Posted by ARNAU GIFREU from Universitat Pompeu Fabra- Universitat De Vic, Spain (2010)
Proposal for I-Docs Symposum Blog (Setting the field / Summary)
For some time it is producing a process of converging between two communication fields, which are, apparently, very different: the documentary genre and digital media. Although the history of the documentary started half a century before that of digital media, both processes have progressed and, nowadays, they have reached a very interesting point of convergence. Towards the end of the 20th century and, above all, at the beginning of the 21st century, the two genres have taken different paths, overcoming their own trials, surviving in a changing environment and reaching a noteworthy degree of maturity. From this first contact, each genre adopted a series of properties and characteristics typical of the other. In some ways, a fusion begins from mutual attraction: the documentary genre contributes with its several modes of representing reality, and the digital media genre contributes with its new navigating and interacting modes. These modes can be found in interactive applications, which use different supports to display and navigate: the offline media, the web or Internet (desktop applications and mobile devices), interactive installations, etc.
This setting has favoured the development of different formats and the creation of new genres, such as the interactive documentary, which is a result of a double fusion of, on one hand, the audiovisual (documentary genre) and interaction (interactive digital media), and, on the other hand, between information (content) and entertainment (interactive interfaces).
Summing up some of the ideas put forward with the aim of focusing this approach to the concept, we are in a position to provisionally define the interactive documentary as interactive online/offline applications, carried out with the intention of representing reality with their own mechanisms, which we will call navigation and interaction modalities, depending on the grade of participation that is required.
The interactive documentaries try both to represent and to interact with reality, for which a series of techniques or methods must be considered and used (navigation and interaction modalities), which become, in this new form of communication, the key element to achieve the documentary objectives. The structure of the interactive documentary can be based on one or multiple perspectives and can end at any point determined by the author, but it can also admit multiple displays with different trajectories and endings.