On politics and aesthetics: A case study of ‘Public Secrets’ and ‘Blood Sugar’

This article presents an in-depth, theorized discussion of two database-driven new media documentaries, ‘Public Secrets’ (https://publicsecret.net) and ‘Blood Sugar’ (https://bloodandsugar.net) as case studies of hybrid forms of art, scholarship and activism. ‘Public Secrets’ and ‘Blood Sugar’ represent the first half of a series of works that are the result of a sustained collaboration with human rights organization, Justice Now, HEPPAC (the HIV Education and Prevention Program of Alameda County), eighteen homeless injection drug users, and twenty women incarcerated at the largest female correctional facility in the United States. For both of these groups, injection drug users living outside the norms of society in the shadow of the criminal justice system and women trapped inside the prison system, their recorded statements are acts of juridical and political testimony. ‘Public Secrets’ and ‘Blood Sugar’ bring their voices into dialogue with other, legal, political and social theorists. The article explores how, in these specific cases, interface design constitutes a form of ‘argument’ (as writing does for a scholar), and user navigation functions as a form of ‘enquiry’ (a distillation and translation of the research encounter of the Documentary-maker). The author addresses the tensions and contradictions that emerge between the goals of theory and aesthetics and those of advocacy and activism.

Daniel, S. (2012) “On politics and aesthetics: A case study of ‘Public Secrets’ and ‘Blood Sugar’”. In: Studies in Documentary Film Vol 6 Issue 2, Pp. 215—227, DOI 10.1386/sdf.6.2.215_1


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