COME/IN/DOC Documentary Series – Episode 1 – Part 2

In All posts, News & Events, Research Articles by Arnau Gifreu

In our previous post we explained the story behind the experimental project COME/IN/DOC, and last week, during the 4rth edition of the i-Docs Conference we launched the last part of the transmedia project: the Documentary Series. Very happy to say one week after the release that important people in the field said to me ‘thank you’ for this resource, which may help the field to grow a little bit more and clarify certain complicated issues.

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Here you can access the 2nd part of the 1st episode, which tries to answer the first question of this experimental adventure: 

Do you believe that the interactive documentary is a natural evolution of the linear documentary?

From this point on during the following year, a part of each episode will be launched every week (March 2016-March 2017)  exclusively on the website of Open Documentary Lab, and two weeks later on the website of COME/IN/DOC (documentary series section).

Moreover, in order to open the discussion and give voice to everyone, we have generated a new empty space that is now waiting for your opinions, a discussion forum open to all types of contributions: http://comeindoc.com/contribute

These are the first contributions to the forum, thanks a lot Lusina, Ruben, Max and Sandra and Anna for sharing your thoughts!

Luisina Pozzo Ardizzi

An interactive documentary is by definition a changing platform: open and flexible. A project that uses not only video, photography and audio -like traditional Documentaries-, but a complete set of new media tools that changes completely the way the stories are told: non – linear, user driven, collaborative: changing completely the form from the creation to the delivery or launching.

Favourite project:Out of sight, out of mind. (http://drones.pitchinteractive.com/)

Ruben Mir Ugolini

Interactive documentary is all about user decision. The author/s can construct an universe where the user can choose to explore it in many different ways. To design an appropriate and usable interface and a confortable workflow for the users, paying attention in al the steps that can be done, is to give them power. Not a passive watching anymore. We are not readers, listeners or viewers anymore. As users, we use it. It’s a new paradigm: as we can see, the unidirectional way of communication has changed in the new media. And the interactive documentary is born in the digital era, growing up with new networks of people and content, that can mix all the narrative ways that we have known until now. Author’s proposition, User’s choice.

Favourite project:Out my window (http://interactive.nfb.ca/#/outmywindow)

Max Schleser

Engagement with storytelling in ways appropriate to the narrative / non-narrative construct and the opportunity to recognise audiences.

Favourite project: 24Frames 24Hours (www.24frames24hours.org.nz)

Sandra Gaudenzi

an interactive documentary is a dynamic and relational entity: it has its form, its internal organisation, its way to behave and to react with what gets on contact with it – so effectively it has its own identity, like any living entity. I like to think about i-docs as a living form that exist through the interactivity with its environment (and we, humans, are part of the environment, but so are protocols, wires, servers, computer mouses and screens).

Favourite project: Rider Spoke by Blast Theory (http://www.blasttheory.co.uk/projects/rider-spoke/)

Anna Wiehl

I personally do not believe that there is such a ‘thing’ or ‘phenomenon’ as ‘AN’ interactive documentary as this would imply that the field is homogeneous, can be clearly mapped and defined; and moreover, I am also more and more wondering whether ‘interactive’ documentary – a term which was applied to the first projects that we are interested in – is really the appropriate adjective to describe the currently emerging so much wider spectrum of documentary practices. Especially as to my first resentment against thinking of a clearly shaped corpus of ‘interactive documentary’ projects, at i-Docs Symposium 2016 I was happy to meet so many scholars, practitioners, artists and commissioners, who were coming from all kinds of disciplines and directions. This made me realize how large the ‘scientific community’ (or rather ‘family’) is – but that we sometimes maybe do not recognize our siblings. What about – for example – the potential of VR in this field? What about intersections of (not only) digital journalism and ‘interactive’ documentary such as in projects such New York Times’ often cited paradigmatic Snowfall? Or if we think of ‘interactive documentary’ as living archives? One paradigmatic project here is in my eyes Filming Revolution by Alisa Lebow. What, if we consider emerging documentary practices which tackle issues from a post-human, post-anthropocene perspective? What about projects that are certainly documentary, that are indisputably based on digital technologies but that so far have rather been considered as practices of artistic research, such as BUZZ, a project exploring ‘participative practicing’? What about the use of ‘new media’ for socio-political change by means of ‘documenting’, sharing and discussing political uprisings, creative disobedience or just (hyper-)local campaigns – explored for example in Everyday Rebellion by the Riahi brothers? What about documentary games, ambient, non-fictional storytelling, life-logging, data-mining for documentary purposes, …. a list to be certainly completed, especially as the field keeps diversifying! As to the second terminological uncertainty, I think we still have to figure out what we mean by ‘interaction’. In my opinion, this interaction does not necessarily have to be restricted to the realms of digital interaction. I’d rather suggest that we also start to pay a bit more attention to the potential ‘real-life’ interaction, taking into account new forms of materiality, and that we start considering embodiment and sensual, especially tactile experience, too. Please do not misunderstand me! I do neither plea for opening up the sphere indefinitely, which would certainly not serve the issue – it would rather end up in randomness; nor do I discard Sandra Gaudenzi’s important note on i-docs.org that the common denominator that links the projects in our field is that they are moving within “the intersection digital interactive technology and documentary practice” and that in which “audience become active agents within documentary”. And in fact, the site also discusses projects that are also described as web-docs, transmedia documentaries, serious games, cross-platform docs, locative docs, docu-games, pervasive media, and so on. However, I do have objections to pin down the ‘nature’ of THE interactive documentary’. I reject boxing myself into one train of thought. Rather, I’d like to keep constantly ‘zooming in’ and ‘zooming out’ to find as many siblings of my ‘open emerging documentary family’ and to start fruitful exchange with far-related ‘cousins’, too. This said, I am very sorry – but I cannot name ONE favourite project as this – again! – would restrict thinking of emerging documentary practices to one kind of phenomenon.

Dr. Arnau Gifreu
i-Docs contributing editor