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interDocsBarcelona 2015 – The conference

In All posts, Guest posts, News & Events by Arnau Gifreu

The third edition of Inter Docs Barcelona was full of great surprises this year, counting with speakers from different nationalities, important figures of the industry and even interactive presentations. During the morning we could listen to international speakers while in the second part of the conference, held in the afternoon, a few Spanish professionals and artists showed their extensive experience with interactive projects.

Aston 1Introduction to the conference and presentation of the first keynote speaker, Judith Aston

Our first keynote speaker of the day was Judith Aston –co-founder and co-director of i-docs–, who started our journey through interactive works by showing examples of “performative” acts and interactive documentary according to their approaches and modes of interaction, dividing her examples into different categories such as “performances as pre recorded presentations”, “performances where the audience can participate” , “performances as creation” and “performances as curated content”, enabling a new dimension of understanding towards these projects.

Aston 3

After this clarifying introduction about the subject of interactive artworks, the second keynote speaker enlightened the audience with an impressive example of how interactive pieces can promote social mobilization and change. We are talking about Ram Devineni, the creator of Priya’s Shakti, an incredible tale about a young hindu woman who suffers from male abuse and rape but is able to find her strength thanks to the help of the goddess Parvati.

Ram i publicRam Devineni presenting his work at the conference

In between this fictional story, the user will find real testimonials of actual rape survivors from India in which identities are never revealed. This transmedia project with more than 500.000 downloads all over the globe is an augmented reality comic book that took the streets of Mumbai with large augmented reality paintings and really appealing visuals that make reference to comic books and Bollywood films of the 70’s. The author explains that his intention was to “create a super hero that is a rape survivor”, a groundbreaking idea that deals with the delicate subject of sexual abuse.

Sarah 4Sarah Trévillard

The next keynote speaker was Sarah Trévillard representing Honkytonk Films. During her intervention, she showed to the audience a few fragments of the work Le Grand Incendie (Burn Out) about french workers that attempted or committed suicide by immolating themselves in public often very close to or inside their company’s headquarters. The interactive documentary shows testimonials of co-workers and family members about the deceased ones and points out a perceived negligence by part of the companies and government. Sarah Trévillard also talks about the production aspects and how did the idea of the documentary came about. According to the producer, it took two years to produce and distribute this transmedia project that counted with a budget of 280.000 euros and was developed into a book, exhibitions and an interactive documentary.

The next presentation by the awarded Adam Gee, from United Kingdom’s Channel 4, brings us the experience and knowledge of this professional that promoted the realization of projects such as Don’t Stop the Music, an interactive social mobilization for the revival of the musical education in british schools. The impressive project attracted the attention of celebrities, different types of media and even the british parlament. In his talk, Adam Gee shows other examples of successful projects and finishes with an important reflection: “There’s nothing more crucial than constantly having that ability to see through the eyes of the audience”.

aDAM gEE 2Adam Gee

Keeping this philosophy in mind, we could happily affirm that the following presentation was an example of really knowing your audience. With a warm welcome Robin Cramp and Alex Nelson introduced themselves along with the BBC Connected Studio, BBC Taster and their knowledge and mission towards technological innovation within the audiovisual industry. After talking about projects like BBC Innovation Labs and BBC Backstage the duo of speakers brought an interactive dimension to the presentation itself by promoting a simulated pitch, which was ultimately evaluated by the public through a so-called clap-o-meter. The intervention was not only fun but also educative, showing how relevant it is to try different ideas and most importantly showing how interactivity and collaboration can enrich nearly any experience and take place in the most varied scenarios.

BBC9BBC’s presentation and performance with the audience

The next presentation was done by the media-artist Florian Thalhofer, who created the widely known interactive creation platform, Korsakow. Thalhofer divided his presentation into five chapters, and explains the genesis and structure of the platform. In one of his many reflections about documentary making, the artist explained why linear or multilinear film causes linear thinking, while Korsakow causes multicausal/multilinear thinking, stressing the importance of this type of platform to the field.

Florian Thalhofer
Florian Thalhofer during the last keynote in the morning

And then, we need a break after the six first presentations and had one hour for lunch time!

Coffe breakLunch and networking time!

During the afternoon, in the second part of the conference, we could review and get to know important Spanish interactive artists and performers. The first artist to present his work was the renowned Pep Gatell, from La Fura dels Baus, who showed how he once understood the concept of interactivity in his performances back in the 80’s. The evolution of his work is reflected on his presentations as a whole, due to major changes in the structure of his performances such as the soundscape, interactivity with the public through a different positioning of the audience and so on.

PepPep Gatell, the first speaker after lunch

Ferran Clavell from CCMA/Televisió de Catalunya (Catalan Autonomous Television), also shows his extensive experience on interactive documentaries, quoting the important work Guernica: pintura de Guerra, which was repeatedly cited in important academic works along with El Diaris de Pascal.

Ferran Clavell_2Ferran Clavell explaining some works done by CCMA-TV3 in the last years

Following Clavel’s iconic presentation, we had the great opportunity to listen to Elisabeth Pons’ experience with interactive works (MediaPro Exhibitions), having a quick peek at the incredible museum of the football team Real Madrid, which she idealized and coordinated, followed by the interactive experience placed in the museum of Milan – another important European football team.

Eli Pons 2Elisabet Pons and her approach on museum exhibitions

Right after those presentations we had the pleasure to listen to Arturo J. Paniagua from RTVE, who enlightened us about the social and cultural power of videogames. Paniagua pointed out a shift in a concept that was once believed to be true until the rise of interactive technologies: the understanding that videogames were only made for entertainment. Arturo demonstrates how this affirmative is not completely true by showing the project MonteLab, an interesting interactive documentary about a bankrupt model of real estate that has an actual social interaction and impact.

Arturo Paniagua 7Arturo J. Paniagua speech

Neus Ballús and Joaquim Colàs, from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona), enriched this afternoon of Spanish artists with the ongoing project Amb Títol, an interactive documentary about former college students and their experiences before, during and after university.

Amb titolNeus Ballús i Joaquim Colàs from UPF

Last but not least, we had the important presentation of Santi Fort from Eurotransmedia. Fort is an experienced professional from the field, who discussed several aspects of media development in Spain such as funding, interchange between countries and business models, which was indeed a promising way to finish this incredible day full of new perspectives in the field of interactive documentary.

Santi Fort

Santi Fort closing the conference

During the conference we announced some surprises, as for example the premiere of one of the first finished prototypes that came out from our first Popathon last year, Stereotypecelona, an interactive survey in which, in the form of a game, the user should guess in which neighborhood lives each speaker.

The second surprise was the announcement of the creation and launch (June 16 with Alex Badia from Barret Films) of a new interactive documentary community that will gather one time each month in Altair bookstore (Gran Via 616, Barcelona) to create debate and discussion around interactive and transmedia documentary.

All those interested in the interactive and transmedia in Spain can join each month at Altair bookstore or follow us via streaming.

Joanna Camargo Coelho (text) and Arnau Gifreu (edition and additional comments)