Database Documentaries: New Documentary Practices in Emergent Narrative Spaces and the Classroom

The development of sophisticated portable media tools, social media applications and high-speed communication networks has arguably changed our understanding of the documentary form. Database documentaries offer filmmakers and audiences new ways to produce and/or experience a wide range of narrative forms. Whereas once the documentary form may have been perceived as a self-contained linear medium, database documentaries employing sophisticated convergent media technologies may be understood as dynamic non-linear narratives that invite high levels of interaction and audience participation. Media content, in the form of photos, videos and audio information, may now be viewed on a wide range of screens or pinned onto everyday locations using augmented reality applications, thus transforming places into information spaces and reconfiguring our experience of, and relationship with, the documentary form. Projects such as Blast Theory Rider Spoke mesh location-based services with portable computing to construct a dynamic documentary experience, while Max Schleser’s 24 Frames, 24 Hours and Perry Bard’s Man with a Movie Camera: The Global Remake exploit the potential of networked technologies. All create innovative modes of collaborative and participatory filmmaking which arguably remediate and reinvigorate the traditional documentary form. Here I examine the potential and perceived opportunities presented by networked portable media devices and associated software to aid the creation of documentary forms that extend our perceptions of storytelling practices, thereby promoting audience engagement with documentary content in both virtual and real-world environments. This research also looks at the ways in which the practice of making database documentaries may be used within the tertiary classroom environment to enhance the teaching of digital literacy.

Keep, D. (2014) “Database Documentaries: New Documentary Practices in Emergent Narrative Spaces and the Classroom”. In: ASPERA Conference Refereed Proceedings

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