're happy and we know it: Documentary,
data, montage', Studies in Documentary Film, 6: 2, pp. 159-173, doi: 10.1386/
sdi.6.2.159_1.

CONTRIBUTOR DETAILS
Jon Dovey is Professor of Screen Media at the University of the West of
England. He is the Director of the Digital Cultures Research Centre (http://
www.dcrc.org.uk/). He also heads up REACT, the AHRC Creative Economy

Hub for Wales and the West that aims to connect arts research with the
Creative Economy. He was a film-maker and video artist before becoming
an academic. He has been working with Mandy Rose and the i-Docs team at
DCRC; see more at http://i-docs.org/. He is the author of Freakshmvs - First
Person Media and Factual TV (Pluto Press, July 2000) and a co-author of New
Media - A Critical Introduction (Routledge, 2002/2008). He is also co-author of
Game Cultures (McGraw Hill, 2006).
Contact: Digital Cultures Research Centre, University of the West of
England, PeiVasive Media Studio,. Watershed Media Centre, 1, Canons Road,
Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5TX.
E-mail: jonathan.dovey@uwe.ac.uk

172 173
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© 2on lntellect Ltd Article. English l anguage. d oi: 10.1386/sdf.6.2.175_1

MARTIN RIESER
De Montfort University

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Authors h i p a n d G e n re i n from I
This article principally examines two projects: Codes of Disobedience &
Dysfunctionality and Urban Digital Narratives undertaken in the spring and
mobile media
trails
P h otoj o u r n a l i s m a n d F i l m summer 2011 in central Athens, which comprise an attempt to document a city at interactive
the centre of the European financial firestorm by using the direct voices of local documentary
By Philippe D. Mather people, through easily accessed locative markers using mobile phones. The locative collective reporting
ISBN 978-I·ilA 1S0·611· 1 j Paperback I LJK £14.95 1 LJSS30 projects were undertaken as public engagement workshops using inner city street citizen politics
locations, where personal stories were constructed and developed by volunteers using Greece
Empedia software' to create trails triggered by GPS or QR codes. A series of video
From 1945 to 1950, during the formative years of his career, Stanley
scenes, based on documentary experiences of place and the communities in Athens, l. Developed for iphones
Kubrick worked as a photojournalist for Look magazine. Offering a
were fleetingly revealed at different positions in the chosen streets by the public by De Montfort
comprehensive examination of the work he produced during this period, University and
scanning QR codes on posters and stickers (visually related to either local people or
Stanley Kubrick at Look Magazine sheds new light on the aesthetic and Cuttlefish Multimedia
places) with their mobile phones. during a Knowledge
ideological factors that shaped his artistic voice. Transfer Partnership,
which deal with
information in the field
Tracing the links between his photojournalism and films, Mather
The widespread adoption of technologies that facilitate social activity using a combination
shows how working at Look fostered Kubrick's emerging talent of authored and user·
among prospective users influences community dynamics and intro­
generated content, see
for combining images and words to tell a story. Mather then To view our catalogue or duces the emergence of unique social interactions. The city is augmented www.empediainfo
demonstrates how exploring these links enhances our understanding our books and journals through multidirectional processes. Digital information is embedded in
of Kubrick's approach to narrative structure - as well as his distinctive persistent architectural forms (the built environment), yet at the same
combinations of such genres as fiction and documentary, and fantasy time, environmental representations of the urban settings are being
and realism. Intellect, The Mill, p,,n,ll R<l displayed on the screens of mobile communications devices.
Fishponds, Bristol, BS1.63J GI (Hybrid City Conference Catalogue, Athens, 2011)

PHIUPPE D. MATHER is an associate professor of media studies Tel: +44 {o) 117 9589910

at Campion College at the University of Regina. Fax: +4'' (o) 117 9589911
175
Martin Rieser
Locative voices and cities in crisis

2. Curator Daphne INTRODUCTION Athens, and whether the patterns and characteristics of urban life could be 4. The international
Dragona and workshop entitled
participating organizer Karlis Kalnins coined the phrase 'locative media' as the title for a workshop identified by adapting the uses of these communication systems?
Locative Media
Dimitris Charitos hosted by RIXC, an electronic art and media center in Lalvia during 2002. focusing on
(University of Athens), GPS, mapping
technical support from Whilst locative media is closely related to augmented reality (reality overlaid THE PARADIGM
and positioning
Phil Sparks (Cuttlefish with virtual reality) and to pervasive computing; locative media concentrates As computing leaves the desktop and spills out onto the sidewalks, streets and technologies took
Multimedia) and jackie
on social interaction with a specific place through mobile technology. Hence, place from l6 to 26 July
Calderwood (Ph .D. public spaces of the city, we increasingly find information-processing capacity 2003 at the K@2 Culture
Candidate De Montfort many locative media projects have a background in social, critical or personal embedded within, and distributed throughout the material fabric of everyday and Information Centre
University), additional memory. In this article I will describe attempts to use location-specific media in urban space. Ubiquitous computing evangelists have heralded a coming age on an abandoned
technical support military installation in
Haris Rizopoulos, documentary contexts, both as a researcher's tool and a way to bring contem­ of urban infrastructure capable of sensing and responding to the events and liepaja on the coast of
Aris Tsakoumis porary documentary stories alive for the new technologically aware public. activities transpiring around them. Imbued with the capacity to remember, the Baltic Sea.
(University of Athens), These two pilots investigated appropriate forms of content and delivery for
see, empedia.info/ correlate and anticipate, this near-future 'sentient' city is envisioned as being s. The Urban Tapestries
maps/41and http// locative textual, aural and visual media to animate urban landscapes through capable of reflexively monitoring its environment and our behaviour within it, software platform
globalgatewayproject. the development of a shared contemporary archive, and should ultimately becoming an active agent in the organization of everyday life in urban public allows people to
eu/codes-of­ author their own
help us to ·evaluate the public uses of such systems and the reactions of users. space. However, even the use of passive, simple code-based technologies can
disobedience­ virtual annotations
disfunctionality/ In doing so, we attempted to establish the best forms of open source website, give agency to the public and create a new type of embedded history, which in of the city, enabling a
updating and distributing multi-authored locative documentary through the community's collective
3. Curation, organization these projects represents a very different form of 'sentience'. memory to grow
and research: Eva Empedia platform. It was intended as a demonstrator of the potential for loca­ Our mental representations of cities are necessarily complex, and to me it organically, allowing
Kekou (Freelance) tive and Web technologies combined with collaborative documentation in the ordinary citizens
Organization:
seems problematic for artists to merely map literal representations back onto
field, in creating knowledge networks mapped to topography. Contextually to embed social
Athens Information space using locative technologies, but this appears to have been the predomi­ knowledge in the new
Technology College relevant 'texts' were annotated through appropriate forms of aural and visual nant practice of many early projects such as the first Locative Media workshop wireless landscape of r
(AIT), Technical support: inscription for interpretation in the field using locative triggers. A key objec­ the city.
Jackie Calderwood (2003)' and Urban Tapestries (2002-2004).5 Research into spatial representation
(Ph.O. candidate De tive at the project end will be to evaluate user behaviours and reactions to shows how mental maps create subjective distortion, describing not space, but
Montfort University), both interface and content - this is still work in progress, but we anticipate the objects or nodes in it, and so our inner representations appear to be a direct
Financial support The
British Council, lntalot
interest in these pilots from·a range of public institutions. contradiction to the continuous Euclidian 'space between' of a (Google) map,
and HTC and see The aims of the two 2011 Athens-based workshops were to study elements which is the dominant trope of the age of GPS (Tversky et al. 1999). The projects
http//empedia.info/ of the urban environment and to create new locative trails in the form of a
organisations/digital_
described are an attempt to view the city as a series of markers, landmarks and
urban_narraUves/maps structured collaborative narrative, enrichingthe city through interactive content human presences, rather than as an abstract representation of space.
which reflected its contemporary transformations. Codes of Disobedience &
Dysfunctionality2 was part of the Hybrid City Conference initiative, spon­
sored by Global Gateway. Inspired by the numerous posters and the dense
graffiti encountered in the city centre, the workshop cmmected the urban
surroundings of Athens to opinions and statements of its inhabitants towards
the challenges imposed by current social, political and financial circum­
stances, namely: anger, disobedience, opposition and dysfunctionality. The
features of the contemporary metropolis in the midst of a period of crisis were
the main focus of the project, posing at the same time questions about the
role of and scale of mediation by technology in urban everyday life. The work
formed after the completion of the workshop was presented at the premises
of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, on the Internet and
in the centre of the city (on the streets Skoufa-Navarinou-Tzavela). QR coded
stickers, carrying imagery from the immediate environment, were placed in
selected locations and by scanning them with a mobile phone, access to the _.... ..._...
audio-visual material, created duHng the workshop, was accessible to the j--...--
public. Combining elements of installation art, urban intervention, gaming ' ......
i_'lll_ ..,...,.
and performance, Codes of Disobedience & Dysfunctionality reflected my
i-....... -­
, ..,�---
long-term practice using art and technology. A couple of months later, Urban
Digital Narratives3 1ooked at the crisis of immigration and gentrification in the :-�·--
'
.,,.,,,4,*"'--�·�--� '-""

Gazi area and the impacts of neo-liberal economic processes on the locally
diverse social and ethnic groups. Funded by the British Council, the project
explored the new possibilities offered by technology and attempted to ask
whether one could really capture the social needs and attitudes of in city like
Figure 1: Codes of Disobedience, The trail online ©Martin Rieser.

176
177

ll
Martin Rieser Locative voices and cities in crisis

6. Mobile Bristol is In western art's historical tradition, the rendering of landscape has not only story trail along Old Street and Shoreditch High Street, accessible through a 8. See http//www.
a professional!y elucidated the relationship between beauty, aesthetic pleasure and the represen­ user's mobile phone. It mapped both the trnaginary underground world of the youtube.com/
co-ordinated team of watch?v=ltxmjJVFWk
business and academic tation of the nahrral world, but has also made visible systems of power, control. Riverains and layers of London's history onto the urban landscape. Through
researchers from domination and surveillance. New media technologies, such as GPS , digital text messaging, 'Layar' Augmented Reality, GPS location sensing and QR
Hewlett Packard,
data visualization and sanification, can potentially reformulate and expand the barcode code reading, participants could use their mobile phone to discover
Bristol University, UWE
and digital product possibilities for representing 'nature' and 'environment' by altering, first, the a hidden underground world, which corresponded to real locations on Old
experts The Appliance ways we conceptualize and experience our bodily relationship in the urban Street and Shoreditch High Street. Participants could hear the Riveralns'
Studio, http://www.
mobilebristol.co.uk/ landscape, and second, our treatment of landscape as 'object' or 'picture', and voices at sixteen sites and fully experience their video narratives.
QueenSq.html third, through our sense of landscape as a repository of history; as an inhuman Riverains was first commissioned as an experimental concept work by the
7. See httpJ/empedia. body that is marked, scarred, or massively reshaped by the passage of human B'tween Festival in Manchester, in 2008 8 It was then piloted in London at the
info/maps/20 and geological time. Artworks that use technologies such as GPS have trans­ lliumini Festival in Shoreditch in September 2010. Riveralns approached local
formed landscape from a 'picture' into a multi-layered, multi-channel experi­ history by creating a multi-user story space accessible throUgh mobile phones,
ence, often incorporating multiple sense modalities and extending beyond the which collaboratively mapped an trnaginary world and a city's history onto an
instant into a highly durational, expanded spatia-temporal field. Such projects urban landscape. Riverains were imagined as souls tied to watery energies,
were usually artworks with strong documentary features and were predicated running under our cities in rivers, cables, sewers, tunnels and caves. They could
on this new sense of embodied representation of the urban landscape. travel unseen by these invisible routes and cluster around sites of their past expe­
The use of locative media in documentary contexts is not new, but in the rience. Through GPS and QR code reading, participants were encouraged to use
past has relied heavily on customized equipment and live project guides. their mobile phone like a douser, to discover this hidden world, which corre­
I can think of the early examples of Riot!' (2004) from Mobile Bristol, which sponded to real underground locations aligned with the sites of past events.
depicted the Bristol Riots of 1831. This first GPS-enabled locative drama was Both Manchester and London have rich underground worlds of hidden
an immersive and powerful experience, engaging with the immediate spaces or 'lost' rivers, nuclear fallout facilities and command centres and Second
of history, mapped onto a Georgian square where the original events took World War bunkers, in addition to Victorian sewers and underground rail­
place. Jeff Knowlton, Jeremy Hight and Naomi Spellman's 34n118w (flight way systems. They also have an archaeology going back through medieval
2002) dealt with a similar historical hinterland in LA and used locative media to Roman times. The Riverains were drawn from this rich history of poverty,
to 'read' a space with GPS and other wireless technology, examining the many industrial revolution, immigration, political protest, commerce and innova­
layers of city spaces. To quote Hight: tion, gang warfare and· crime. Once piloted, the project planned to map video
and photo-stories across central areas of other cities.
The story world becomes one of juxtaposition, of overlap, of layers Riverains was run in Pilot form at the lllumini Festival in September
appearing and falling away. Place becomes a multi-tiered and malle­ 2010 tracing a portion of Old Street and Shoreditch High Street. 'Secret
able concept.
(2003)

Marking narrative triggers through locative media, both projects drew multi­
ple lines from archaeology, fiction, archltectrue and design across the urban
terrain, but these projects tended to deal with an historical past rather than
the lived present. Newer projects such as Heygate Lives (2010), which was a
student-led iphone project in the area of Elephant and Castle, London, made
for a more immediate contemporary documentary engagement on publically
available technology. The Heygate estate was due to be demolished in winter
2010 and had been emptying of residents since 2008. A few months before
itsfull demolition the students organized a tour of the estate to run on an
iPhone. Using the GPS capabilities of the device, Heygate Lives sensed the
participant's location and stream�d a pre-recorded video corresponding to
that location. As Sandra Gaudenzi observes in her forthcoming Ph.D. thesis:

Heygate Lives is a locative narrative that uses a branching navigation: the


story does not unfold if the user is not physically in the spot that gives
meaning to the narrative.
(Gaudenzi 2010)

Our own precursor for the Athens projects was Riverains} similarly executed
in a London venue in the same year as Heygate Lives. Riverains created a Figure 2: Riverains on Empedia platfonn showing media locations ©Martin Rieser.

178 179
Martin Rieser Locatlve voices and cities in crisis

from considered diegesis to continuous and automatic present; where the user g. There are several
'people's parks' that
creating the narratives becomes both subject and object, in a new form of pan­
cinema. Paul Virilio uses the example of Michel Klier, and his film Der Riese/
were squatted by locals
to thwart the city's
The Giant (1984) in materializing the change of the function of the cameraman plan to turn them into
in the film . The film is a montage of images that are recorded by automatic
parking lots.

surveillance cameras in German cities, and their major public places. Klier
himself held this video to be the end of his art. This is according to Virillo,
because the visual subject has been transferred to a technical effect, which
Figure 3: Riverains workshop Interaction in Shoreditch. Photo: Jackie Calderwood. forms a sort pancinema, which turns our most ordinary acts into movie action,
into new visual material. This means to Virillio the culmination of the progress
Subterranean London' was the third Illumini event, curated by Jane Webb, of representational technologies, of their military, scientific and investigative
and located in the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall. Over 50 artists/artist instrumentalisation over the centuries (1994).
groups exhibited and performed during the week-long festival, which also In our tvvo described projects we have tried to unpack some of the tacit
included guided underground tours, artist talks and workshops. Over 3300 assumptions, latent biases and hidden agendas at play behind the new and
people attended the opening evening, Thursday 9 September 2010, and 9247 emerging urban infrastructures and to avoid the de-naturing of the content
people in total visited Illumini during the whole week's event. through the technology employed. Codes of Disobedience took an emblematic
Riverains at Illumini was designed to comprise four elements, offering street in central Athens running from the fashionable Kolanaki district down
interaction to users with varying levels of technical requirement (users were towards the centre of resistance to the austerity measures, crossing the site of
expected to provide their own mobile phone). The work built on Riverains' the Shrine to Alexander Grigoropoulou, the boy who was shot by the police
development for Manchester's B'tween festival, extending it through collabo­ which set off the riots of December 2008, on the corner of Mesolongiou, now
ration with artists Ximena Alarcon and Kasia Molga, with technical develop­ unofficially renamed Alexander Grigoropoulou Street and Tzabella Street, and
ment by Sean Oark and Phll Sparks (Empedia by Cuttlefish Multimedia) and on to the anarchistic regions of the city where early self-curated social projects
Gareth Howell (using Layar). Two 'guided walks' followed in which partici­ posited a communal alternative to the new austerity.9
pants were supported in using the QR code reader version, and Layar (for
those with suitable phones), as they followed the trail along Old Street and
Shoreditch High Street. Those without appropriate phones were able to share
the experience using spare iPhones during the walks. Riverains was aimed at
the broad spectrum Illumini audience.
The video pieces by Alarcon and Rieser were either triggered by photo­
graphing QR codes distributed on stickers along the route, carrying visual clues
as to locations associated with the video content. While encouraging audiences
to download in advance in areas of free WiFi, the 3G downloads took no more
than a minute and in fact began streaming almost instantly. The Layar version
was equally successful and it is hoped that the next incarnation will fully develop
all the intended game elements and the user software to upload further stories.
As it was, the rich history of Shoreditch was explored with pieces on early
Shakespeare using imagined voices of characters or actors from the plays Henry
W and Romeo and Juliet; verbatim readings from the coroner's report of the
'Ripper' murder of Mary Kelly: held in the Town Hall site of the exhibition,
with interjections by the Ripper's imagined persona; inunigrant voices from
Jewish, Huguenot and contemporary narratives were available, as were reflec­
tions on the Plague in London, created in dramatised monologues based on
Daniel Defoe'sJournal ofthePlague Year. Suffragette histories became audio-visual
sound-image montages echoing their treatment in Holloway Prison. Finally
there were reflections on the early history of underground rivers that criss-cross
the area and notionally held the historical presences, which are the Riverains.
From this pilot we went on directly to develop a more abrasive, contem­
porary and collaborative documentary form in the Greek context. One of the
problematics we had identified from Riverains was the self-consciousness of
phone use in public and the complex relationship users had to interacting
with materials in the street. Perhaps part of the general problem with this
new mobile documentation is the one identified by Virilio - that of the change Figure 4: Codes of Disobedience: QR Code Sticker examples ©Martin Rieser.

180 181
Martin Rieser
Locative voices and cities in crisis

In Athens, home to almost half of Greece's 11 million-strong population, culture of the Navarino end of the street) to the hilarious-satirizing the Greek
the signs of austerity - and poverty - are everywhere: in the homeless Orthodox church's obsession with barcodes as 'works of the devil'. In addi­
and hungry who forage through municipal rubbish bins late at night; in tion, at the gentrified Kolonaki end of the street virtual graffiti was re-imposed
the cash-strapped pensioners who pick up rejects at the street markets on walls where it had been previously painted out. In both projects the link
that sell fruit and vegetables; in the shops now boarded and closed and between the stickers and posters to the place is crucial. We were attempting to
in the thousands of ordinary Greeks who can no longer afford to take get the participants to revisit the textures and the faces of the location in great
family outings or regularly eat meat. detail, to notice the texture and uniqueness of each place, to re-imagine the
(Helena Smith, The Guardian, 13th May 2011) city as a place of potential and beauty through the energies of the everyday.
The intention was to reapply some of the earliest felicities of documentary
With the Greek response to the austerity measures of the Papandreou govern­ practice to the new fragmented genres of micro-documentary, as is vividly
ment in mind, we asked passers by: explained in this quote from artist Duncan Speakman:

'Do they see disobedience as a positive or negative issue?' Grierson described documentary as 'the creative treatment of actual­
ity', films like 'Nightmail' and 'Coal Face' seem so far removed from the
'How has their life been affected in the last months?'
type of 'documentary' that fills our screens today. They took everyday
'What forces them (if anything) to disobey?' realities and framed then within beautiful soundtracks, creative musi­
cal editing techniques, poetry and abstraction. I guess that's the kind of
'Is it a matter of ideology, of severe economic difficulties?'
docwnentary I'm trying to make, ones that show us nothing more than
'Has it perhaps become a lifestyle choice?' the everyday, but try and show us how beautiful it can be.
(Watson 2010)
'What would they wtite on the walls?'

In his book The Practice of Everyday Life, Michel de Certeau defines urban
Stories emerged through many such street encounters and also through delib­
space according to the patterns of those who use it. He suggests that ' . . . space
erative interviews '\vith local workers, including a surviving traditional plumber,
is composed of intersections of mobile elements. It is in a sense actuated by
a street vegetable stall-holder and the owner of a juggling emporium! Other
the ensemble of movements deployed within it . .. In short, space is a prac­
narratives were more generic, ranging from the serious (examining the drug
liced place' (1984). This very much became our starting point for the project,
since the disbict was a deeply patterned space defined by the proximity and
distance of its mixed communities. Digital Urban Narratives was realized

Figure 5: Codes of Disobedience at The Shrine to Alexander Grigoropoulou showing Figure 6: Outside the Juggling Emporium-showing poster and sticker in use.
both sticker and poster in situ ©Martin Rieser. ©Martin Rieser.

182
Martin Rieser Locative voices and cities in crisis

of entertairunent zones and we saw phenomena of arbitrary and ruthless 10. The majority of the
Christian community
commercialization by wrrestrained private developers, instead of the crea­
consists of elderly
tion of well-planned residential areas for the middle classes. The displace­ people, who claim that
ment of local inhabitants appeared as a clear trend,10 but in the long run most of their friends
and former neighbours
it did not prove particularly advantageous for the upper middle class and
have left the area
their aspirations; instead, it created profits for short-term speculators and because they could not
especially, the owners of nightspots and black economy enterprises. tolerate the loud noise
from clubs during the
(Tzirtzilaki 2011) night hours.

At first the workshop progressed happily, with its very mixed group of partici­
pants from design, architectural and arts backgrounds - some experienced
practitioners and some post-graduate students. Multiple and complex narra­
tives were recorded in audio-visual form, sourced from all the disparate social
groups in the neighbourhood, who were photographed and interviewed after
giving consent. It was only during the final stage of the project when QR code
stickers featuring video story characters were posted up in the neighbourhood
south of the metro, that one elderly Greek's wife objected vociferously to his
image being made public and forcibly made a citizen's arrest on a participating
film-maker! This was in spite of the subject having given consent. It revealed
a deep well of suspicion and anger and a community closed against outsider
interventions, no matter however well-intentioned. Although an isolated inci­
dent in an otherwise successful project, it showed how close to the surface hurt
Figure 7: Urban Digital Narratives: Kyra Koula Tripolemou, Shopkeeper
and suspicion exists in these challenged and displaced traditional communities.
©Martin Rieser.
However, the population composition in Metaxourgio is still rather mixed.
through a collaborative workshop in the Gazi-Keramikos district of Athens,
Old residents with a working class background reside in the antiparohi
which constructed a locative route via collaboration with another mixed group
buildings next to immigrants. The members of the Roma minority live in
of students and architects, artists, photographers, video-makers and computer
scientists from Athens Institute of Technology (AIT). the low-rise, not well malntalned buildings, while the high class gentri­
fiers renovate architecturally interesting buildings. The bohemian gentri­
The chosen area of Gazi-Keramikos was a very mixed inner city area, where
. .fi.ers either live in aparhnents next to immigrants and old residents, or in
gentrification had created a pleasure zone of clubs and cafes surrounded by
the well-maintained pichrresque housing stock. The Chinese community
established artisan communities and migrant communities to the north. These
has developed and many Orinese shops have opened in the area, mainly
disparate elements faced multiple problems, above all - a sense of powerless­
specializing on clothing trade, designating parts of the area as the Chinatown
ness in the face of the ill-formed status for recent migrants and of displace­
ment by rising property prices and rents in the south of the area, together with
ofAthens, while many Arabic dells and restaurants are in close proximity.
(Tzirtzilaki 2011)
an influx of noisy and youthful revellers, with hedonistic values into conserva­
tive working neighbourhoods.
It is a striking feature of the area that the playground of affluent young
Naturally tensions were created between these disparate groups, and we
Athenians, lies cheek by jowl with successive immigrant waves and the tradi­
found an underlying reactive anger in the settled Greek community, which
tional white Greek remnants.
compromised the project in its final stages. Lakhou Street traverses the area
It is not surprising that Athens has recently become the focus of resistance
around the metro station. It had been radically transformed during the previ­
to the imposition of draconian nee-liberal disciplines on its economy and that
ous five years, with old buildings, houses and warehouses being converted
it remains the flashpoint for any fuhrre European economic crisis and the space
into modem bars, cafes. Leonidou Street still maintained a residential char­
where the contradictions of the market and its effects on the contemporary
acter. By succeeding Lakhou Str�et and traversing the neighbourhoods of
city appear in their acutest form. The uses of dlgital technology can highlight,
Keramikos and Metaxourgio, it helped us trace the transformation in urban
augment and interpret these contradictions, giving voice to the dispossessed,
character along its length, almost in the form of a history.
though ultimately their solution remains a political one.
While media arts using locative tools have naturally tended towards urban
After the Olympic games and given the absence of a program or
environments and been drawn from ei�er game or Situationist orientations, I
plan to answer the pressing issues of a Mediterranean metropolis in
am more concerned to develop a theory and practice of situated and embod­
transformation, the centre was almost abandoned to its fate. As a result,
ied arts related to a broader spectrum of ambulant practice, referencing back­
for many years now, the city has resembled a ship tossed helplessly on
wards to the earlier art forms, but making use of the new digital affordances.
stormy seas. As central Athens grew in the characteristic marmer of a
What I think we could postulate now is that there exist two domains of locative
disordered Mediterranean city, the market forces privileged the creation

184 185

..:::::.._
. .:...-_
Martin Rieser Locative voices and cities in crisis

� �
practice-the digital tame of social media, online consumer culture and most from different locations. Due to its geography� the city of Athens was to
digital arts, and the 'wild' where addressing critical conditions in the 'real' become one of the main entrances of migrants directed towards Europe.
world - poverty� disempowerment and engaged locatedness - have yet to find Once more, we see the creation of gathering places, coffee shops and
a meaningful voice in pervasive digital media. The two projects may have had groceries, restaurants� Internet points and phone call centres. By contrast�
a flawed documentary methodology� given the imperatives of time and their there is still no official reception policy for immigrants and asylum seek­
combined artistic direction, but they were genuine attempts to document and ers. All they are faced with is a system of brutal arbitrariness.
present local voices in as unfiltered a way as was possible. (Alexandri 2009)
Gazi in particular gave rise to resonant examples of inner city migrant
lives. One boy found pushing a supermarket trolley filled with scrap was !iter· As I write, a technocratic imposition of austerity has been imposed on Greece�
ally marooned. His father had died in India the week before. He had no pass· ignoring the democratic call of the now deposed Papandreou for a referendum
port, home, relatives or other means to earn his living. His narrative contrasts on further austerity measures, which� no matter how calculated his call, laid
cruelly with typically upbeat travel guide information: bare the nahrre of the EU project and its real imperatives. The stories collected
during the two projects are a snapshot of a country whose basic systems are
In recent years the Gazi has been repaired, restored and re-established breaking down, where dysfunctionality and resistance are the emerging urban
as an entertainment district due to its proximity within the center of behaviours in a broad swathe of the public.
Athens. This transformation has brought an influx of art exhibits, musical As Jordan Crandell speaks of the new 'computational culture', described as 'a
festivals, and numerous bars and restaurants to the area. Gazi is home machine-aided process of disciplinary attentiveness, embodied in practice, that
to the Technopolis which is a 30,000 square meter industrial museum of is bound up within the demands of a new production and security regime'.
modem architecture that plays host to many different kinds of exhibi­ The challenge in this Brave New World
tions throughout the year. In the past ten years, Gazi has also become
the gay village of Athens which was formerly located in Kolonaki and . . . is not only to endeavour to understand this operational construct,
Syngrou Avenue. Gazi is an up and coming neighborhood that contin­ but to understand the forms of opposition to it that are emerging in
ues to grow in population as the area continues to be reformed and new the globalized world. For the operational is oniy one 'window' onto
more expensive housing is built. reality. There are other orientations that counter it, and for which� by
(The History of Gazi 2011) its very nahrre, it is unable to account. It is powerless to envision terms
of engagement that do not operate according to its logics. It can only
The history is further complicated by a complex clash of inunigration policies. assign them to the realm of the barbaric or irrational: that which lies
In the 1970s Muslims were seen as a source of cheap Labour, outside of its license on reason.
(Crandell 2011)
During the 1970s the governing dictatorship decided to employ Muslims
from Northem Greece to the Gas factory. These were the first Muslims REFERENCES
to reside in the area; they rented abandoned houses, whose land­ Alexandri, Georgia (2009), 'The gas district gentrification story', Master's
lords had left the area. However, the existence of an ethnic minority thesis of Science in Sustainability, Planning and Envirorunental Policy,
led to further outward migration of the local population. Additionally, University of Athens, Greece
during the 1980s the social - democrat party (PASOK), which was in Crandell, Jordan (2005), 'Operational media', 1 June, CTheory, c theory.net.
power, offered ethnic minorities the opporhmity to work for the public Accessed 21 November 2011.
sector. Hence, many Greek Muslims migrated to Athens, and rented de Certeau, Michel (1984), The Practice ofEveryday Life, Berkeley: University of
abandoned buildings in the Gas neighbourhood, in order to gain prox­ California Press.San Francisco,USA
imity to the existing Muslim community. Gaudenzi, Sandra (2010), 'The experiential documentary through the lenses
(Alexandri 2009) of the live documentary', Interactive Documentary: TllWards an Aesthetic of
the Multiple, chapter 6, http://www.interactivedocumentary.net/about/me/.
Whereas in the 2000s Greece became a soft entry point for migrants and asylum Accessed November 2011.
seekers from Afghanistan and Iraq,, whose right to entry in the European Union Hight, Jeremy (2003), 'Narrative Archaeology', Summer, Streetnotes, http://
led to Greece being used as a catchment with no exit and no government aid. www.xcp.bfn.org/hight.html. Accessed July 2005.
Smith, Helena (2011), 'Greek crisis forces thousands of Athenians into rural
Above all, immigration has played a determining role in the transfor­ migration', The Guardian, 13 May, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/
mation of the city centre. Initially, internal migrants arrived looking for may/13/greek-crisis-athens-rural-migration#history-link-box. Accessed
shelter and set up their coffee shops, groceries and associations. They September 2011.
gathered in and around Omonoia Square, met their kin and with other Tversky, Barbara, Kim, Joseph and Cohen, Andrew (1999), Mental Models
members of their social group to subsequently disperse around the city. of Spatial Relations and Transformations from Language, Stanford University/
After 1990, there are new arrivals. These are displaced urban nomads who Indiana University Indiana, USA http://www.psych.stanford.edu/-bt/
had been moving around in emergency conditions. They start arriving space/papers/tverskykimcohen99.doc.pdf. Accessed September 2011.

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Tzirtzilaki, Eleni (2011), 'Athens: A Mapping of Contrasts', Greek Left Review, Studies i n Documentary Film
http://greekleftreview.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/athens-social-ecology­ Volume 6 Number 2
and-territorial-justice/. Accessed May 2011. © 20l2 1ntellect Ltd Article. English l anguage. d oi: 10.1386/sdf.6.2.189_1
Virilio, Paul (1994), The Vision Machine, London: BFI.
Watson, Jeff ( 2010), 'Bloginterviewwith Duncan Speakman: Framing Everyday
Realities', Remote Device.net, 7 October, http://remotedevice.net/blog/
subtlemob- creator-duncan-speakman-on-framing-everyday- realities/.
Accessed 21 November 2011.
The History of Gazi - Athens (2011), 'Placesonline - world travel guide, tourist
information, hotel, travel and vacations', http://www.placesonline.com/
europe/greece/athens/landmarks_and_historic_sites/the_history_of_gazi.
asp. Accessed April 2011.

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George Washington U niversity
http://www.xcp.bfn.org/hight.html. Accessed July 2005.
'Empedia', http://www.empedia.info. Accessed October 2011.
'Mobile Bristol', http://www.mobilebristol.co.uk/QueenSq.html. Accessed
July 2005.
'Urban Tapestries', http://urbantapestries.net/. Accessed July 2005.
'Locative Media Workshop', K@2 Culture and Information Centre, 16-26 July, 'Wal k-I n Documentary':
(2003), http://locative.x-i.net/. Accessed July 2005.

SUGGESTED CITATION
N ew parad igms for game­
Rieser, M. (2012), "Locative voices and cities in crisis', Studies in Documentary
Film, 6: 2, pp. 175-188, doi: 10.1386/sdf.6.2.175_1. based i nte ractive storytell i ng
CONTRIBUTOR DETAILS
Professor Rieser has worked in the field of interactive arts since the early
and experiential confl ict
1980s. He has been a pioneer curator of international exhibitions in elec­
tronic art, including The Electronic Eye: European Electronic Art 1986, and the med iation
first International survey exhibition of Digital Printrnaking: The Electronic Print,
Amolfini in Bristol, 1989. More recently he eo- curated the Inside Out exhibition
of rapid prototyped miniature sculptures made as an artists' exchange between
Australia and the UK, shown at venues in Australia and across the UK.
He is research Professor at the Institute of Creative Technologies in The ABSTRACT KEYWORDS
Faculty of Art, Design and Humanities at De Montfort University. His art In this article I explore the usefulness ofadapting Alternative Reality Gaming (ARG) new media formats
practices in internet and interactive narrative installation art have been seen paradigms to 'interactive documentary', an emerging new media genre with great interactive documen­
around the world including China, France, Holland, Austria, Greece, London, appeal for generalfilm audiences, as well as an innavative new toolfor use in public tary
USA, Germany, Italy and Australia. He has published numerous essays and anthropology and in Drama for Conflict Transformation (DCT). The potential alternative reality
books on digital art including New Screen Media: Cinema/ Art/Narrative (BFII success of ARG-based documentary as a new media storytelling format, I argue, games
ZKM, 2002), and has recently edited The Mobile Audience, locative technology rests on interactive documentary's ability to transfonn conventional non-fiction film irnmersive media
and art (Rodopi, 2011). viewing into a vibrantly engaging experiential practice in which producer, subject virtual storytelling
Contact: 1, The Gateway, De Montfort University, Leicester LEl 9BH, UK. and audience have the ability to eo-create more nuanced modalities for non-fiction augmented reality
E-mail: mrieser@drnu.ac.uk media narratives than are currently achievable using traditional ethnographic and/ media
or storytelling paradigms.
Martin Rieser has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents
Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work in the format that was
submitted to Intellect Ltd.

rl
188 189

.. ··--
...:=:.'--
Kerric Harvey 'Walk·ln Documentary'

THEORETICAL ARGUMENT or exclusion of narrative material have been made - in other words, about
what goes into an otherwise traditional, linear narrative product. This method
Specifically, I suggest that an entirely new type of non-fiction fihn experience
of achieving 'interactivity' is illustrated by the increasing number of online
can be achieved by combining the central principles of Web-based interac­
non-fiction video sites that use a crowd-sourcing model of collective decision­
tive documentary with the operational practices of'alternative reality gaming'
making in all stages of the 'i-doc' creation.
(ARG). The core argument here is that, being a game, the success of an ARG
Structurally, the main malleable elements of an interactive documentary
depends on the continued and active participation of 'players' rather than
are: Authorial voice; production philosophy and protocol, and; conditions of
on the passive viewing of an 'audience', a phenomenon that is reminiscent of
reception. Ontologically, interactive documentary can differ from traditional
interactive documentary, per se.
documentary and traditional ethnographic fihn in at least four fundamental
Additionally, I theorize that ARGs have the potential to help equalize the
ways, although not every 'i-doc' displays each distinguishing characteristic.
relationships betvveen tvvo double sets of players that populate the conven­
tional documentary film universe - documentary creators and documentary Martin Lister (2003) has provided a useful and comprehensive analysis of
interactivity in the new media, emphasizin& among other things, the impor­
audiencesJ on the one hand, and the producers and the subjects of documen­
tary fihn on the other. In anthropological terminology, I argue that ARGs can
tance of media interactivity as a means to intervene in ideological processes.
,

For the purposes of this article, however, I'll focus on the following four
help ameliorate unintentional objectification of 'the other' in the visual data­
elements as the key traits of an 'interactive' documentary:
collection phase of documentary work. This is because the ARG format can
assist in situations in which the documentarian's own cultural world-view is
superimposed on the narrative material during the editing process, a chronic Authorship. An interactive documentary is not necessarily the product of a

storytelling risk against which non-linear and/or viewer-controlled story pres­ single authorial vision or a unified voice, or even the result of work by an
entational design may very well provide some measure of safeguard. identifiable creative team. To some degree, this is always the case with film­
This is achieved, I theorize, by immersing all three signatories to the docu­ making; it is an intensely collaborative medium. But the concept of 'multi­
mentary film-making process - producers, subjects and audiences - in the ple authorship' in the interactive documentary world goes far beyond simple
shared imaginary environment that surrounds the storytelling act. In closinSt collaboration. In many ways, it is not 'multiple authorship' as much as it is
I propose several techniques for importing this paradigm shift in how we fragmented authorship. One of the signature traits of many types of the 'i-doc'
think about documentary fihn per se, into fihn-based ethnography as well
,
is that the film's audience and or its subjects are often pulled into the produc­
as into Drama for Conflict Transformation (DCI), a field of practical as well tion process as eo-creators. Subject communities are turned into authoring
as intellectual endeavour in which theatrical technique is fused with ethno­ communities, often through the mechanism of online crowd-sourcing creative
graphic practice to promote productive intercultural dialogue across intracta­ and structural decisions, and/or at the point of collecting or, later, manipulat­
ble political, religious or economic divides. ing the actual content of the piece.

Non-Linearity. Interactive documentaries often depart from the conventionally


'INTERACTIVE DOCUMENTARY' THEORY AND PRACTICE linear storytelling structure that, historically, characterizes the documentary
Meadows (2003) describes the basic notion of 'the interactive narrative' as: genre. Multiple storylines may be pursued shnultaneously in ways which far
'a time-based representation of character and action in which a reader can exceed the convention of the 'sub-plot', while the hyper-textuality of the Web
alfect, choose, or change the plot' (Meadows 2003; Vladica and Davis 2008), can also let interactive storytellers abandon, entirely, the idea of a dramatic
but more nuance is needed to illustrate the intricate relationship betvveen arc with a beginnin& a middle, and an end. Instead, non-fiction material can
'form' and 'content' within interactive storytelling genres. be presented to viewers according to a wide variety of organizing principles.
Unlike traditional documentary film, interactive documentary provides For example, 'scenes' might be linked as 'sequences' according to the social
opportunity for content producers and their intended audiences to actually dynamics of the people in the film, or according to their relationship to some
eo-create either the media product itself or the viewer's cognitive and tempo­ critical natural resource, such as water, or by virtue of their centrality in a
ral experience in 'consuming' the media product, often using the Internet to major conflict in the host culture at the time of the documentarian's visit.
engage in critical dialogue that shapes both the content and the form of non­
fiction fihn, video and online multimedia. Florian Thallhofer and Beake Bas' This non-linearity is achievable by several means, but is exemplified by an
Galata Bridge (2010; online at: http://planetgalata.com/) and David Dufresne online editing programme called the Korsakow System, in which decisions
and Phillipe Brault's Prison Valley (2010; viewable at: http://prisonvalley.arte. about which shots to place next to one another - the very essence of the edit­
tv/?lang=en) are tvvo excellent examples of slightly different types of interac­ ing process - are left up to a kind of cinematic random numbers generator.
tive documentary in which this occurs. The fihn-maker has progranuned the system to construct sequences accord­
In some instances, however, the 'interactive' part of an interactive ing to a series of rules but not with any replicable consistency.
documentary involves a mix of online and offline material; that is to say, In other words, the Korsakow computer program creates different versions
people participate in the documentary by engaging in a series of actions out of a film using the same raw material,· but arranged in a different sequence
in the physical landscape. In one interpretation of the word 'interactive', each time the fihn is viewed (http:/lkorsakow.org/) .
for example, the 'eo-creation' aspect of the documentary results not from This method of editing is an interesting technique for counter-acting
online interactivity, but from the way in which decisions about the inclusion situations in which the fihn-maker may unknowingly impose a culturally

190 191
Kerric Harvey 'Walk-In Documentary'

inappropriate 'frame' onto the filmic narrative. In addition to its usefulness each one of the four signature traits one is likely to find inhabiting interactive
in side-stepping 'author cultural bias' in the telling of someone else's cultural documentary is also a core principle in the ARG narrative structure.
stories, for museum organizations this offers the possibility of adding 'media­
scopes' and 'narrative spaces' to traditional forms of exhibit design and
installation. VISUAL ETHNOGRAPHY AND THE ARG DOCUMENTARY
Active viewing as an integral part of the documentary experience. Unlike tradi­ By the 1980's, a significant proportion of practicing anthropologists and ethno­
tional documentary, the 'audience' is not just permitted, but is often expected graphic film-makers had begun moving away from an idea that had defined
to contribute to the on-going, ever-morphing creation of the interactive their respective work for almost 80 years (Geertz 1973; Turner 1979; Marcus
documentary through his or her choices regarding content and structure. 1986; Babcock 1980). This was the notion that the ethnographic researcher
Turning the act of viewing into a creative undertaking is a signature trait of was capable of obtaining complete 'objectivity' during fieldwork and the crea­
the interactive documentary geme, whether it be through offering choices tion of its subsequent scholarly artefacts, a notion that eventually resulted in
within a pre-determined set of parameters or through offering more open­ an alternative methodological philosophy known as 'reflexive anthropology'.
ended interaction with an evolving experience. Titis creative undertaking can A key concept in reflexive anthropology is that both the observer and the
implicate the physical environment within which viewing the work is situ­ observed contribute to shared experiences which, eventually, yield 'information',
ated through the addition of locational components such as Gee-Positioning or 'data', or, possibly, even 'truth' of one sort or another (Martinez 1995; Geertz

Satellite (GPS) technology. Perhaps the most radical iteration of this, thus far, 1973; Babcock 1980). This attitude is consistent with the multi-authoring and
is the documentary delivery device called the 'museum wearable', which, as often deeply iterative nature of the interactive documentary, in which the actual
Sparacino describes: material of the documentary 'product' is released from the constraints of linear
presentation as well as from the single-author, top-down production process.
. . . is a wearable computer which orchestrates an audiovisual narration The net effect of this, in anthropology, is to re-empower the target popu­
as a function of the visitor's interests gathered from his or her physical lation (those under anthropological scrutiny) by including ernic (insider) as
path in the museum. It offers a new type of entertaining and informa­ well as etic (outsider) information in a much more balanced ratio than was
tive museum experience more similar to mobile immersive cinema than previously the case. Ethnographic film-makers, then, are a rich secondary
to the traditional museum experience. community for the notion of the interactive documentary, and even more so
(Sparacino 2008 cited in Vladica and Davis 2008: 320) for interactive documentaries that capitalize on the ARG model of information
delivery (Harvey 2012).
Other technologically exotic forms of interactive documentary include 3-D Consequently, it can be argued that, in an interactive documentary, just
imaging and inunersive documentary, which employs virtual reality technol­ like in reflexive ethnography, multiple authors shape the narrative from a
ogy to literally surround the audience member in the 'reality' of the narrative. series of different perspectives regardless of their respective positions within
Expectations about 'truth'. Interactive documentaries often raise questions the production chain. I would suggest that this is especially true of interac­
around the idea of capturing 'universal' cultural or social truth on fihn. For tive documentaries modelled after ARGs, since in those cases the audience/
those who are rooted in the notion of multiple narratives told from varied participants actually drive the direction of the storyline by their personal
character perspectives, the very notion of 'getting the story righf is basically choices and reactions.
irrelevant. Attention to accuracy, to context factuality, and to a level of specifi­
city that captures events, issues and artefacts - as well as people and places ­
'ARG' AS AN INTERACTIVE NARRATIVE
is still important to the interactive documentary film-maker, but there is a
much wider range of acceptable variety in the treatment of a topic, subject, Relatively new on the media landscape, ARGS are, essentially, a combination
issue or event than one finds in linear non-fiction narrative. If truth is already intellectual treasure hunt and experiential learning event. Real-world, real­
elusive in traditional documentary film-making, it is even more elusive in the time narrative elements are integrated into the ARG's 'master plan' govern­
interactive version of that endeavour. ing incremental information release, which in turn provides propulsion for
In sum, the 'interactivity' aspect of an interactive documentary can take narrative development within the gaming environment. Wrapped within the
many different forms and can be located at any given point in the production, competitive dimension of 'the game' is a fully developed narrative line, a
transmission and reception proces�. It can appear in the way in which visual story arc that is just as robust and mature as those that can be found in tradi­
and audio material is gathered (crowd-sourced content); it can be inherent in tional stage productions or conventional screen media such as film and televi­
the way in which 'authoring' is perceived. It can dictate how the 'story struc­ sion. Unlike those conventional media formats, however, ARGs weave their
ture1 unfolds, and it can be especially conspicuous in the process by which narrative material into the audience's everyday life, making the informational
'audiences' actually affect the film itself. content of the 'program' palpable in ways that are not just intellectual inter­
In any and all of these iterations, however, the driving idea is a move­ ludes but which are concrete, lived exp,eriences as well. Titis is because ARG
ment away from thinking of the screen media as something that one set of �players', who are the functional equivalent of documentary film 'audience
people create and another set of people consume, to that of the audience members', actually 'play through' the program's educational content, interact­
and the producers as eo-constructors of social meaning as well as storytelling ing with it in a dynamic way that is markedly different from the more passive,
form and content for screen products. Even more to the point for this article, consumption-oriented paradigm of traditional screen media.

192 193
Kerric Harvey 'Walk·ln Documentary'

In an ARG, real-world, real-time narrative elements are adapted to follow topic as it relates to learning both inside and outside of the university envi­
an intensely non-linear narrative framework, which can unfold in a variety rorunent, and especially in museums. Although the literature indicates a fair
of different directions depending on choices made by the ARG players. amount of variety in what actually constitutes 'extending the museum experi­
Participants utilize mobile phones and e-mail, as well as all forms of social ence', more and more executive, educational and curatorial professionals are
media - Twitter, Facebook, text-messaging, and so on - to move through a exploring ways of achieving it, even if that sometimes means working with
semi-scripted 'storyline'in which they are 'competing' and 'cooperating' with audience/visitors in an exclusively online capacity. Colleen Dilenschneider at
other 'players' to achieve a specific goal. the Center for the Future of Museums notes that:
However, these virtual points of contact are interspersed with a variety of
'real-world' (RW) clues and information trails, including 'chance' encounters Online communities create personal connections to the museum:
with 'random strangers' who are really actors facilitating the ARG by deliv­ Because online communities take place in a virtual realm in which inter­
ering scripted content as if it were spontaneous conversation. ARG partici­ actions can be preserved, these interactions allow museums to listen
pants/audience members also receive information from 'things' like posters, to audiences so that they may better meet visitor needs. Preserved
flyers, hand-written notes across which ARG players 'happen' to come across, interactions provide the ability for museum professionals to respond to
like maps or riddles tucked under their automobile windshields, or via public inquiries and meet the interests of certain demographics without alien­
announcements made in public places like hotel lobbies. Each 'clue' leads ating others. This kind of attention paid to the museum audience and
players to the next round of the 'story' which, in turn, intensifies both the individual fans and followers often results in the feeling of a personal
tempo of the game and the level of informational content needed to continue relationship with the museum.
playing. In other words, knowledge absorption - learning - must occur in (Dilenschneider 2008)
order for players to advance to the next stage of the game itself.
All of the various vehicles for this far-flung, multi-dimensional informa­ 'The Digital Generation', as described by Evangelista (2004) does not simply
tion release scheme, everything from the Tweets to the living actors, are coor­ use their personal media technology; they live inside of it, a profound anthro­
dinated and subsequently player-accessed via a central website used by ARG pological shift with equally profound implications for all areas of collective as
players world-wide, called 'Unfiction.com'. By following these pre-scripted well as individual life - governance, community, political identity develop­
cues delivered through a variety of media modalities, the ARG 'audience' ment, interpersonal and inter-group relations, and, of course, documentary
actually helps to shape the narrative structure of the ARG through the choices film the screen media version of the curated exhibit. Liu argues that media
,

they make and the actions they take, or do not take, as the trail of infor­ producers for the twenty-first century must develop information delivery
mation-rich 'dues' continues to unfold in lockstep with the ARG's storyline. techniques that are consonant with digital residents' emerging social and
Hundreds of people can participate in ARG at a given time, if desired, and the cognitive expectations and assumptions, a point easily transferable to docu­
'game experience' can last for anything from a few hours to several months. mentary film .

Based on the ARG core characteristics, I would argue that the genre's
potential as a distinct and adroit communication vehicle is not yet fully realized, The interactive relationship between museums and their visitors is
and that the storytelling efficacy of the ARG geme qualifies it as a remarkably further pushed forward to multiple-way communications due to the
effective pia tform for a new type of interactive documentary. Re-conceptualizing wide prevalence of the web . . . In order to help museums to attract
ARG as a kind of participatory narrative takes interactive documentary off the more constituents, many forward thinkers and practitioners have experi­
computer screen and tluusts it into the audience's three-dimensional, real-life mented and proposed diverse online strategies, social technologies, and
world. As such, what I term colloquially as the 'walk in documentary' format ­ communicative methods for museums to deploy their resources effectively
the ARG - combines the eo-creative experience of the interactive documentary on the web, extending their educational function to untapped areas.
with the high 'audience' engagement level of the ARG, resulting in a media (Hsiang-Yi Lui 2009)
experience in which the audience both learns and 'feels' the narrative material
that constitutes the 'walk-in doe's' informational core. A case stu.dy of the first museum-sponsored ARG provides encouragement
for the idea of embedding documentary film material in ARG presentational
framework that bridges the museum and the documentary universes. In 2008,
GAMING STUDIES AND THE 'WALK·IN DOCUMENTARY' curatorial staff at the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution worked with
'
The potential of the ARG paradigm as a type of interactive documentary author and Internet entrepreneur John Maccabee and other ARG experts to
relates to a larger set of social issues regarding the best ways to 'reach' rising design, develop, and deploy the first educational ARG sponsored by a major
generations of global citizens and local decision-makers, who comprise that museum and educational complex, based on the Luce Collection at the
segment of the population that came to adulthood holding a BlackBerry and Srnithsonian's American Art Museum.
for whom their mobile phone is the digital equivalent of the Swiss Army knife, Using clues embedded in compuh;r code, worked into poster content,
as a Silicon Valley technical writer once wrote (Evangelista 2004). delivered by mobile phone and twined into Twitter, as well as some star­
There is neither time nor opportunity here to explore this important subject tlingly dramatic in-person encounters, the ARG entitled 'Ghost of A Chance'
with the thoroughness it deserves, but just a few observations may be useful led its several hundred players/audience members on a merry romp through
to illustrate the range and the creativity of crurent conversations around this the Luce Center Foundation collection of American paintings, in search of a

>94
>95
Kerric Harvey 'Walk-In Documentary'

fictional set of ghosts haunting the exhibit. As noted in the project's official in anthropological terms, the World Without Oil ARG is capitalizing on a
report, the Smithsonian ARG was a huge success as measured by a variety of concept first explored by anthropologist Victor Turner, in his work on using
criteria (Gupta 2008; Simon 2008): the 'subjunctive mode of culture', or group imagination, to explore what is
and is not conceivable, permissible or even possible within any given soci­
The game offered both new and existing museum audiences a novel ety's cosmology, when adherents to that cosmology are confronted with a
way of engaging with the collection in its Luce Foundation Center for hypothetical event outside the normal range of socially constructed reality
American Art, a visible storage facility that displays more than 3,300 (Turner 1992). 1his is a powerful methodological as well as ontological notion,
artworks in floor-to-ceiling glass cases. . . . inviting garners to create which seems to be as significant in gaming studies as it is in the anthropology
objects and mail them to the museum for an Lexhibition' curated by of performance.
two game characters posing as employees. But the 'game within the
game' was also a challenge to uncover clues to the narrative that binds
those objects, and to investigate the way objects embody histories. The
THE 'WALK-IN DOCUMENTARY' AND DCT
game culminated on October 25 with a series of six scavenger-hunt-like The notion of ARG-platfonned interactive documentary is particularly inter­
"quests" designed for players of all ages. Over 6,000 players participated esting in the context of using online and virtual media as twenty-first-century
online and 244 people came for the onsite event. tools in DCf. Basically, DCf is:
(Bath 2008)
. . . a specialty area within the conflict mediation literature that uses the
jane McGonigal, of Palo Alto's institute for the Future, helped design 'Ghost conventions of dramaturgy as a medium for exploring. expressing. and
of a Chance' for the Smithsonian Institution, built around the organizing eventually alleviating flammable issues between and within various
narrative that one of the Smithsonian's art collections were infested with mali­ types of contrasting groups.
cious spirits that had to be detected, identified and neutralized before they (Arendshorst 2005)
destroyed the paintings in which they lodged. McGonigal is highly enthusi­
astic about the usefulness and the importance of this level of interactivity in 1his extremely focused use of the ARG format re-frames the conventional
museum 'visitors' of the future: understanding of 'documentary film' from a finished story to an ongoing and
enriching visual conversation across a real-world conflict divide. It uses non­
(She) . . . believes the ideas people imagine today are the keys to the fiction visual material that is collected and subsequently shared by partici­
planet's future - and that games have a way of pushing people to be pants in a real conflict as a means of facilitating better understanding of each
creative problem solvers. Museums, she says, need to get on the b�d­ other's lived experience of that conflict and the cultural, social, political and
wagon; they can no longer afford to simply be places that house collec­ emotional issues that surround it.
tions. 'The fate of humanity hangs in the balance over whether we're 1his new way of thinking about non-fiction screen media intersects
going to get crowds to do anything useful or not,' McGonigal says. 'Are productively with my previous work of revising. re-vamping and re-purposing
they going to put ali of their cognitive bandwidth into virtual worlds, or conventional DCf to reflect pertinent material from communications theory
are they going to contribute?' and to capitalize on ubiquitous personal and social media technologies such
(Blair 2009) as mobile phones, blackberry, ipads, Facebook and Twitter (Harvey 2007). In
brief, this theoretical re-vision argues that:
The Smithsonian example illustrates how well the ARG format can mesh with
immersive learning experiences in a museum setting. However, the usefulness Traditionally, DCT is offered as a remedy for conflict management
of ARG learning games is not limited to the museum setting. In recent years, between opposing groups after escalation has occurred, and usually after
McGonigal's institute has helped develop other ARGs that relay the same criticality has been reached and conventional methods for stopping the
types of material one might find in a documentary film, but that are offered spiraling aggression have been tried and discarded. In contrast to this,
to viewer/players via an ARG paradigm, and have no basis in a museum (my new theory of) 'dialogic DCf' is intended primarily for use within,
collection. Perhaps the best known of these is 'World Without Oil'. not between, the opposing sides of a conflict situation, and before intrac­
tability has settled into place ... The whole point of the dialogic DCf
WORLD WITHOUT OIL simulated the first 32 weeks of a global oil model is to avoid political stalemate from happening in the first place, by
crisis. It established a citizen 'nerve center' to track events and share leveraging emotional inconsistencies within groups as a positive force
solutions. Anybody could play by creating a personal story - an email for keeping open the communication channels between groups ...
or phone call, or for advanced users a blog post, video, photo, podcast, (Harvey 2006)
twitter, whatever - that chronicled the imagined reality of their life in
the crisis. The WWO site at worldwithoutoil.org links to all these stories. I am especially hopeful about using ARG-based documentaries for this
The game encouraged excellence with daily awards and recognition for purpose because they engage people who might otherwise become antago­
authentic and intriguing stories. nists as players in the same interactive 'game'. Three specific aspects of inter­
(Hiphop 2012) active documentary support this theoretical possibility.

196 197
Kerric Harvey 'Walk·ln Documentary'

First, interactive documentaries, as defined in this article, are firmly rooted or she has entered the world of the documentary subject, not from what they
in the lived experiences of the people and groups who are also the focus of might impose upon that subject as a storyline before they even begin the film­
the media product, per se; they are not subjected to having a storyline or a ing process. Of course, this is not the only philosophical approach to docu­
presumed world-view imposed on them from an 'outside' documentary mentary fiim-making- in fact, debate regarding the best way to organize and
producer or ethnographer, no matter how well-meaning. Media content subsequently present field material has swirled throughout the entire lilespan
producers who approach the documentary film-making enterprise from the of the documentary genre, interactive or not (Hampe 1997; Nichols 1992).
'etic' (or 'outsider') perspective run the risk of unintentionally but unhelp­ When it comes to 'walk-in documentary' story construction, however, the
fully superimposing their own systems for cultural meaning-making onto the discussion takes on a much more practical dimension, since the audience­
authentic experiences of their subjects. led nature of the content development imposes certain demands 'upstream'
Second, because interactive documentary can capitalize on the democra­ from the experiences of the players themselves (this being the ARG equiv­
tizing dimension of the Internet by re-purposing everyday technology that is alent of 'watching the programme). Consequently, an ARG-based docu­
already in play within the film-makers' lives (notably those that employ the mentary must begin from a fairly cohesive, information-rich script, for the
video capture feature of the ubiquitous mobile phone), they can be unobtru­ simple reason that the audience fragments it every time they make a game­
sive, low-tech and low-budget - all desirable traits in academic field research playing 'choice' within it. This, in turn, suggests an important conceptual
as well as in independent documentary film-making. This re-purposing of limitation about the ARG format as a frame for interactive documentary
a familiar personal communications device (PCD) as an ethnographic video storytelling. Consequently, I would argue that an ARG model is likely to
capture tool can be useful on both sides of the classic tension between adopt­ work most effectively in those sub-genres of documentary in which pre­
ing the 'insider' versus the 'outsider' narrative voice, since simplicity of opera­ scripting the 'story' plays a legitimately significant role in the production
tion means that in many cases it might be possible for the subjects of a film to process, such as historical pieces, biographies, and science and technology
use that same equipment to produce content about themselves. programmes.
A dual data stream of visual information is thus made possible, which can,
in turn, be formatted for analysis and, ultimately, public presentation as an
interactive visual ethnography, including an ARG This is, literally, the visual
CONCLUSION
equivalent of 'walking in someone else's shoes' via virtual technology. In Arenschoft (2005), 0\aitin (2003), LeBaron (2003a, 2003b, 2003c), Turner
addition to its utility in the ethnographic film-making process, it can be of (1979, 1992) and a host of other scholars writing in cultural theory, media
enormous value in allowing the antagonists in a conflict situation to get a anthropology, and new media studies, all maintain that a universal founda­
sense of how it 'feels' to be the 'other side'. tion of the human experience is the ability, the desire and the need to tell
The third and related reason that interactive documentary is so useful in stories. The different approaches of virtual technology discussed in this arti­
DCf is that it brings the audience right into the heart of the 'conflict experi­ de illustrate the vast and exciting array of possibilities offered by interactive
ence'. Using everyday PCD' s instead of bulky, intrusive film and video cameras documentary, in general, and ARG-based interactive documentary, in partic­
as to collect the visual material can leverage this advantage even further, ular, for precisely this type of storytelling.
I
11
introducing into the actual conflict situation itself the possibility of on-going, None of these new formats can, or should, replace extant forms of docu­
enriching and almost real-time dialogue between conflict participants and the mentary film; rather, they can supply an exciting and important adjunct to
,I ;
'audience' to a degree that has not been possible before, since technical train­ traditional documentary cinema, and offer new storytelling functionalities
ing and financial constraints drop dramatically once mobile phone cameras within the over-arching genre of non-fiction narrative. Their shared allure
replace 'real' ones. is that each of these new storytelling formats promises both producers and
Once adapted to the ARG format, this, in turn, makes available to interac­ audiences the ability to create new types of 'documentary film' as a type of
tive documentary audiences a rich mix of Web-platformed and 'real-world' dynamic, robust meaning-making experience in which they both have an
material that is encountered experientially, not just cognitively, by the 'audi­ active relationship to the story being told. Game-based interactive documen­
ence'. The potential boon to conflict mediation of having participants even tary fonnats such as the 'walk-in documentary' can also offer a pmoerful tool in an
temporarily get a chance to experience the conflict in which they are embroiled updated and expanded array of conflict mediation practices.
from their 'opponent's' perspective is enormous. Additionally, visual ethnographers can enrich their practice by explor­
ing the marriage of very small screen (VSS) image-capturing devices (such
as mobile telephones, blackberries, and Flip-type point-and-shoot video
LIMITATIONS OF THE ARG FORMAT AS A TYPE OF INTERACTIVE cameras that upload directly to the Web through a computer's USB port) with
DOCUMENTARY the dynamic, non-linear narrative format options made possible by the Web
The ARG 'walk-in doe' paradigm may not be equally suitable, it is important design and delivery technology that underlies interactive documentary as a
to note, for all types of interactive documentary content. The special challenge whole. In the end this gives ethnographic film-makers the option to eo-create
of adapting the ARG format to create a new type of interactive documentary is the final product with full support and participation of their subjects.
that, by and large, documentaries are not 'scripted' in the same way as narra­ With their emphases on simultaneous multiple storylines, eo-creative rela­
tive film or curated like museum exhibits. Depending on the genre, docu­ tionships and non-linear narrative structures, interactive documentaries, in
mentary scripts often emerge from what the film-maker has found when he general, and interactive documentaries structured and shared as an Alternative

II
198 199
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Kerric Harvey 'Walk·ln Documentary'

Reality Games, especially, offer rich new media storytelling techniques for British Museum and the Royal Anthropological Institute, London, June
organizing ethnographic and non-fiction narrative material and sharing it 8-10, 2012.
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worldwithoutoil.org/metaabout.html. Site accessed April 2012.
Hsiang-Yi Lui, Alison (2009), 'Creating online learning environments for
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Babcock, Barbara A. (1980), 'Reflexivity: Definitions and discriminations', of Colorado, http://www.beyondintractability.org/bi-essay/communica­
Semiotica, 30: 1-2, pp. 1-14. tion/tools
Bath, Georgina (2008), Final Report, Ghosts of a Chance Alternate Reality -- (2003b), 'Cultural and worldview frames', in Guy Burgess and Heidi
Game (ARG), Washington, DC: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 6 Burgess (eds), BeyondIntractability Knowledge Base Project, Conflict Research
November, 18 July-25 October, http://www.ghostsofachance.com/ Consortium, Boulder: University of Colorado, http://www.beyondintracta­
Blair, Elizabeth (2009), 'Interactive games make museums a place to play', bility.org/bi-essay/cultural/frames
National Public Radio website story companion post, 12 January, http:// -- (2003c), 'Cross-cultural communication', in Guy Burgess and Heidi
www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyld�99. Accessed 24 April 2012. Burgess (eds), Beyond Intractability Knowledge Base Project, Conflict Research
Chaitin, Julia (2003), 'Narratives and storytelling', in Guy Burgess and Heidi Consortium, Boulder: University of Colorado, http://www.beyondintracta­
Burgess (eds), Beyond Intractability Knowledge Base Project, Conflict Research bility.org/bi-essay/cross-cultural-communication
Consortium, Boulder: University of Colorado, July, http://www.beyondin­ Lister, Martin (2003), New Media: A Critical Introduction, London: Routledge
tractability.org/print/2618 Press.
Dilenschneider, Colleen (2008), 'The "Realness" of museums' online commu­ Marcus, George (ed.) (1986), Writing Culture: the Poetics and Politics of
nities: A platform for the future', 18 November, http://futureofmuseums. Ethnography, Berkeley: University of California Press.
blogspot.ca/2010111/realness-of-museums-online-communities.html. Site Martinez, Wilton (1995), 'The challenges of a pioneer: Tim Asch, Otherness,
accessed April, 2012. and film reception', Visual Anthropology Review, 11: 1, pp. 53--82.
Dufresne, David and Brault, Philiipe (2010), Prison Valley, Web Documentary, Meadows, M. S. (2004), in Vladica and Davis (2008), p. 320, http://mediaxxi.
Co-Produced by Upian, ARTE TV, CNC, France. com/OnlineBookShop/index.php?page�shop.product_details&category_
Evangelista, Benny (2004), 'Video the next big thing for mobile phones', trib. id�17&flypage�flypage.tpl&product_id�300&option�com_virtuemart&It
corn, 8 June, http://trib.com/features/science/article_abcda978-4875-5476- emid�65&lan�en&vmcchk�1.
ac06-c4d0a45d56a9.html. Site accessed April, 2012. -- (2003), Pause and Effect: The Art of the Interactive Narrative, Indianapolis:
Geertz, Clifford (1973), The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays, New New Riders.
York: Basic Books. Nichols, Bili (1992), Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary,

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-- (1976), 'Art as a cultural system', Modem Language Notes, Vol. 91 No. 6, Bloornington: University of Indiana Press.
pp. 1473--99. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press. -- (2006), 'What to do about documentary distortion? Toward a code of

1!
-- (1983), Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretive Anthropology, ethics', March and April, Documentary.org. Accessed 18 April 2012.
New York: Basic Books. Olsen, Stephanie (2012), 'CNET', http://worldwithoutoil.org/metaabout.htrn.
Gupta, Anita (2008), Get Your Game On, Smithsonian.com, October, http:// Site accessed April 2012.
www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/atm-game-200810.html. Site Simon, Nina ( 2008), 'An ARG at the Smithsonian: Games, collections, and
I'
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accessed November, 2011. ghosts', 8 September, http:/imuseumtwo.blogspot.com/2008/09/arg-at­


-- (2008), The End of the Game, a Mystery in Four Parts, Smithsonian.com, smithsonian-games-collections.htrnl. Site accessed November 2011.
December, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/The-End-Of­ Sparacino, Flavia (2004), 'Museum intelligence: Using interactive technolo­
The-Game-A-Mystery-In-Four-P,arts.html. Site accessed November, 2011. gies for effective communication and storytelling in the Puccini set design',
Hampe, Barry (1997), Making Documentary Films and Reality Videos, New York: Archives & Museum Informatics, Europe, pp. 2-40.
Henry Holt & Co. Thallhofer, Florian and Bas, Beake (2010), Planet Galata - A Bridge in Istanbul,
i Harvey, Kerric (2006), 'Dialogic theatre and cultural geography', The Web Documentary, Produced by Kloos & Co. Medien, Crossmedia Project for
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International Journal of the Arts in Society, 1: 2, pp. 7-17. ARTE Event "Istanbul."
-- (2007), 'A new media approach to old problems: Phone flicks and cease Turner, Terence (1995), 'Representatiqn, collaboration and mediation in
fires', The International Journal of the Humanities, 5: 5, pp. 60--68. contemporary ethnographic and indigenous media', Visual Anthropology
;, -- (2012), 'Interactive documentary and public anthropology: Scholarship, Review, 11: 2, September, pp. 102--06.
social activism, or ethnographic entertainment?', unpublished paper Turner, Victor (1979), 'Dramatic ritual/ritual drama: Performative and reflexive
prepared for presentation at Bringing Anthropology to the Public conference, anthropology', The Kenyan Review, 1: 3, Summer, pp. 8[}-93.

200 20>
Kerric Harvey
SDF 6 {2) pp. 203-214 Intellect limited 2012

-- (1992),
The Anthrapology ofPerfonnance, New York: PAJ Publications. Studies in Documentary Film
Vladica, Florin and Davis, Charles H. (2008), Business Innovation and New Volume 6 Number 2
Media Practices in Documentary Film Production and Distribution: Conceptual © 2012 l ntellect Ltd Article. English language. d o i; 10.1386/sd f.6.2.203_1
Framework and Review of Evidence, 12 October, Toronto: Ryerson
University, http://mediaxxi.com/OnlineBookShop/index.php?page=shop.
product_details&ca tegory_id= 1 7 &flypage=flypage . tpl &product_
id=300&option=com_virtuemart&lternid=65&lang.

SUGGESTED CITATION
Harvey, K. (2012), "Walk-In Documentary': New paradigms for game-based
interactive storytelling and experiential conflict mediation', Studies in
Documentary Film, 6: 2, pp. 189-202, doi: 10.1386/sd£.6.2.189_1.

CONTRIBUTOR DETAILS RODERICK COOVER

I
Dr. Kerric Harvey is the Associate Director of the Center for Innovative Temple Un iversity
Media (CIM) and an Associate Professor in the School of Media and Public
Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She studies the
anthropological impact of emerging media technologies and develops ways
of extending face-to-face drama for conflict transformation into virtual and
I,
oniine landscapes. In addition to being a working playwright, Dr. Harvey also
explores cell phone film-making and interactive documentary within fiction,
Visual research and the new
non-fiction, and ethnographic contexts.

Contact: Associate Director, Center for Innovative Media, and Associate docu mentary
Professor, School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University,
Washington, DC 20052, USA.
E-mail: kharvey@gwu.edu.

ABSTRACT
I
Kerric Harvey has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents KEYWORDS

1
Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work in the format that was This paper reflects upon theoretical, practical and ethical issues facing the production interactive
submitted to Intellect Ltd. �f interactive docum�ta_ry cinema projects that are based on in-depth, disciplinary, documentary
mtellectual and/or arhshc research questions, such of those concerning anthropologi­ anthropology
cal observation and visual studies. The paper considers ways in which perceptions
of h� documentary images function in digital environments impact documentary
worldmaking
editing
I ,,
practice and production. The interdisciplinary paper draws upon writings in poetry, reflexivity I
philosophy, visual studies, dnema studies and art with special attention given to the
writings of Dai Vaughn, Nelson Goodman, Charles Bernstein, John Berger, Alain
realism
panorama I'
Robbe-Grillet, and Michael Renov, as well as to cinematic and digital works by
Sharon Daniels, the Labyrinth Project, Jean Rouch, Samuel Bollendorf and Abel
Segretin, among others. I
I
l li
Documentary always exceeds it makers' prescriptions.
(Vaughan 1999)

. . . (Y)ou can't make bacon and eggs without slaughtering a pig.


(Charles Bemstein's mother as remembered by
·

Bernstein 2011)

I I'
' '

202
I
203
Rode rick Coover
Visual research and the new documentary

1. For more on how 1. p�ocesses of making sense of existence is both challenging and evolving in the 2. There are many
computing is impacting . age.
digital works that address
the terms of research, Charles Bemstein's collection, The Attack of the Difficult Poems (2011) may not say the reflective turn ln
and hence, disciplinary Film p�ojects based in visual research, such as those that are frequently
much to directly guide readers to make sense of any particular, or particularly, ethnography such as
frameworks, see produced m fields such as anthropology and visual studies are themselves James Clifford and
difficult poem. Rather, through shape-shifting arguments, Bemstein reminds
Switching Codes:
richly .varied. They range from documentary studies that a;empt to present George Marcus (1986).
Thinking through readers in this era of presumed, shortened attention spans that not all ideas
Digital Technology empmcal data, such as those of the Britain's Mass Observation Movement of 3. If images didn't offer
are quickly digestible, and he cautions that some poems may seem easy simply
In the Humanities
and Arts (Bartscherer because they are not saying anything. Bernstein's proposition, which applies
�e 1930s, to highly expressive and artistic approaches, such as anthropolo­ more than what
could be imagined
and Coover 2o11). ln giSt Robert Ascher's hand-painted, animations based upon Tlingit myths such and controlled,
across the arts and most certainly to those interactive docwnentaries that are
this volume, scholars as Blue: A TlmfJ!I Odyssey (1991). There are countless works that use original Vaughan points
and artists in diverse developed through extensive research, is that works which challenge the easy out, ethnographies
recordings as well as many, such as Vincent Monnikendarn's Mother Dao: The
fields discuss how the consumption of ideas may require time and effort on the part of the receiver, could be entirely
terms of their practices Turtlelike (1995), which are made entirely from archival recordings. Many of made in studios with
just as they probably did on the part of the maker. Experiencing concentrated
are being altered thes� projects grow out of and through years of research, and in many, film_ actors(1ggg; 82).
through computing. engagement, duration, immersion and the gathering of ideas over several
maki�g �ay be com�ler:nented by other kinds of practices such as writing, 4. For more on Nelson
As researchers and sittings even may be of the essence of such works, both in form and content.
artists become trained qu�titative �d qualitative data, language acquisition and participant obser­ Good man's theories of
on the same tools,
While there dO still exist readers and viewers who are eager to plunge into works worldmaking and their
vati�n. _Many m:orporate reflexive questions about the relationships between
they understand that are challenging, the entertainment industries may not always appreciate relation to cinematic
each other's practices subjective expenence, research models and representation.2 One of the excit­ practices of editing
works that slow down either the rush to consume or the speedy dissemination and anthropological
and incorporate ing feahlres of el�ctronic media is how such diverse practices, processes and
terminology that was of a capitalist logic, which may be embedded as much in the clicking function theories of tropes, see
co�tent may be srmultaneously presented to allow users insight into relation­ Coover (2001; 2003).
once alien. However, as in any content. The rhetoric of ease and brevity pervades discourse on digital
these tools and terms shi�s between documentary representations and the contexts from (and by)
media design including that of digital, cinematic media arts, where short-lived
may hold differing which they were constructed. Makers can combine observational and reflexive
implications and result design aesthetics often prefigure how innovative questions get asked.1
media, and users can follow how films emerge out of lived experience and the
in surprising evolutions At a recent conference dedicated to interactive documentary, for example,
due to the varied data it offers.
contexts of their uses.
a discussant leading a panel on documentary research projects announced
Documentaries are constitutive (Vaughan 1999: 82). There is far more
displeasure at failing to quickly make sense of (or, indeed, stay with) the
content in a motion image that a viewer can digest; the viewer, not unlike the
works to be discussed when attempting to digest them the evening before.
She felt that the works demanded too much of the viewer, and she proposed �aker: constructs understanding from the information flashing by.3 Film view­
mg rrurrors, _ and perhaps articulates, a fundamental human process by which
that such interactive documentaries should, like entertainment works, be
the mmd distingwshes, sorts and connects sensory information in time to
tested on focus groups to improve usability. The presumption was that an
construct, and continually reconstruct, a more or less cohesive sense of whole.
interactive documentary project should be readily consumable in a single
Following upon works by Emst Gombrich (1969), Rudolf Arnheim (1954)
sitting, even a hybrid one that may be the result of many years of research
and others, Nelson Goodman defines these largely unconscious processes of
and production. Beyond the momentary surprise of her response given the
making sense out of visual and other sensory stimuli as worldmaking (1978).
academic conference context in which research projects are more often the
According. to Goodman, seeing is motivated, and it is built upon memory. The
rule than the exception, the question provided illumination upon significant
differences in expectations about what documentaries are or do, even if, in
�uman mmd chooses what to look at and what to ignore, making sense of
information through at least five processes: (1) composition and deletion, (2)
practice, borderlines between different docurnentary modes and genres are
weighting. (3) ordering. (4) deletion and supplementation, and (5) deforma­
frequently blurred. This article responds to these concerns to articulate some
tion. Through these processes, new realities are built out of old ones.4
of the issues facing interactive documentary cinema projects that are based on
in-depth, disciplinary, intellectual and/or artistic research questions. The question of how film stimulates these kinds of perceptive and cognitive
processes has shaped a century of film theory and production beginning with
works by lummanes such as Dz1ga Vertov, Sergei Eisenstein, Lev Kuleshov,
2.
Hugo Musterberg and Rudolf Arnheim (see e.g. Arnheim 1954; Eisenstein
There are many kinds of cinematic works that might be considered docu­ 1975, 1977; Kuleshov 1974; Miinsterberg 2002; Vertov 1984). Eisenstein,
mentaries or which incorporate docurnentary forms. For example, there are m particular, demonstrated the capacity of film to build meaning through
documentaries that tell stories or builp arguments; there are those that picture contra �ting f?�s �d visual _ qualities, both in framing and in montage.
places or record events; there are essay films that present personal observations That E1senstem s wntings on film, which were written in the context of film­
and subjective viewpoints, activist media, community documentary projects, making after the Russian revolution, have more recently impacted fields of
expressionist studies (including, famously, city symphonies), nature films, cultural research in works by Jarnes Oifford (1988), George Marcus (1990) and
reportage and films that grow out of scholarly or artistic research questions. Michael Tauss1g (1987) among others, suggests how cinematic characteristics
In addition, there are numerous hybrid forms such as mockumentaries, which �ave. illuminated _broad questions about. the nature of perception and cogni­
blur borders of fiction and non-fiction, and mixed media or multi-monitor tion m te�olog�cal societies. Meaning in documentary is mediated through
installations, which may set documentary films or segments in juxtaposition technologies, and any student fihn-maker soon learns that the mind after a
with other forms. While defining what is or is not considered a documentary period of production or intense spectatorship, starts dreaming in cl�se-ups,
is unrealistic, the understanding of how images of actuality function in human pans and match-cuts. However, the lens and camera are not like hurnan sight.

204
205
Roderick Coover Visual research and the new documentary

modes as well as the incorporation of other kinds of research materials such 6. This by no means
s. Asa resultof the The human eye is active, continually participating in a process of seeking out
rejects the importance
conditions of video information and making choices in what and how it sees. as text, maps and photographs. They can allow for continual updating and
of film, video,
tape, analogue video offer opportunities for using algorithms to create versions generated by the
The constitutive condition in cinema occurs throughout production and photography or
editing makes greater
computer or user inputs. Further, in locative media projects, virtual 'edits' may other media; there
use of logs that are in reception. The documentary film-maker chooses where to direct attention,
remain expressions
referenced to stacks of what to frame and focus upon and when to turn. the camera(s) on and off. Every even be created by users physically walking among actual places, conjoining far better articulated
time-coded tapes.
film-maker knows the excitement (and foreboding) of watching rushes and located materials en route. Therefore, the editor may also be a theoretician, in an optically printed
technician, writer, explorer, researcher and designer, and this may result in film or a silver nitrate
discovering how an original experience has become rendered (or translated) photograph, for
through the camera and its elements - film stock, analogue tape, bits, etc. projects that are equally experiential or intellectual.6 There is a risk, however, example, than through
Films are assembled for what feels right as well as what seems to make sense that structural and technological advances are not developed in relation to a digital work. Each
stimulates differing
on paper. In watching a documentary, the viewer constitutes meaning through in-depth content; in such cases, the exhibitions of technological innovation
perceptive and
perception and reflection. Consciously or not, the viewer interprets the visual are primarily self-serving to the technological apparatus of which they are a cognitive responses
part, and as such there is less opportunity for a two-way exchange, apt appli­ and each expands
experience based on prior experiences. No two viewers, therefore, will see a
the world in differing
film in exactly the same way. The primacy of constitutive processes to single cation of metaphors or structures, and creative growth. ways, articulating
channel documentaries (aka films, videos, television programmes) may not For the creators of digital works, navigation-based forms of interaction and engaging
are shaped by computer interface, program metaphors and design possibili­ life's experiential
hold true for interactive documentaries, or at least not in the same way. ambiguities.
ties. Materials, such as icons, videos and text are displayed spatially. Just as
icons are moved about the desktop on personal computers, so, too, are icons
3- pertaining to video clips moved between folders, bins and/or tirnelines in
In their book Another Way ofTelling (1982), John Berger and Jean Mohr present programs like Adobe Premiere®, Adobe After Effects®, Avid, DVD Studio
a 142 page photo sequence that is part narrative, part expressive montage and Pro®, Final Cut Pro® and Media 100®, and they may be placed in other
part visual essay. They argue that their montage of images, while appear­ programs that are designed for other kinds of creative and critical practices
ing cinematic, operates differently from cinema because of the opportunity such as Microsoft Word® or Eastgate Story Space®. Furthermore, the nature
afforded to readers to turn back and forth across the images. Tills navigation and form of the documentary image itself is transformed through spatial
allows users to expand their understanding of the photographs by seeking out arrangements such as juxtaposition, layering or compositing (Coover 2011b;
correspondences and other relationships in the visual content and composi­ Coover et al. 2012; Manovich 2001, 2006). However, it should be added that
tion. This is a kind of non-digital hypertextuality that results in many possible the arbitrary assignment of film terms by software companies poses chal­
versions and readings of the same work. The effect is not unlike that of using lenges for new makers of motion images. The assignment is presumably
keyframes in cinematic storyboarding and editing. designed to make software terms recognizable. However, it shapes ways in
Film editing is, and, has always been, hypertextual. In celluloid editing which clips are gathered, named and placed within a project based on the
practices, clips are examined as discreet physical objects that hang from bins or logics of prior media not new ones. As few film students under the age of
are coiled on cores. They are arranged and often re-arranged into sets, which 30 have ever seen a bin or actually cut a piece of celluloid, the assignment of
are spatial configurations, and they are given tags and annotations through such terms is abstract and obscure, yet their designs impose constraints that
logs.' The clips are gathered, taped and later glued in various physical vari­ direct users in familiar directions. Other terms for the sorting and conjoining
ations. The editor fingers and scrolls through these, at times making cuts as practices might expand thinking about what time-images are and how they
much by the physical lengths of the clips as by their contents. Likewise, digital might work together.
editing environments also arrange clips, or more correctly icons that signify Berger and Mohr stress that an important difference between viewing (or
clips, spatially. Bins, timelines and menus represent forms of spatial organiza­ reading) images in a book and watching such images in a film is the forward
tion from which temporal experiences of actually watching clips are triggered. temporal force of the technology, which Berger characterizes as producing a
Where time-based viewership largely stimulates spontaneous constitutive kind of temporal anxiety caused by the technological provocation to attend to
processes (or, worldmaking), editing and other hypermedia activities more each forthcoming frame. Berger writes,
significantly emphasize conscious and reflexive constitutive processes in
which questions that are raised by one image get explored through another, Eisenstein once spoke of a 'montage of attractions'. By this he meant
or another, or another. The editing prqcess requires choice-making and selec­ that what precedes the film-cut should attract what follows it, and vice
tion. The editor may imagine and create sequences from clips in almost infi­ versa. The energy of this attraction could take the form of a contrast,
nite variations, even if, in the final result, all but one of those variations are an equivalence, a conflict, a recurrence. In each case, the cut becomes
discarded, and the rejects are forgotten along with the myriad lessons and eloquent and functions like the hinge of a metaphor . . . Yet there was i "l

i:
alternatives they may have offered. in fact an intrinsic difficulty in applying this idea to film. In a film . . .
As has been written elsewhere, hypermedia offers a superior form of edit­ there is always a third energy in play: that of the reel, that of the film's
ing (Coover et al. 2012). In providing diverse ways of moving between the running through time. And so the two attractions in a film montage are
spatial organization and temporal expression of clips, digital and interactive never equal. . . In a sequence of still photographs, however, the energy
.

tools expand the editor's reflexivity and choice-making. Digital technologies of attraction, either side of a cut, does remain equal, two way and
enable the inclusion of materials recorded or organized through differing mutual. . . . The sequence has become a field of coexistence like the field

206 207
Visual research and the new docu mentary
Roderick Coover

Forms of expression represented in the project include exposition, inter­ B. In Robbe-Grillet's


7. The relationship of memory . . . Photographs so placed are restored to a living context:
works, it might be
views, audio of Rechy reading excerpts from his books, photographs, graffiti,
of visual montage, not of course to the original context from which they were taken - that added, the fictional
language and walking stained glass imagery, dance and a comic strip narrative, and locations include a observers are always
is impossible - but to a context of experience.
was developed untrustworthy or
(Berger and Mohr 1982: 288-89) lonely path in the woods, urban barrooms, a back alley and a church confession
through a four way unsure of their
conversation between booth, among others. In short, Rechy demonslTates, there is no one mode of own experience, a
Larry McCaffery, Lance expression good for all seasons. Some of Rechy's experiences are best expressed condition that is also
Newman, Hikmet Loe In short, this kind of interplay maximizes the conscious, constitutive char­
through narration, while others require comic illuslTation, dance movements true of informants of
and Roderick Coover acteristics of documentary images in ways that resemble the experience documentary research.
(Cooveretal. 2010) and user participation. The interactive approach enables both the inclusion of,
of navigating among clips in editing programs, browsers and various other
relating experiences and the movement betweeflr these forms. The mode-shifting blurs conventional g. As happens equally
of walking in desert interactive media environments. Video clips like photos may be accessed at these days to
landscapes to the borders of documentary representation and art as well as challenging distinc­ digital media artists
various times and for diverse reasons. In similarly discussing the sequencing
development of the tions between viewing, reading and other forms of engagement. presenting imaginative
interactive, browser­ of photographs, Berger continues, 'The world they reveal, frozen, becomes and often complex
While documentary images are constitutive and may draw upon diverse
based documentary tractable'. The choice to use a navigational technique is particularly apt for digital projects to
Canyon lands (Coover modes of experience and representation, documentary conventions may audiences who may not
Berger and Mohr because they are making a project about navigating among
2011c) and works of expand or limit this constitutive potential, as for example, when images be familiar with digital
literature and land art. the associations, desires and ruptures of memory. Navigation allows users structures, Robbe­
How spatial metaphors to cross-reference images to discover formal, tropic, narrative and exposi­ primarily serve to illustrate a narration. 1his iss.ue is central to Berger and Grillet finds himself
relate to montage Mohr's discussion of how their collection of photographs maximize the fighting off common
tory significations. The ability to juxtapose and link diverse kinds of materials
and movement is ambiguity of the documentary image. Identifying ambiguity in images, preconceptions about
also addressed in expands the potential for reflexivity. The navigable spatial arrangement of the reading experiences of
Aston (2010) through a they argue, engages the imagination. The reader involves herself in the novels written in new
book enables choice and subjective temporality, where the instant forward
discussion of works by act of making meaning and in so doing, she internalizes those images and ways. The resistance
Wendy james. motion of single-channel cinema does not. Interactive documentaries may
may result from a
animates them within the context of her own life experiences - her memory.
accommodate both forms of cognition by offering a mix of temporal and navi­ seemingly natural
The reader makes meaning. By contrast, the authoritative voice (whether an human tendency to
gational experiences.7
actual voice or a productive mode) limits choices in how to read images settle for exp,eriences
Environments that bring together differing kinds of research materials can that are familiar and
and their meanings. To some degree, a viewer of such works receives a
enable users to follow the media maker's process, whether by allowing users comfortable, even
message rather than building and engagement. The supposed pay-off in when, in the back of
to read field notes and supporting documents or to follow how particular sets
exchange for this decreased activity is ease: authoritative works frequently the mind there may
of materials led to the development of an edit or argument (Coover 2003). be an awareness that
seem to be more easily (and passively) received. there may be serious
When supporting materials and data are available, the user can see how
There are significant ethical considerations involved in the relationship implications for
choices were made and consider alternatives (Coover 2011a, 2011b, 2011c, subsuming oneself
betvveen these differing forms of representation - ethical considerations that
Coover et al. 2012). The media maker is not deprived of the power to make in the apparatus of
an argument and have a voice (expressing one's ideas is among the impor­ concern relationships between form and content. For example, in his essays mass media, whether
'New novel, new man' and 'From realism to reality' (1963), French New Wave through cinema, tv,
tant reasons that individuals make works). In fact, the maker may offer many the Internet or mobile
era fiction writer and fiim-maker Alain Robbe-Grillet challenges that natu­
arguments that would not fit together in the logics of a singie-channel work. technologies.
ralism claims an unfair monopoly on the real. Robbe-Grillet explores rela­
As evidenced in works by Jeffrey Shaw, Pat Badani, Flavia Caviezel, Nitin
tionships between subjective observation and intellection construction (or
Sawhney, Kurt Fend! and Ellen Cracker (see Coover et al. 2012; Shaw et al.
rationalization).8 Making a claim for the ethical necessity of a new approach
2011) among many others, such works can express relationships between the
to writing and the relationship between form and content, Robbe-Grillet
user, maker and subject that raise interesting ethical questions about single­
counters what he considers to be misconceptions about the vanguard writ­
channel media and the messages they may convey through form.
As exemplified by the Quicktime Virtual Reality (QTVR®) based media arts
ing of the era, that the new novel: (1) imposes methods of writing, (2) erases
work, Mysteries and Desires: Searching The Worlds ofJohn Rechy (Rechy et al.
the past, (3) expels humans, (4) airos a perfect (yet presumably unobtainable)
2001), interactive environments can employ modal shifts that clarify relation­
objectivity, and (5) the novels are just too difficult. His responses might as
well apply to the uses of interactive media in documentary arts of this era.9
ships betvveen maker, viewer and subject. Mysteries and Desires is an interac­
Adapted slightly for this article, his approaches essentially argue for the crea­
tive DVD produced by the Labyrinth Project out of the University of Southern
tion (1) of works that are defined as a quest, not a theory, (2) of works that
California. The DVD presents a sort of autobiography of the writer John Rechy
participate in an evolution of a form (or with multimedia, of forms) without
whose works articulate, among othe� issues, the conditions of being queer
merely recasting old forms in new clothes, (3) of works that create participa­
in 1960s LA. The project combines scrapbook collections of interviews and
tion by drawing attention to the ambiguity of appearances and false sense of
drawings, dance, cartoon and interactive play to present a multimodal expres­
authoritative truth that genres (including documentary genres) can impose on
sion of some of the author's life experiences. A short introductory video loop
links users to one of three sections, the themes of which are 'Memories',
them, (4) of works that maximize subjectivity, (5) of works that insist on depth
and specificity as a basis for creatingwor� for broad consumption (notably, in
'Bodies' and 'Cruising'. In these sections, viewers navigate QTVR environ­
the relation to popular documentary, this might also be suggested as respect­
ments, choosing links that lead down interactive paths or into collections of
ing the intelligence of viewers and their capacity to participate as opposed to
materials. The participation required of the user to discover links in the pano­
dwnbing down works to some presumed lay - or lying down - audience),
ramic environments is thematically important in a work about the concealed
and (6) of works that do not offer ready-made meanings. Robbe-Grillet argues
methods of expression in gay cultural life in that place and era.

209
208
Roderick Coover
Visual research and the new documentary

10. Such characters in that any other choices for a writer would simply reaffirm old worlds and the
these films soon find such as Samuel Bollendorf and Abel Segretin' s Journey to the End ofCoal (www.
powers that maintain them.
their lives shaped by . honkytonk.fr/mdex.php/webdoc/) maximize fragmentary information and
a series of accidents Reflecting upon the vanguard artistic positions of European1960 and the
�aVIgation structures to draw users into intellectual (and empathetic) participa­
rather than actions. French New Wave in their essay 'Gnema of appearance' (1972), Gabriel Pearson
tion, to engage the worlds being represented by acting within them to search
11. There are practical, and Scott Rhode argue that the New Wave film-makers countered naturalism's
out information and hear opinions that one might not otherwise have access
technological tendency to resolve differences into a stable and single reality by depicting an
conditions why such to, such as American female prisoners in Public Secrets or Chinese coal miners
unstable world. Gnematic realism (or naturalism) obscures the flux and insta­
practices might have fearful of being identified talking about working conditions in Journey to the
seemed constrained
in the era of single­
bility of actuality by neatly resolving events into single and totalizing represen­
End of Coal. That these two works, notably, mix audio, text and photography,
tations. By contrast, Pearson and Rhode argue, in works of the French New
channel production, demonstrates how blurred borders become in new media. In addition, there
despite the efforts Wave such as Breathless (Godard 1959), individuals construct worlds through are projects such as those of Pixel Press (www.pixelpress.org), AKA Kurclistan
of many groups to improvisation. With no stable reality, the characters respond to the conditions
make film accessible (http://www.akakurdistan.com/), or 360 Kurdistan (http://360.tizianoproject.
at hand - to a surface of appearances. Characters must come to decisions in
as a tool of exchange org!kurdistan/), that demonstrate potential for the direct inclusion of diverse
rather than one of response to conditions of actuality for which there are no preconceived rules.
voices. N�t all works that create participatory conditions need to directly include
observation. Such Where there are no stable realities, traditional moralities are untrustworthy
efforts are wide other vmces or feedback however. These direct and immediate responses,
and cannot be relied on; rather they must be continually created and negoti­ _
ranging and include which have prov�n to be very valuable in some circumstances such as gaining
initiatives such as the ated through action and exchange. Each character must therefore define his or
reports on breaking news or identifying old photographs, may be less help­
ful � :vor�s offenng deep research in an area of the author's (or authors')
participatory film and her own ethics and live with the moral implications of choices that are made;
video projects such as
the National Film Board characters that do not sustain this engagement become objects in a system and
specialization. Responding meaningfully to extensive research projects often
of Canada Challenge powerless to it.10 Pearson and Rhode argue that this similarly offers co�ditions
for Change, that was calls for comparable levels of engagement, just as meaningful reader response
for more ethically aware engagement with images by the viewer (and, mdeed,
active 1967-1980, to to a complex book may take on forms such as critical writing, research, art
community video the maker) who must make choices. When viewers participate in making judge­
response or ?I'oup dialog. Participation may be contained within a work; or a
collectives, such ments about scenes that may be unpredictable and open-ended, the issues are
as Philadelphia's work may stimulate and engage participation as part of broader cultural proc­
Termite TV Collective internalized and made meaningful within the viewer's own internal frame­
esses. This Issue IS pomted out famously in Chronicle of a Summer, the 1961
(1992-). Common works of world-making and reflection; just as images become internalized and
film by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin. In that film, students posing broad and
issues include limited animated through the imagination in Berger and Mohr's model.
access to equipment abstract questions to passers-by on Parisian streets predictably received broad
and materials, access Such subjective engagement in meaning-making is central to ethical
and abstract answers. When the film-makers reflexively focused .attention on
to distribution and arguments raised by numerous visual research and documentary theorists
access to screening or a few subjects, they developed a middle ground between the various partici­
(see e.g. Gross et al. 1991; Renov 2004) . For example, in addressing the repre­
broadcast facilities. pants, and a search for answers resulted equally in a reflexive examination of
sentation of the subject, documentary theorist Michael Renov writes:
the questions and questioners. The result was an open-ended work that lead
to further �orks and discussions about the research process. Documentary is a
In the ethical context, greater value may be attached to the circum­
quest, and It can take many forms. Reception, too, may be framed as a quest,
stances surrounding the creative process . . . than to the final product,
and quick user-feedback responses may not be the valuable ones.
understood in the commercial arena to be the 'bottom line.' In the
instance of some ethically charged works, the openness and mutual
receptivity between filmmaker and subject may be said to extend to the 4.
relationship between the audience and the film. Open exchange may In his r�flecti n upon frequently voiced resista
? nces to difficult poetry, Charles
begin to replace the one-way delivery of ideas. This ethical challenge in Bemstem pomt out that a reader might
. � not find the experience of easy
the field of documentary practice echoes those in contemporary art and consumption �mte so trouble-free if the
reader paused to consider the appa­
philosophy that question models of mastery or absolute certainty, plac­ ratus, conventions and attending ideolo
gies that have resulted in that feel­
ing greater emphasis on open-endedness, empathy, and receptivity. ing of ease. However, in terms of the
cinematic experiences, context is also
(2004: 130) important. There are times when reader
s and viewers alike may seek out
attention-demanding and intellectually
stimulating experiences, and there
The ethical position challenges the authorjty implicit in documentary cine­ ar� other mome�ts when viewers seek
spontaneous, sensorial spectator­
ma's illusion of verisimilitude, which might rather be described as the impo­ ship. These are different, although richly
complementary, human needs and
sition of one version, carried out through the authority of the camera, over cinema touches upon both by diflering degre
es that are often anticipated by
the perspectives and subjectivities of others. However, the struggle against cont�xt. Interactive documentaries may
also be created for engagement in
such authority in single-channel film-making has long been framed in rela­ specific contexts, however convergence has
resulted in the common condi­
tion to how technological characteristics of film production and distribution tion that works made for one form or co;ntex
t are often viewed in another. The
constrained this kind of exchange. 11 multitasking con�tions of c sual Internet
� use may not provide as appropriate
The technological limits are fast changing (albeit faster in the developing a context for looking at proJects that deman
d attention as, say, a museum, a
and developed world). Projects such as Sharon Daniels' Public Secrets (vectors. dedicated library kiosk or a classroom, and
many Internet-based interactive
usc.edu/issues/4/publicsecrets/) or those based on an individual's experiences documentaries may not do enough to frame,
or reframe, reception contexts.

210

�-��-
211

;__________________...._
. ________ __
Roderick Coover
Visual research and the new documentary

12. works such as Loss The discussant's response to complex works cited at the beginning of Coover, Roderick (2001), 'Wor
Pequei'io Glazier's ldmaking, metaphors, and
the article demonstrates that there are patterns of using media that come representation of cultures: Cros montage in the
Digital Poetics (2001), s-cultural filmmaking and the poeti
Lev Manovich's from differing traditions such as viewing television, reading books or look­ Gardner's Forest Of Bliss', Visua cs ofRobert
l Anthropology, Vol. 14: 4, pp. 415-433.
Language of New ing at gallery exhibitions. The discussant's difficulty in satisfactorily digesting -- (2003), Cultures m Webs:
Media (2001) and Workingin Hypermedia with the Document
a multimedia documentary the night before the conference may have been a Image, Interactive CD-ROM, Cam ary
Step hen johnson's bridge: Eastgate.
Interface Culture (1997) condition of context. Looking at works on the Web brings them into a multi­ -- (2011a), 'The digital pano
rama and cinemascapes', in Thom
propose ways in which tasking environment of distracted engagement that is very different from as Bartscherer
and Rodenck Coover (eds),
forms of media alter Switching Codes: Thinking Through Digital
terms of understanding looking at an interactive work in a dedicated space, just as viewing a movie on Technology m the Humanztles and
Arts, Chicago: University of Chic
and use, and that these a mobile device while travelling about a city on subways offers a very different Press, pp. 199-217. ago
terms, in turn, alter
experience from watching the same movie in a cinema. As with many kinds of -- (2011b), 'Interactive med
practice, product and ia representation', in Eric Mar
scholarly and literary books, non-fiction visual research projects often take a golis and Luc
modes of enquiry. Pauwels (eds), The SAGE Han
dbook of Visual Research Methods Lond
lot of time and attention to make, and they often take plenty of time and atten­ SAGE Publications Inc., pp. 617- on··

638. '
tion to view as well. Many cannot be viewed in a single sitting, while others -- (20llc), 'Canyonlands',
Unknown Territories Project,
may require a combination of viewing, reading and/or other intellectual activ­ www.unknownte­
mtones.org. Accessed 11 January
2011.
ity. As media converge, it therefore may be necessary to establish conditions �
Co ver, Roderick, McCaffery,
Larry, Newman, Lance and Loe,
by which once differing media are framed for reception and engagement.12 Hikmet (2010),
A dialogue about the desert'.
Roderick Coover, Larry McCaffery
Digital juxtaposing, layering, merging and manipulation expand ways Newman and Hikmet Loe', , Lance
Electronic Book Review, Febr
to draw out and articulate significations within and between images. Such uary, http://
ww.w electrorucboo
krevtew.com/thread/criticalecol
ogies/ecoconnected.
methods may draw users into active processes of building connections and Accessed 1 March 2012.
making choices. Such methods may blur and reframe the activities of read­ -- (2012), 'Digital technologi
. es, visual research and the non-
ing, viewing, wurldmaking and meaning-making. In research, they enable a fiction image',
m Sarah Pmk (ed.)
, Advances in Visual Methodolo
mixing of such modes to bridge the experiences of production and presenta­
gy, London and Los
Angeles: Sage, pp. 191-209.
tion, and they allow users to engage with those same processes and choices. Daniels, Sharon (2007), 'Pub
lic secrets', http://vectors.usc.
While creating these conditions for deep reads and viewing experiences may _ edu/issues/4/
publicsec rets/. Accessed 11 November 2011
.
be all the harder to do in the age of multiple, simultaneous and streaming Eisenstein, Sergei (1975), The Film
Sense (ed. and trans. Jay Leyda), New
media, that may signal all the more reason to do it - to escape from distrac­ Harcourt, Brace and World. York:
tion to attention. -- (1977), Film Form: Essays
In Film Theory (ed. and trans. jay Leyd
D1ego: Harcourt. a), San
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ace Cultu
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Secrets' and 'Blood s u gar'
SUGGESTED CITATION
Coover, R. (2012), 'Visual research and the new documentary', Studies in
ABSTRACT
Documentary Film, 6: 2, pp. 203-214, doi: 10.1386/sd£.6.2.203_1 KEYWORDS
��:�;r�
This article presents an in-depth, theorized
. discussion of two database-driven new
mentaries, 'Public Secrets' (http://publicsec art
CONTRIBUTOR DETAILS ret.net) and 'Blood Sugar' activism
. ·. o� andsugar.ne� as case studies of hybrid
Some of Roderick Coover's recent projects include Switching Codes: Thinking forms of art, scholarship and interface design
achvzsm. Publzc Secrets and 'Blood Suga
Through Digital Technology in the Humanities and Arts (University of Chicago r' represent the first half of a series of
wo�ks that �re the result of a sustained information
Press), Unknown Territories (Unknownterritories.org), From Verite to Virtual collaboration with human rights organi­
zahon, Justice Now, HEPPAC (the HW architecture
Education and Prroention Pro am
Z:V Z
(Documentary Educational Resources) and The Theory of Time Here (Video Alameda County), ezght _ een politics
homeless injection drug users, and twen

��
om
%
Data Bank). A recipient of Mellon, LEF, Whiting and Fulbright awards, Dr zncarcerated at the largest female correction testimony
Coover is Associate Professor of Film and Media Arts at Temple University, al facility in the United s tes. For
b t of these groups, zn;echon drug users
where he teaches courses in visual research, experimental media arts, and living outside the norms of society in the
s a ow of the cnmmal JUStice system and
women trapped inside the rison s stem
thezr r;cord�d statement; are acts of jurid
.
� �
cinema. More at wvvw.roderickcoover.com
r
Se ets and Blood Sugar bnng their voice
ical and political testi ony. ubli�
Contact: Film and Media Arts Department, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: rcoover@temple.edu : and soaa/ theonsts. The article explores
_ const
s into dialogue with other, /ego/ politi­
how, in these specific cases, i�teiface
eszgn itutes a form of 'argument' (as writing does
for a scholar), and user
Roderick Coover has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and navzgahon funchons as a form of 'enquiry'
(a distillation and translation of the
research enc?u�ter of the Documentary-m
Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work in the format that
was submitted to Intellect Ltd. �� aker). The author addresses the tensions
d contradzchons that emerge between the goals
of theory and aesthetics and those
I
o1 advocacy and actlvzsm.

I •
111
11 1 111..1
214
215
Sharon Daniel On politics and aesthetics

exists a connection between art and politics, it should be cast in In what follows, I will use two of my own database documentary projects
If there
terms of dissensus . . .. as cas � stu�es
. that demonstrate �s premise - providing functional examples
. , , .
(Ranciere 2010) of the political by stagmg equality' and enabling political subjectivation.

Like many artists, I am troubled by a question - one that has become a METHOD AND FORM
kind of refrain - what is the political efficacy of art? This is not a question of
criteria for the political evaluation of works of art - their correctness, their The efficacy of art resides not in the model (or counter-model) ofbehav­
radicalism, their affective power or critical acuity. The question that trou­ ior U:at it provides, but first and foremost in partitions of space and time
bles me goes beyond interrogating the power of representation. It is about that 1t p�oduces :o define ways of being together or separate, being in
the tensions and contradictions that emerge between the goals of theory front or m the rruddle of, being inside or outside, etc.
and aesthetics and those of political activism. It is a question of how to (Ranciere 2010)
re-imagine the political and the aesthetic, in tandem. To address this ques­
tion will require setting aside the common definition of 'politics', localized 'Public Secrets' (http://publicsecret.net) and 'Blood Sugar' (http://blood­
in the state and reduced to the struggle for power, and the common view andsugar.net) provide interactive interfaces to online audio archives of
of 'art' as confined to the realm of the cultural (restricted from entering the conversations r�corded with incarcerated women and injection drug users.
space of power) and adopting, for the moment, the vocabulary of French These are the first two works in a series designed to allow individuals from
philosopher jacques Ranciere. For Ranciere, politics is not the exerctse of what Ranciere identifies as 'the part that has no part', to testify to the social
power. Rather, art and politics each consist in the ':ffects of eq� ali� that and �c?no�ic injustices tt:ey experience in the context of a broad spectnun of
.
they stage' through 'forms of innovation that tear bodies from therr asstgned public �shtutions - the cnminal justice system, the prison industrial complex,
places and free speech and expression'.(Ranciere 2010: 37-38, 60). the public health system, and the public education system.
1 do not pretend to any sort of analysis of Ranciere's thought here. (I am In this work, my role is that of a context-provider. I provide the means,
not a Ranciereian scholar and that is not my brief.) I only intend to appro­ or :ools that will induce others to speak for themselves, and the context in
priate and interpret selected terms from his lexicon to construct a theoretical which they may be heard. I engage with groups of participants who live at
space in which to explore the question ·of the political efficacy of art. the margins, outside the social order, and attempt to create a space for the
I am much less interested in Ranciere's analysis of the 'politics of aesthetics' - assertion of their political subjectivity. The process of subjectivation occurs
i.e. his 'regimes' and his critique of contemporary movements- than I am in both in speaking and being heard. For injection drug users living outside the
his 'aesthetics of politics'. Ranciere is actually quite sceptical of political art and norms of society in the shadow of the criminal justice system, and women
wary of its 'schizophrenic movement' betvveen the museum and its 'o�tside' trapped inside the prison system, the statements they make, and allow me to
(2010: 1919-22). It is what he allows art and politics to share - the notion of record, are acts of juridical and political testimony. If amplified and contex­
dissensus and the redistribution of the sensible - that I find useful. tualized, therr speech can turn the capacity for empathetic response towards
broader social and personal change.
Art and politics each define a form of dissensus [ . . .] if there is
such In the space circumscribed by subjectivizing speech and transformative

thing as an 'aesthetics of politics', it lies in a re-configura �on of �e understanding, there exists a productive tension between the particularities
. ation of in�vidual hist�ries that are, in one sense, the most compelling aspects of
distribution of the common through political processes of subJechv
we, narrative persuasiOn, and the force capacity of the collective voice. Where
[ . . . ] The 'aesthetics of politics' consists above all in the framing of a
e demons tration whose emergen ce is the element one v�ice, an individual story, is intended to stand in for a class of subjects,
a subject, a collectiv
the there IS � dangerous and disabling tendency to identify the subject as a case
that disrupts the distribution of social parts, an element that I call
of a trag:tcally flawed character or unusually unfortunate victim of aberrant
part of those who have no part.
(Ranciere 2010) injustice - rather than one among many affected by structural inequality.
':"hen multiple VOices speak, in a manner that is intimate and personal, collec­
For Ranciere, what defines politics is a particular kind of speech situation ­ tive and performative, from the same experience of marginalization, the scale
when those who are excluded from the political order or included in only and scope of injustice is forcefully revealed.
a subordinate way stand up and speak for themselves. For me, this defines For example, before I started visiting the California Correctional Women's
the form of artistic work that I will call 'database documentary' or 'idocs'. Facility (CCWF) in 2002, I held, on an intellectual level, a rather typical, liberal
Through this form of practice, I appropriate Ranciere's formulation of poli­ distaste for the idea of prisons but, like many, I had not seriously questioned
tics and transpose it into the register of art, thus materializing a space of my assumptions about justice and punishment. I assumed that those who
'dissensus' - not a critique, or a protest, but a confrontation of the status quo were being punished had committed crimes and that by and large the punish­
with what it does not admit, what is invisible, inaudible and othered. I do not ment they received would be just. I ifnagined that cases of prosecutorial
wish to make claims of political efficacy (as commonly understood) for data­ malpractice, racial bias, human rights violations and wrongful conviction were
base documentary, but instead to identify and describe a genre and method the tragic but rare stuff of investigatory journalism and documentary film. But
that can function as 'politics' in Ranciere's terms - a politics that I believe has after spending time at the prison - after meeting the women inside and, visit
the potential to circumvent the intransigence of the state. after visit, hearing one after another testify to the same injustices, the same

216 217
Sharon Daniel
On politics and aesthetics

egregious, pervasive, human rights violations - the weight of the evidence,


the repetition, the shared experience threaded through the vast amount of
testimony, changed my assumptions and destroyed my complacence.
My goal as an artist is to provide a parallel of this experience to the public.
My strategy involves addressing an issue, context or marginalized community
as a 'site' (or scene or field) rather than through a story or individual narra­
tive. I collect a significant amount of direct testimony from a 'site'. Then I
design an interface structured in a manner that will both circumscribe and
describe this 'site' of socio-economic and political experience as articulated by
the participants. Rather than building a single road across that site to get from
point A to point B (or the beginning of an argument to its resolution), the
design maps out an extensive territory- say, 100 square miles - and the inter­
face sets the viewer down within the boundaries of this territory - allowing
her to find her own way - to navigate a difficult terrain, to become immersed
in it, and thus to have a transformative experience. The interface and informa­
tion design constitute a form of 'argument' (as writing does for a scholar), and ENTER; >
by Sharon Daniel
a user's navigation becomes a path of 'enquiry' (a distillation and translation
TOPICS �
of the encounter through which the speech of the participants emerged.) tlas!gubyEn1illlyar WHATYOU CAN DO�
I think of as anecdotal theory
EX!T �
The data and interface are framed by what
(after Michael Taussig and Jane Gallop), which combines narratives drawn
from my encounter with my interlocutors, annotated research and analysis. Figur e 1: 'Public Secrets' screen shot of splash page.
The
The passages of anecdotal theory, which can be found i n the introductions and ove: zntr_od�ction that zs zntended to address issues of piece begins with a voice­
access and privilege - the
conclusions, as well as dispersed throughout the works, create a point of entry soc1etal znstde and outside.
that allows the audience to become immersed in the 'subjective plurality' that
is manifest in the 'site'. Taken together, the recorded interviews or conver­
sations, the information and interaction design and theoretical framework, �
The atroci that ha� come to be
known as �mass incarceration' is
possi­
materialize the Ranciereian 'political', creating a space of 'dissensus' both for ble �ecause It_
IS a public secre t - a
secret kept in an unacknowledge
participants and for viewers - one that introduces new subjects into the field pubhc agreement not to know. The d but
public perception of justice _ the
Its appearance figure of
of perception. (Ranciere 2007: 65). elies n the ublic not acknowledging
�� � � that which is gener­
ally known. This IS the Ideologtca
l work that the prison does. Femi
nist Legal
Scholar Catherine MacKinnon has
analysed the cultural pattern by whic
DESIGN AND ARGUMENT are able to deny, Ignore and assimilate h we
atrocities that occur locally and globa
While my two case studies, 'Public Secrets' and 'Blood Sugar', are companion �n a daily basis - 13efore atrocities lly
are recognized as such, they are autho
pieces that are very closely related in terms of content, participant-group, tively re Mded a either too extra rita­
? � ordinary to be believable or too ordin
_ ary to
socio-political argument and visual identity, their underlying information be atrocrous [ . . ] iht's
. happening, it's not so bad, and if
it's really bad, it isn't
architectures and resulting interaction designs reflect two significantly differ­ happening' (2007: 3).
ent types of interview content. When something is both too viola
ting and too ordinary or pervasive
to be
i
The 'site', or space of dissensus, produced through the project 'Public acknowledged, the 'public secret'
is in play. Its structure is that of an
Secrets' consists of approximately 500 statements made by incarcerated �
an mesolvab e temal contradicti
� on. �Public Secrets' is built on this
apori
concept.
a_

women. Their testimony, taken from conversations recorded over a period The three pnnc1ple branches of navig
ation, inside/outside, bare-life/human
of six years, reveals the secret injustices of the war on drugs, the criminal life �d public secret/utopia, are ­
structured as aporia. Each aporia
justice system and the prison industrial complex. These narratives of first­ �
m tiple themes and threads elabo
rated in clusters of narrative, theory
frames

hand experience represent the kind of 'speech situation' that Ranciere argues
� �
eVI��nce. To ether, t ey explore the
space of the prison - physical, econo
and
mic,
constitutes all the 'diverse historical instances of politics' (2010: 97-101). And political and Ideologtca l- and how
the space of the prison acts back
space outside to disrupt and, in effect on the
'Public Secrets' performs a further 'staging of equality', or disruption of the
, undermine the very forms of legali
secunty and freedom that the priso ty,
hierarchical status quo, by bringing the voices of these incarcerated women n system purportedly protects.
into dialogue with those of other legal, political and social theorists such as In the mterface, the recorded statem
ents made by incarcerated women
Giorgio Agamben, Michael Taussig, Walter Benjamin, Fredric Jameson, excerpts from theoretical texts, are and

Catherine Mac!Gnnon and Angela Davis. While this is a dialogue that I have mg constellations orgaruzed by topic,
displayed algorithmically in constantly

hift­
theory and speaker. Instead of imag
mterface IS constructed out of quot ery, the
constructed, by design, between interlocutors whose perspectives originate es. Each screen or view constitutes
a kind of
from very diverse social locations, for me all of their voices emerge out of a en:ergent and tr�sient multi vocal
� � text. These text/views are framed by
animated
shared ethos and converge in critical dissent. vmce-over narration - m the mtrod
uction, a piece of anecdotal theory
walks the

218
219
Sharon Daniel

On politics and aesthetics

Figure 2: 'Public Secrets' screen shot. Each aporia is introduced in a screen view
Figure 3: 'Public Secrets' screen shot.
that is split horizontally between its two states -for example, as seen here, 'inside' Screen view of 'life inside' topical arra
in

Whlch mcarcer ted wo�en is ss their
%
and 'outside'. By rolling aver a quote, viewers trigger its corresponding audio clip -
clicking on the quote opens a new screen viW - selecting a clip on the 'inside' half
� � �
a counts of thezr own lives tnSlde the priso
status as social outsiders and praoi e
n. A panel at the top ofthe activated
q ate-block allows VIewers to open a corre
of the aporia screen view leads to a new screen view with more quotes related to sponding transcript while listening and
'life inside'.
another1 panel at the bottom with 'More·
.
exar:zp e, each quote dzspl
· -- ·
' leads to a new screen vzew . For
ayed in this view opens to a new view
top1c related to 'life inside'. on a particular
viewer across the boundary between inside and outside, and in the conclusion a
voice-over leads to an advocacy tool-kit titled 'what you can do'.
Editor Tara McPherson's introduction to the publication of 'Public Secrets'
in the Vectors Journal describes her experience of navigating its interface:

The design of the project - its algorithmic structure - calls one's atten­
tion to the shifting borders between inside and outside, incarceration
and freedom, oppression and resistance, despair and hope. Through
navigation of the piece, the fine lines demarcating these binaries morph,
shift, and reconfigure. Rather, inside and outside mutually determine
and construct one another illuminating relations between individual
experiences and broader social systems.
(2007, http://vectors.usc.edu/projects/index.php?project=57)

'Blood Sugar', the second work in this seri.es of database documentaries,


exposes the social stigmatization and resulting criminalization, of poverty

1'
and addiction, through many hours of conversation with injection drug users
amme and HN prevention centre in
1
recorded at a needle exchange progr
Oakland, California.
In contrast to the array-like structure of 'Public Secrets', which allows
the women to speak collectively on topics that arose repeatedly in all of our I
Il
conversations, the interviews in 'Blood Sugar' are kept intact and whole. This Figure 4: 'Public Secrets' screen shot. Whe
n 'view connections' appears in the anel
:e
significant difference between the two projects in both interface and infor­ at the bottom ofa selected block it leads
to new kind of screen space that acces
mation design is due to qualitative differences in the nature of the interviews assoczations between ztems of content based s
on conceptual themes and threads.

'I!
11!
220

22>
Sharon Daniel
On politics and aesthetics

1. Reference to the
commonly used
moniker that became
the title of the book
Righteous Dopefiend
by Philippe Bourgois
and ]eff Shonberg
(Berkeley, University of
California Press, 2009).

I.
Figure 5: 'Blood Sugar' screen shot.
�igure 6: 'Blood ?ugar' screen shot. Viewers can select an 'audio body' and allow 1
1t to play, zoom m and 'get closer' by clicking on it, or 'scrub'
I
themselves. The women who offered their testimony in 'Public Secrets' through to select a
new pomt m the mterview by clicking mz one ofthe quotes
were, for the most part, highly politicized. They consciously welcomed the
movmg the play head on the left side of the screen.
floating around it or by
opportunity to join their fellow prisoners, speaking to a variety of issues in
a collective voice. By entering the prison as a 'legal advocate', I was able to
interview most of the participants on multiple occasions and in a confiden­ � � �
of a dicti n - a the boundary of the skin.
The metaphor for interaction is
tial setting. Over time, I gathered considerable material, both personal histo­ the z�om , the Idea that we must 'get
closer', we must not look away, we
ries and political opinions that crossed a wide range of topics in which all must, m a certam _
se��e, pass through the looking glass -
in order to see and
the women shared concerns. understand the realities of the lived exper
ience of one of the most nnpoli-
In contrast, I interviewed most of the addicts whose voices are heard in tic, soc1·a11Y 'athered, - the street junkie. The
·

interface is designed to draw


'Blood Sugar' only once. The setting where most of the interviews were held,
during group therapy and education sessions at a hann-reduction-based social
service facility, influenced the nature of our conversations. None of the addicts
I met at the exchange presented the identity of the 'righteous dope fiend','
which is, very likely, the identity they commonly present on the street. On the
contrary, each act of self-narration began with a kind of confession of weakness
or disease. The messy details of each life history would then unfold according
to the syntax and grammar of the disease-and-recovery discourse that is learnt
in the type of quasi-therapeutic setting where we met. For the most part, my
interlocutors did not frame their accounts in terms of social critique or analysis.
Their focus was more on self-reflection than social criticism.
For this reason, I decided that the interviews should be available in their
entirety as continuous narratives and that the interface should present each
interlocutor as both a subject and a body. c;:;raphically, each participant is
represented as a vertical waveform or 'audio-body' and functionally each
interview can be listened to or 'scrubbed' through in continuous, linear form.
While complete in themselves, the individual 'audio-bodies' that represent
each interview are linked together through what I considered as 'parasitic'
connections revealed in their stories of pain, violence, abuse and oppression.
These links allow the viewer to cross from one story to another to follow a Figure 7: 'Blood Sugar' screen shot. 'ParasiHc' links appear
as small black holes
thread of shared experience. (labeled 'abuse', 'despair', etc.) thatfloat through the screen
. space once the viewer
The space the audio-bodies inhabit and the way they are encountered by has �oomed u� to an audw body and reached its 'nucleus'
. view. The names of
the viewer is structured in terms of both the social and biological construction parhczpants lmked-to appear on roll-over.

222
223
On politics and aesthetics
Sharon Daniel

the llucleus of Figure 10: 'Blood Sugar' screen shot showing active 'question' text.
Figure 8: 'Blood Sugar' screell shot. Here the 'zoom' has pmetrated
activate s colltellt that is focused oil the bzologzcal expenellce
the audio body which
of addictioll. what I learnt about addiction through my encounters with addicts and my
research into the neurobiology of addiction. They are intended as a point of
you in - first navigating the external/social space of eac� partic�pants' story suture or identification that should guide the viewer's education in parallel to
.
and then gradually moving towards what 15 embedded m the mtemal, the mine. It is an education that I feel must be shared, across the socio-economic
biological - metaphorically penetrating the skin. and political spectrum, to foster effective resistance to the criminalization of
The interviews are framed by anecdotal theory through a series of'ques�on illness, poverty and the lack of comprehensive public health care - because,
texts' and my own audio-body, which is seen and heard in the introduction as the piece concludes, we are all living with addiction.
and conclusion. The fourteen 'question texts' respond to a set �f some��at
rhetorical questions - posed from the perspective of the enfra�chise pohtic � � FICTIONS AND REALITIES
subject - such as 'what do we hold against the drug adrl! ct? The answers
. the form of An interview is a performance of something true but not necessarily or
to these questions carry the principal argument of the p1ece m
always factual. It takes flight, lands somewhere between emotional truth and
a narrative. The texts relate the story of my own transformative education -
constructed memory, is always inflected by the context of the interlocution
and the potential for misrecognition. I don't assume that the men and women
who allowed me to record our conversations at the needle exchange and in
the prison offered natural, objective descriptions of an unambiguous real­
ity. An interview is always an affective encounter. The definition of 'affect'
I''
I,' '
includes, 'asstune' and 'pretend'. The interview is a 'fiction', as articulated by
Ranciere - not the opposite of 'real' but a reframing of the 'real' - a way of
building new relationships between reality and appearance, the individual
and the collective (Rancii'"e 2007: 35-41). I
The personal narratives of those trapped in poverty and addiction are I
a very particular form of 'fiction' in this sense. They resist translation into
rational linear form - they loop and repeat - they are both horrifically compel­
ling in their individual accounts of personal tragedy and astonishingly similar
across the board. Addict's stories, especially, can be frustrating and incompre­
hensible. 1his is part of the nature of the disease. Their historical trajectories
are not logical. They do not advance in, a traditional narrative arc or resolve
in a satisfying conclusion. To understand and empathize, to hear and accept,
a listener must be moved beyond the logic of cause and effect and into the
realm of affect. Taking affect and 'fiction' seriously may be the point where
'real' 'politics' begins. (Bertelsen and Murphie 2010: 2065-67).
Figure 9: 'Blood Sugar' screm shot showi1Zg the author's introduction.

225
224
Sharon Daniel
O n politics and aesthetics

CONCLUSION CONTRIBUTOR DETAILS


What is the political efficacy of Art? Despite his insistence on 'aesthetic indif­ Sharon Daniel is an artist who produ
ces new media documentary projects
ference' ('a film remains a film', etc.) and the 'aesthetic cut' (what separates that reveal hwnan rights abuses acros
s a spectrum of public institutions.
'consequences from intentions'), Ranciere acknowledges: employs digital technologies, docum She
entary practices and humanities-base
analysis to examine how state instit d
utions, social structures and econo
There is no 'real world' that functions as the outside of art [ . . . ] There mic
conditions (from inequality in health
care and education to racial and econo
is no 'real world'. Instead, there are definite configurations of what is discrimination in the justice system) mic
produce social injustices and undermine
given as our real, as the object of our perceptions and the field of our domestic human �ghts Dani l's work
: : has been exhibited internationally
interventions. The real always is a matter of construction, a matter of museums and festivals mcluding, WRO at
media art biennial (Poland), Artefact
'fiction' . . . 2010 (Belgium), Transmediale 08
(Germany), the ISENZeroOne festiv
(2010: 1967-73) (2006 and 2010), the Dutch Electronic al
Arts Festival DEAF03 (Netherlands),
Ars Electronica (Austria), the Lincoln
Center Festival (NY/USA) the Corco
The configurations and constructions that database documentary, as an art ran
Biennial (Washington, DC) and the
practice that facilitates · political subjectivation, allows constitute a field of on the Internet. Her essays have been

University of Paris I (Fran e), as well
as
published in books including Contex
intervention that maps directly onto and into 'politics', re-imagining and Pravtders (Intellect Press, 2011), Database Aesth t
etics (Minnesota University
reconstructing the 'fictions' of the real. Such acts of subjectivation attempt P�ess, 2007) and the Sarai Reader05,
as well as in professional journals such
to undo the status quo and implement the only universal in politics: we � mema Journal, Leo�ardo and Springerin. Daniel has as
been awarded the prestig­
!,
are all equal' (Ranciere 2007: 86). But there is still the problem of the 'real' IOUS Rockefellerffnbeca
Film Festival New Media Fellowship
and honoured
that is manifest in the operations of power. There is the difficulty of the
material realities my interlocutors experience despite their political subjec­
by the Webby Awards. Daniel is a
Media MFA programme at the Unive
Professor in the Digital Arts and New
rsity of California, Santa Cruz, where
i" j
tivation - realities that are the result of structural inequality. To get to 'we she
teaches classes in digital media theor
y and practice.
are all equal' will require relocating politics, in a fundamental and material
way, outside the logic of the state. Clearly, the state is not susceptible to the Contact: 355 1" Street #S1508, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA.
persuasions of art, or, necessarily, the politicized speech of 'the part that
has no part', but if art can produce new political subjects who generate new Sharon Daniel has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and
'fictions' of the real, it can change both the conversation and who is partici­ Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work In the format that
pating in it. Each event, each body, carries the affective potential for things was submitted to Intellect Ltd.
to turn out differently.

REFERENCES
Bourgois, Philippe and Shonberg, Jeff (2009), Righteous Dopeftend, Berkeley:
University of California Press,
Ranciere, Jacques (2007), The Politics ofAesthetics (trans. G. Rockhill), London:
Continuum.
-- (2010), Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (trans. S. Corcoran), London:
Continuum, Kindle edition.
MacKinnon, Catherine (2007), Are Women Human? And Other International
Dialogues, Cambridge: Belknap-Harvard University Press.
McPherson, Tara (2007), 'Editor's introduction to "Public Secrets"', Vectors
Joumal, 4, http://vectors.usc.edu/projects/index.php?project=57. Accessed
December 1, 2011.
Bertelsen, Lone and Murphie, Andrew (2010), 'An ethics of everyday infinities
and powers: Felix Guattari on affect and the refrain', in M. Gregg and G. J.
Seigworth (eds), The Affect Theory Reader, Durham: Duke University Press.
pg. 138-160.

SUGGESTED CITATION
Daniel, S. (2012), 'On politics and aesthetics: A case study of 'Public Secrets'
and 'Blood Sugar'', Studies in Documentary Film, 6: 2, pp. 215-227,
doi: 10.1386/sd£.6.2.215_1

226
227
SDF 6 (2) pp. 229-242 Intellect Limited 2on

Studies in Documentary Film


Volume 6 Number 2
© 20I2 1ntellect Ltd Article. English language. doi: lO.l386/sdf.6.2.229_1

ARNAU GIFREU CASTELLS


Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)

The case of Guernika1 pintura


de Guerra� the fi rst Catalan
Transnationa! Cinemas
i nteractive documentary
Tran s n at i o n a l C i n e m as p roject
ISSN 2040-3526 ! On l i n e ISSN 2040-3534
3 issues per vol u m e I Vol u me 6, 2012
ABSTRACT KEYWORDS

.
This case study sheds light on the interactive documentary genre, which is a result interactive non-fiction
Aims and Scope . .

Transnational Cinemas has emerg ed in


respon se to a sh1ft 1n global film of a double fusion between the audio-visual (documentary genre) and interaction interactive
ic new mdust nal and (interactive digital media), and between information (content) and entertainment documentary
cultures and how we understand them. Dynam Principal Editors
establ ished throug hout the world and the Arm ida de la Garza (interactive interfaces). Interactive documentaries combine the modes for represent­ Internet
textual practices are being
unity is respo nding . Our journa l a1ms to break down XiJn jiJotong · Liverpool University ing reality proposed by Bill Nichols with new methods ofnavigation and interaction. navigation and
acade mic comm Armida.delagarza@xjtlu.cdu en
mes submi SSions that Through this case study, definition is proposed ofwhat is meant by modes of repre­
traditi onal geogr aphica l divisio ns and welco interaction modes
l film makin g. sentation, navigation and interaction, along with an enumeration and classification information
renect the chang ing nature of globa Oeborah Shaw
Portsmouth University of navigation and interaction types. All theoretical research about the classifications entertainment
dcborah.shawG!Jport acuk
Call for Papers . of the audio-visual documentary and forms of interaction and navigation of the
Transnational Cinemas covers a vast and
divers e range of fi l m related Ruth Doughty interactive documentary apply to the project Guernika, pintura de guerra. This is
subjects. it provides a new and exciti ng forum for d1ssem matm
g Portsmouth University considered to be thefirst Catalan documentary of this format and nature.
s are seekm g article s, 1nterv 1ews, v1sual essays, ruth.doughty@port ac. uk
research. The editor
s should be u p to 6,ooo
reports o n film festivals and conferences. Article
n i n Englis h, with all quotatiOns
words i n length and should be writte
translated.

Intel lect is an independent academic publisher of books and jou rnals, to vi� w ou � catalogue or ord er our titles �isit
_ . 229
www.inte!!ectbooks.com or E.-mail: journals@Jintellectbooks.com. lntel lect, 1 he Milt Parnal! Road, Fishponds, Bnstol, UK, BS16 3JG.
Arnau Gifreu castells
The case of Guernika, pintura de Guerra, ..

1. CCRTV lnteractiva is
the company run by
1. INTRODUCTION ? �
a dition information, including analysis of the painting, documents, inter­ 3. The digitalization
CCMA- the Catalan In the current ecosystem of digital media, how to display information quickly VI:w�, ��o�aphies and games. The added value was based on the fact that of television allows
Audiovisual Media becomes appreciated when we see how traditional media and related audio­
.
this Imtiative �
com ined the extensive experience of 30 minutes, the leading the opportunity of
interaction between
Corporation - which
provides interactive visual productions (fiction and nonfiction) have increasingly given way to p�ogramme for maJor reports and documentaries for the 1V3 news services the user and channel
services for TV3 and the creation of projects that hybridize information (content) and entertain­ With new generation interactive applications developed by CCR1V Interactiva : in the media,
Catalunya Radio.
Website available at:
ment (fun). Incorporating interactivity takes this one step further by allowing � _ wa� a new way of watching television and conceiving of an audio­
short, It
traditionally passive
and linear. To enhance
_
VIsual production from a multiplatform perspective. The regional television
httpJ/www.interactiva. the participation and involvement of the user. The formats have created new this relationship in
cat/. ch�el explained that the documentary was shown on a double screen: one terms of interactivity,
platforms for interactive display capable of collecting various types of content it is necessary to
2. Haiku Media is an and achieving a break from the linearity of the prevailing discourse of more showmg the documentary and another with a menu providing interactive have a back channel
agency focusing on traditional formats. ac:es� to a lar�e amo�t of additional information, such as analysis of the information, currently
the creation and pamting, U _ :tern ws, additional
. documentation and games. provided by MHP
execution of strategic Thanks to technical and stylistic developments, today we begin to think in : devices.
_
TeleVIsiOn VIewers with an interactive DTT decoder and MHP3 could
and interactive terms of 'multimedia' and 'interactive' and associate them with the complex
marketing projects terrain of documentary making. In this ecosystem, a new format has emerged consult all the information in the interactive content, both while the docu­
including websites,
applications for that is still in its definition phase, the 'interactive documentary'. It is diffi­ mentary was being broadcast and on subsequent days. They could also play
e-commerce and social cult to determine the limits of this new format and also to prophesy about an intera�tiv� question and answer game related to the content of the report.
networks, multimedia Mean�hile, m a further development of the interactive television experience,
the future of this new means of communication. The aim here is to examine
presentations, online
advertising and how digital technologies transform the logic of creation and production of the � versto� of the content was developed for users of the Media Center, where
collateral marketing. _
m addition to further information about Guernika, users could also access extra
audio-visual documentary through a specific case study.
Website avai lable at: mat�rial fron : the document� such as interviews, documents and images
httpJ/www.haiku­
media.com/Home.aspx. �
not mc uded m the montage. VIewers were also able to experience new ways
.
2. CONCEPT AND DESCRIPTION of Vlewmg the content of Guernika, pintura de guerra, which linked the images
Technical details �
m t e doc�ent� and the content in the application using remote-control­

Project name: Guernika, War Painting/Guernika, pintura de guerra


�ed mteractiVI�- Fmally, � interactive legacy of this interactive digital format
IS the completion of the mteractive content with a website where users can
URL: http://www.tv3.cat/30minuts/guemica/home/home.htrn
browse the extensive content related to the history of the painting and view
Produced: 2006, Spaln
the documentary, as well as additional interactive material. This interactive
Company/producer: Interactiva CCRTV' and Haiku Media' documentary also includes the Shafrazi Experience application, where users
can become 'Tony Shafrazi' - the man who spray-painted Guemika in 1970
The German air force, 70 years ago, on the orders of General Franco, bombed
Guemika, the sacred city of the Basques. The brutal attack inspired Picasso to
paint his masterpiece: Guernika. Since then, the painting has become a univer­
sal condellU1ation of the savagery of war. This idea led to the creation of a linear
documentary called Guernika: War Painting, a project produced during 2006 by
the prestigious team of Televisi6 de Catalunya's 30 minutes programme.
The novelty and importance of this documentary lies in the fact that,
in addition to the production of the audio-visual documentary, Interactiva
CCRTV worked with the 30 minutes team to produce three pieces of interac­
tive content that users were able to consult using three different platforms:
the web, digital terrestrial television (DTI) and Windows Media Center. The
Windows Media Center is a software module designed for digital entertain­
ment through television and designed for the operating system Microsoft
Windows XP and Vista. This additional content explored the format of the
interactive documentary and broadened the1 viewer's experience beyond
the conventional documentary. The three applications included information
on the history and provenance of Guernika, an analysis of the iconography,
composition and conservation of the painting, and biographies of those who
have had a close relationship with Picasso's masterpiece.
With Guernika, pintura de guerra, Televisi6 de Catalunya created an inno­
vative interactive experience. The documentary programme 30 minutes on the
painting's history was broadcast on television on Sunday 21 January 2007, as
well as simultaneously on three digital platforms: DTT, Media Center and an
Internet website. 1his enabled viewers to interactively access a great deal of Figure 1: Interactive format using conventional television.

230
231
The case of Guernika, pintura de Guerra, ...
Arnau Gifreu Caste lis

representation) to different ways or scenarios that the interactive authors offer


4. Available at: http// to their users through technology (non-linear navigation and interaction
WWW.tv3.CaV30minuts/
guernica/home/home. modes). Particularly, this case study proposes modalities for navigation and
htm. interaction, as follows:
s. Available at: http//
prod.promaxbda.org/ 1. These modalities offer different ways to navigate and interact with reality.
index.aspx.
2. The basic distinction between types of navigation and interaction lies in
the degree of interaction that the user has in the categories of non-linear
navigation.
3. A system becomes interactive when it has an interface that allows for
communication with the user. In the case of the navigation modalities, this
interaction can be considered as being weak (when a command is used to
interact with predetermined content), or as strong (when the modes of
interaction contribute to the generation of the work itself).

�e in the linear documentary the viewer is not responsible forany response


m the stronger sense (beyond giving a cognitive interpretation of what is being
exposed and drawing conclusions based on their own subjective perception),
in the case of interactive documentaries this kind of negotiation is a necessary
part of the experience.
Modes of representation show the attitude of the director in relation to
the world. Examples of these modes are the expositive, poetic, reflective,
Figure 2: Second screen after the presentation of the interactive format on television
interactive, observational and performative forms (Nichols 2001: 102-38)
if the viewer chooses the Documentary category.
Modes of navigation allow for different ways to navigate and penetrate
the reality being portrayed, and set a non-linear multimodal deployment that
in protest against the United States position in Vietnam - and paint an image does not exist in Bill Nichols' modes of representation. Examples would be the
over the painting. 4 types of temporal and spatial arrangements made possible through interactive
The combination of the audio-visual documentary and interactive content documentaries that use symbolic layering and branched narrative as means
was the first of its kind in Spain and it received a number of prizes in the through which to represent reality.
United States. It won the gold medal in the Horizon Interactive magazine The types of interaction can go one step further to propose a scenario
and news category and silver in the Flash category. At the prestigious Promax in which receivers can become transmitters, leaving a mark or trace of their
awards5 in New York, it won the gold, silver and bronze medals across passage through the work. Examples would be the modalities of generative
different categories. interaction or interaction with Web 2.0 applications.

While t is true that a movie can mix different modes of representa­
.
tion, the VIewer always ends up seeing the same images within a certain
3. BASIC DISTINCTION BETWEEN REPRESENTATION, NAVIGATION
AND INTERACTION MODES order. The navigation and interaction modalities, when combined, can
bring different perspectives to the user. They can also mix and match the
In the interactive documentary genre, it is not as important to attempt to
paths and options to produce the potential for an immersive and interactive
portray reality as it is for the traditional documentary. What is more important
experience that is very different from the experience of viewing a traditional
is the way in which the author enables the viewers to interact with the real­
documentary.
ity being portrayed, by allowing them to intervene at the level filming, editing
and display. As such, this form offers new ways of thinking about reality, and
thus of forging it. Setting this key distinction involves being able to identify 4- METHODS OF NAVIGATION AND INTERACTION OF THE
the different logics of the documentation of reql:ity and new modes of subjec­ INTERACTIVE DOCUMENTARY
tivity made possible by digital media. This involves a leap from looking at the
After a deep analysis of a set of significant examples of interactive docu­
modes of representation of reality to conceiving of new ways to navigate and
mentaries (an initial volume of around 200 examples) as part of the
interact with it, that is, from analysing what you want to represent to consid­
author's own research - doctoral thesis - that argues and justifies the fact
ering how you want to represent it.
of considering the interactive documentary as an audio-visual genre, a
According to Gaudenzi (2009: 9), the various forms provided by Bill Nichols
division between different types of navigation and interaction has been
(1991, 1994, 2001) in recent years are not valid indicators to analyse how the
established. Among the types of navigation, the following have been
interactive documentary exploits the possibilities of representation of real­
identified: the Split, the Temporal, the Spatial, the Testimonial, the
ity. They are moving from an analysis focused on the different attitudes and
Branching, the Hypertext, the Preferred, the Audio-visual, the Sound
logics that took the linear documentary film-makers (documentary modes of

233
232
The case of Guernika, pintura de Guerra, ...
Arnau Gifreu Castells

and the Simulated, and the Immersive navigation mode. Regarding the
modalities of interaction, Web 2.0 Interaction and Generative Interaction
have been identified as offering key opportunities for the interactive docu­
mentary. The following table specifies the different navigation modes and
their sub-modalities:
The following table shows the dllferent digital interaction types and their
sub-modalities:

f.Mo:iiAil'.i:tis . --- - --- --'[sun-:M:onAiiTI:E:s-- -- - -

:--=� �=
'

--- - -----
�·::
::;;:::.:;�:::::o�:�_-::;:,:...
-:-:-:=-:::.-·-�-c:=.-:::.:.=--,;:;---:-;:
- . =-
--=-::.
- =::=:-.;--;;-:;:: ,=·:-:.

i GENERATIVE INTERACTION MODE :j ADD CONTENT TO THE SYSTEM

f .. ·.-:O:-='c::.:::_- - ----·�
-
.=--- -..·::---�------��----·-
--- ---=�--=�:::::=..-
.=-.-=:-::::::::__
--:::
.:;-·.:::.:::::..'·-"':;:;-_·�=·------------ ---·-- -- -

2.0 APLICATIONS INTERACTIVE MODE ! 2.0 APLICATIONS CONNECTION

Figure 4: List ofdigital interaction modalities and sub-modalities.

5. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NAVIGATION AND I NTERACTION


METHODS TO THE GUERNIKA PROJECT
5.2 The different parts of the interface and its browsing modes
Guenzika, pintura de guerra is an interactive documentary that has a series of
non-linear and digital interaction browsing modes. Apart from being inter­
esting from the multiplatform point of view for which it was produced, this
work is also very rich in terms of the various modes presented and their
combination. It is one of the few projects analysed that combines browsing
\vith interaction in the strictest sense. The non-linear browsing modes in
the interactive documentary are temporal, spatial and testimonial. Browsing

11I
PREFERENTIAL NAV:lGAJ:.ION !Y(ODE is completed with the generative interaction mode. They are listed and
described below.

s.1.1 History. Time browsing mode (years submode)

AUDIOVISUAL NAVIOATIQNMOPE AllDlOMbEO, YJDE()/t.l'f!MAT\ON,


AUDlOIYIDEOIANJMA'l:lON,
In this part of the interactive documentary, users can browse on a time­
line basis using two different criteria: first, the one explaining the history
I
.; AUD!O/PHO'[OGRAPF!Y of the painting (called 'Chronology') from when it was commissioned I
until its return after the dictatorship; second, users can access a map
with a timeline at the bottom (called 'The travels of Guernika') where
they can also use the years submode to follow the painting on its various I
SOIIND NAVIOAJ:IONMODE journeys.

s.1.2 The Symbol. Spatial browsing mode (geographical map, visual


map and photographic map submode)

. MODE The part called The Symbol uses spatial browsing to disseminate its content.
This mode uses three submodes, which are the geographic map, the visual
or graphic map and the photograph viewer. The geographical map takes us
Figure 3: List of digital navigation modalities and sub-modalities.

235
234
Arnau Gifreu Castelis
The case of Guernika, pintura de Guerra, ..

Figure 5: Basic interface of the webdoc project.


Figure 7: Painting against war. Illustration of the spatial browsing mode.
Photographic map submode.

to the various cities where the painting was hidden during its enforced exile
over several decades (although this submode is part of the History section);
meanwhile, the visual map submode presents various sections, including 5.L3 Th e figures. Testimonial browsing mode (historical figures and
'Discovering Guernika', a browsable image of the painting to discover the interviewees submode)
meaning of the various areas and 'The Health of Guemika', which shows
This part uses the two existing submodes to provide a twofold analysis: first,
damaged parts of the painting and the restoration work carried out; finally,
varied information on the historical figures related to the painting; second,
the photographic submode is illustrated using the sections 'Painting against
a series of interviews provides a more modern and critical perspective on
the War' and 'Picasso and Peace'. The former refers to graphic representa­
the events surrounding the production and history of this masterpiece of
lions that have been inspired by this great work, and the latter to icons and
painting.
emblems that have been based on the painting and which are directly related
to the desire for world peace.

11

Figure 8: Discovering Guernika. Illustration of the spatial browsing mode.


Figure 6: Chronology. Illustration of the time browsing mode. Years submode. Graphic map submode.

.! l j
'
I
237

11
Arnau Gifreu Castells
The case of Guernika, pintura de Guerra, ..

Figure 9: Pamting agamst war. fllustration of the spatial browsing mode. Figure 11: Interviews. Illustration of the testimonial browsing mode. Interviewees
Photographic map submode. submode.

5.L4 Shafrazi Experience. Generative interaction mode.


Besides using different submodes to illustrate some specific modes - with contributio�, both visual and textual, is added to an online gallery where
the consequent increase in browsing richness and the substantial increase other creatwns by other users can be viewed. In order to browse and inter­
in routes offered to the user to look at the story under discussion - users act using this option, it is first necessary to register on the 1V3 website, so
can also play a part that is more closely related to the opportunity to leave that the autonomous regional television channel has a large community
their mark on the system while generating content in a personal way, leav­ of followers, can send news (if the user wishes) and ultimately generate
ing their name or anonymously. This part aims to create an interpreta­ loyalty among a type of audience that is gradually combining the teleVision
tion of the picture with preset tools and specific actions. Moreover, once and interactive platforms.
they have finished adding their final touches to the original work, they can
name their creation and explain its importance and meaning to them. The

Figure 12: Shafrazi experience. Generative interaction mode. Access to the


Figure 10: Characters. Illustration of the testimonial browsing mode. Historical practical part (generating drawings) or visualising content that has already been
figures submode. created (online gallery).

238
239
The case of Guernika, pintura de Guerra, ...
Arnau Gifreu Caste lis

6. These conclusions
are drawn, in
part, through two
interviews conducted
by the author on 1 I
I
l
May 2011 The first
was held at the
production company

II
El terrat, where
Adria Serra works
at the Department
of Contents of this
company and is the
project manager of
digital content {New
Media). At the time
when Guernika was
produced,Adri.3 was
the coordinator of the
project. The second key
Figure 13: Shafrazi experience. Generative interaction mode. Example ofgraphic interview to discover
important details of
generative contribution. this production was
done to Ferran Clavell,
director of contents of
the Interactive Catalan
Radio and Television
Corporation {CCRTVI).
Figure 16: Complete scheme of the modalities in the web i-doc. 7. Available at: hitpJ/
www.tv3.caV3om in ut5/
guernicaJhome;home.
htm.
6. CONCLUSION
Ferran Oavell and Adria Serra note' that to cany out this project, CCR1VI worked
with the company Activa Multimedia. CCR1VI is dedicated to developing inter­
active products and Active Multimedia to developing different technologies. The
project took place during the second hall of 2006. According to Oavell and Serra,
the project Guemika required a huge investment and, apart from the website,
it was exhibited and conswned in one day. This leads to the conclusion that
Figure 14: Shafrazi experience. Generative interaction mode. Example of textual the business model of the project Guernika was not exactly profitable for those
generative contribution. involved. The estimated cost of the project was from 60 to 70 thousand euros for
the interactive part, including the production for television and the Web.
Currently, according to Oavell, via the Web - Windows Vista and 7 - the
user can activate the Windows Media Center, but the company has not done
enough marketingfor this product and it has not been standardized, although
the project remains also accessible from this platform today. This has certainly
limited the audience reach of this aspect of the project. However, there are
now similar experiences that have been developed and made more widely
available, such as Apple TV.
Powerful extras were created through the project where users could watch
the docwnentary and in some places gain access to other information pausing
the fihn and accessing the extra content. What changed between the website
and the Media Center was the user experience, with the Web version also
offering all of the additional content. 1his is the main support that is still active
and available online7•
The main goal was to experiment in television practices, with Catalan
television always having been a pioneer of this. As with many stations or
producers, who in a concrete moment decided to 'experiment' with a novel
format, the idea was not developed beyond the first experience. In terms of
acquiring experience and prestige, both goals were achieved, with awards
Figure 15: Shafrazi experience. Generative interaction mode. Online virtual gallery.

241
240
Arnau Gifreu Castells
SDF 6 {2) pp. 243-247 I n tel lect limited 2on

having been earned that certify the quality beyond the Catalan borders. As such, Studies in Documentary Film
this case study stands as an early demonstration from CCRTVI that it is possible Volume 6 Number 2
to achieve new forms of audience participation on TV with interactivity as an
© 2on lntellect ltd Interview. English language. doi: 10.1386/sdf.6.2.243_y
essential factor. It makes the project an important milestone in terms of explor­
ing new possibilities and creating new knowledge for future development.

REFERENCES
Gaudenzi, S. (2009), Digital Interactive Documentary: From Representing Reality
to eo-creating Reality, London: Centre for Cultural Studies (CCS) of
Goldsmiths, University of London.
Guernika, pintura deguerra (2007a), '1VC (Television of Catalonia)', audio-visual
documentary (IV3 a la carte), http://www.tv3.cat/videos/219786691
-- (2007b), 'CCR1V Interactiva (Corporaci6 Catalana de Radio i Televisi6
Interactiva)', Haiku Media, Barcelona, http://www.tv3.cat/30minuts/
guernica/home/home.htrn
INTERVIEW
Nichols, B. (1991), La
representaci6n de la realidad: Cuestiones y Conceptos sabre
el Documental, Barcelona: Paid6s.
-- (1994), Blurred Boundaries. Question of Meaning in Contemporary Culture, ANN DANVLKIW
Bloomington and Indianapolls: Indiana University Press.
-- (2001), Introduction to Documentary, Bloomington and Indianapolis:
Indiana University Press.

SUGGESTED CITATION A conversation o n


Castells, A. G. (2012), 'The case of Guernika, pintura de Guerra, the first

engagement� authorsh i p1
Catalan interactive documentary project', Studies in Documentary Film, 6: 2,
pp. 229-242, doi: 10.1386/sd£.6.2.229_1.

CONTRIBUTOR DETAILS
i nterstitial spaces and
Arnau Gifreu Castells is a lecturer, researcher and producer in the audiovisual
and multimedia field. He is an audiovisual communication graduate from the
Universitat AutOnoma de Barcelona (UAB), has a Master's Degree in Digital docu mentary: Matt Adams1
Arts and is a PhD Candidate at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF). He
has been visiting professor at TAMK (fampere University of Applied Sciences,
Finland), Universita degli Studi di Milano (Italy) and research professor at the twenty years of Blast Theory1
University of York (Toronto, Canada, pre-doctoral fellowship for research). He
has been working on a Thesis focused on Interactive Digital Communication
at the UPF since 2006. He has worked in the production of television such
as 25TV or TVC as well as in production companies Tasmania Films and
MediaPro. He is currently producing documentaries for television and the Q: Can you talk about the work Blast Theory does and how those experiences can
� NB: Edited in
Internet. As for the Interactives, he has created and designed the navigation extend to interactive documentary? Studs Turkle style:
rearranged order
system of different portals, with special attention given to UNlCA (Audiovisual Adams: I feel relatively fraudulent talking in a docum
entary context because for continuity,
Research Group), the Audiovisual Production Observatory and the digital we don't make doc�mentaries and don't come leaves out filler
from documentruy back­
magazine Fonnats , all of them linked to the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. grounds. A lot of the Issues and pertinent questio words.
ns documentary makers ask
themselves are alien to me in some ways.
Contact: San! Gabriel45 3r la 08350 Arenys de Mar, Barcelona, Spain
But Jew, Nick and I have been working togethe
r for a long time, Blast
Theory IS 20 years old this year. Our work has
Arnau Gifreu Castells has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and always had a really strong
element of interest in the real world and bounda
Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work in the format that ry between the art work and
the real world. And thinking about how that bounda
was submitted to Intellect Ltd. ry is a really porous one
and thinking about how that art work seeps out into
the real world and how
the world seeps into the art work.

242
243
Ann Danylkiw A conversation on engagement, authorship, interstitial ...

I'm reminded by a really lovely work of Martin Creed - a conceptual I'm not someone who is overly concerned by the collapse of privacy that is
artist - who says something like - I'm paraphrasing - 'the art work plus the currently taking place. I think privacy and surveillance - we're in a very fluid
world equals the world'. That's a really nice element of honesty around what _
moment m those things. The traditional lens through which they are usually
artists do. t� ed abo�t is an encroaching state and an encroaching corporate sphere and
Surveys and polls of one kind or another have always kind of cropped up pnvacy bemg eroded step-by-step and being bitterly resisted by the forth­
in our work. So there are all these kinds of forms of practices that in someway nght thinking people, I find that an unconvincing reading of what's going on.
intersect with documentary - the idea of measuring the world, monitoring the That's perhaps a tangential issue.
world, recording the world and feeding that back.
So that line between pretense and reality has always been really interest­ Q: Perhaps not? Your work certainly plays with the notion of identity, especially
ing to me and the sense in which in our real lives we are staging ourselves in asldng the public to bend their identity or to extend it or - I don't know - how
some way. In staged environments we are really ourselves in some way and would you describe what you ask them to do, to participate in things like A Machine
just to think about how those two things penetrate. to See With or Complicit? And the way you observe their identities in that?
It's changing dramatically as a culture in the last ten to twelve years. How Maybe there's something about surveillance in there? (http://www.youtube.com/
people can represent themselves culturally? How they communicate with watch?v�cD26y4ncDe4&feature�mju_in_order&list=UL)
other people? It's much more highly mediated than it was. There's a level of
Adarns: Absolutely. Absolutely. Ulrike and Eamon 'Compliant', it's different in
staging that's increasing increasing increasing.
different ways, in different projects (http:/lwww.youtube.com/watch?v�GLrsE
6D4qTw&feature�related)
Q: How so? Do you mean the clothes we wear, do you mean how we . . .

In Ulrike and Eamon 'Compliant', we play with identity in a very particu­


Adams: There is all of that but what's changed is online culture. lar way. Because you are invited to choose to become either Ulrike Meinhof or
Sheny Turkle is a real influence on my thinking on that in terms of how, Eamon Collins and you're then talked to as if you are that person and over a
you know particularly in the earlier days of the Internet you had room to 30-rninute w� that's fed onto you more and more and more and you go through
manipulate your identity - there's loads of gender switching, identity switch­ a number of things that extend that complicity with your identity (http://www.
ing, you have multiple names and identi�es on multiple different services. youtube com/watch?v�SJSPFDkDkVA&feature=related; http://en.wikipedia.org/
:
And they're now trying to drive that out of the interne! but it still exists in a wiki!Uirike_Meinhot http:/len.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eamon_Coilins).
more subtle way (http:/lwww.rnit.edu/-sturkle/). There's a vibration that comes off that process whether you adopt it or
Now a social network, how you use status updates and likes and photo resist it you are still navigating that supposition that you are now someone
tags. Those are key agents of social interactions. That's how a lot of people are else. It �oes that in an entirely interior way. There's not really roll playing or
building and entertaining relationships. pretending to be someone. You're never invited to do anything that would
And mobile phones are just another layer on that: text messaging, instant outwardly indicate that you're someone different. It's an entirely interior proc­
messaging, any number of strata that you can separate out - all these different ess, just an auditory process.
ways, their own affordances their own economies and business models, they all
construct the way we talk in different ways. The fact that a text message is only Q: Do you consideryour work to be eo-creation or do you maintain authorship?This
140 characters, semi-anonymous, phrase, it's live but time-delayed, that it costs notion (authorship) that we arefascinated by in interactive documentary.
you money for each message. All those things go, combined all have a dramatic
Adams: I've only got only contradictory things to say about this subject.
impact on how you use it, who you talk to and what you say to them.
I think that Jew and Nick and I have always sought to problematize the
On some level what I'm saying is very banal and on another level it's deep
idea of the artist as a kind of unique and special individual in society that does
seeded and has fundamental implications for how society is constructed and
things that other people don't do and brings things back for other people to
what the social and political sub-tools of a society are and are really trans­
engage with. Which is, relatively bogus thing ( . . . ].
formed in some ways, in ways we don't fully understand.
I would endorse Brian Eno' s definition o f interactive work as unfinished.
Meaning that only when the public come, does the work complete. And I
Q: Do you think it's important that we maintain that ability, especially as our
believe that very strongly. And I would say a work like Rider-Spoke is a way
identities are augmented online, that we maintain that ability to be anonymous, be
1 that shares authorship with the public so that the public are both perform­
another identity?
ers, authors and audience members at the same time (http:l/en.wikipedia.org/
Adams: I think having that freedom of choice is really important because I wiki/Brian_eno).
think - cities, one of the ways cities work is to give you anonymity. I grew up Having said all of that, I think there isn't any doubt whatsoever that
in a small, rural community and I couldn't wait to move to place where I didn't the work we make doesn't have a strong sense of authorship and a very
know my neighbours. It never bothered me the slightest bit, that I wouldn't _
particula r - and we talked already about ,.... a very particular tone of voice.
know who would live next door to me. . . . There are certain things that are very Blast Theory in style and you can see
I think online as well - that sense in which you can have some flexibility them across a twenty year history of work. And I think that contradiction is
and malleability around your identity can be a very powerful and interesting really great.
thing.

244 245
Ann Danylkiw
A conversation on engagement, authorship, interstitial ...

Q: Before, you said you think very little of what you do is documentary, and yet what he is doing that is unusual. Most characters
in the modem commer
cial genre called 'literary fiction' take for granted
_

there's a whole literature within the documentaryfield that dispels the notion that it a certain unexarnined
could be unbiased in anyway. Every little bit of documentary is edited and orches­ metaphysics and worry exclusively about the higher-
level complexities
trated to get a response from the audience and yet you 'don't do' documentary? of crrcumstance and relationships. Throughout Muraka
mi's oeuvre on
the other hand, his characters never cease to express
Adams: I would hope it's teasing and pulling at questions of reality and how about the nature of time, or change, or consciousness

their baffle ent

we understand the world and how our intersects with the world all of the or moral choice

time . ...
or the simple fact of finding themselves alive, in

this orld or another
'
In this sense, Murakami's heroes and heroines
We're always looking to pose those questions. In some way, that's just natural, then, that his work should enchant younge
are all philosophers. It i �
r readers to whom
classical artistic digital art theatrical practice.
One of the thread that I see running through our work is that as a member
the problems of being are still fresh, as well as others
out of such puzzlements - that his books should

who ever grew
seem an outstretched
of the public, as a participant, or an audience member or a spectator, as a hand of sympathy to anyone who feels that they
too have been tossed,
witness, or as a bystander, I think we've got something across all those differ­ Without therr permiSSIOn, into a labyrinth. (http://
www.guardian.co.uk/
ent things that the real event is present in some way and so a real event is books/2011/oct/18/haruki-murakami-lq84-review)
then casting light on the manipulation and fabrication that sits around it.
And I just thought that that sense of the stories
that have a comforting, are
Q: Why is it important to poke at those interstitial spaces between reality and our �� �
�n outstret e hand. One o the reasons it resonated with me particularly
perception? rs that havmg JUSt made Ulnke and Eamon: Complia
nt and A Machine to See
Adams: I think it's a more fluid place than it's ever been. We're in a kind of Wzth, they're both quite political works and there's a certain level
. of anger
runrung through both of them in certain ways
miasma between reality and unreality all of the time. and that's not uniformly
true over works we've made.
That's the kinds of lives we lead, where we witness things before we see
them. All of those kinds of bizarre things. I think it's important because we're We have made works like Rider Spoke and we made
an interactive work
for buses called Route 1236 that are about mediati
so much within that. ng conversations between
strangers that definitely have a different register
In 2000 when we started making work for mobile devices and mobile (http://www.youtube.com/
phones, the idea that they were cultural spaces was quite a particular notion, watch?v=gkAQX8cz9hc&feature=mfu_in_order&list=
UL).
quite arguable, quite a debatable idea because at that stage phones were still But at this particular moment, I'm thinking that I would
like to make work
seen as tools that delivered a set of functionality to you. that acknowledges a sensitivity, a possibility of warmth
because both of those
As soon as we realized that 3G was coming and therefore your phone works that I just talked about are quite uncompromisin
g.
would be on the Internet and therefore your phone would be a node on the It's partly, I think, 'to be an artist is an outrageous
arrogance', in the first
network, to me anyway, that was a real moment of 'I remember precisely place. And then to be able to exist and have a career
as an artist is an outra­
where I was when' that suddenly arrived. I was like 'Oh my God, that changes geous privilege And if you combine those two things
: together, I feel like you
everything!' about how you communicate and what your relationship is to the have an obligatiOn then to take the profession very
seriously and try and make
Internet and how the Internet is now with you wherever you go and you your­ sure you are adding to the diversity of the world -
that you are doing some­
self are networked, it's not like to go to a thing that is networked, it becomes thing that IS distinctive and unique. And part of that
is trying to find a tone of
part of you. Phones are very personal and intimate devices. vmce, a kind f register that is true, that can engage
� with people.
Using the city and technology and thinking about the city and the tech­ W, e ofte JOke about the fact that our work has no jokes
� in it whatsoever.
I don t feel like we are like .
nology - how each reconfigure each other and how each are cultural spaces. that as people. There is just something about the
It's really important. way we collaborate that has a certain tone of voice
that recurs. Maybe we are
trapped by that. Or maybe we need to get out a bit
more, I don't know.
Q: You tend to deal with 'big, fundamental questions about life'- why? 25 November 2011

Adams: I don't know. It's probably a personality flaw. (Laughs) London

I was talking about it just recently because I r�ad a review ofMurakami's


new book 1Q84 and I cut out (fusses with wallet) a quote because I thought
it was such a nice description and it says (reading), 'some critics are unsure
what to make of Murakarni . . .'.
(reads what follows from The Guardian)

Some critics are unsure what to make of him, the prejudice being that a
writer who is so popular, particularly among young people, cannot really
be that good, even if he is now quoted at short odds each year to win the
Nobel prize fOr literature. But Murakami's success speaks to a hunger for

247
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intellect books & journals Performing Arts I V i s u a l Arts I Film Studies I Cultura l & Media Studies

NOTES FOR CONTRI BUTORS 2012

1
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GEN ERAL • Quotations must be vvithin the body of the text unless
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