Richard Edkins is a film maker and media artist. His work includes documentary, interactive documentary, video/sound installations, music videos and photography. He is currently teaching ‘Photo Media’ on The UAL National Diploma Foundation Studies in Art, Design and Communication at Weston College. Previously working on Coventry University MA Contemporary Arts Practice/ Media Arts programmes.

His productions include ‘Volontia’ (2010) a documentary short film following a group of local Ni-Van volunteers, who are working hard to raise awareness about safe sex in their pacific islands. ‘Black Swan Story’ (2009) a documentary film following Joel Pott, singer from indie rock group ‘Athlete’, retracing his grandfather’s footsteps in Arnhem. ‘Black Swan Story’ shown on Channel 4 is currently being used in schools as part of Royal British Legion Education packs.
His interactive documentary’s ‘What YOU Shoutin’ ’bout?’ and ‘An Eye For An Eye’ were recently exhibited at The Herbert, Coventry.

Session Title: ‘An Eye For An Eye/ What YOU Shoutin’ ’bout?’ – Ethical dilemas in Interactive Documentary for Social Activism.

Richard will present ‘An Eye For An Eye’ an Interactive Documentary by Mousumi De, Richard Edkins & Karen Bristoll, alongside his video installation ‘What You Shoutin’ ’bout?’, discussing the Ethical dilemmas of interactive documentary for social activism, drawing from Mousumi De’s MPhil Research paper ‘In between objectivity and subjectivity: Ethical dilemmas and interactive documentary for social activism’

‘An Eye For An Eye’ is an interactive documentary and media arts project by Mousumi De, Richard Edkins & Karen Bristoll. ‘An eye for an eye’ can just make the whole world blind, but what do you think?
The concept of non-violence, as practiced by Gandhi, worked well for India, and their Independence movement. But can non violent actions achieve results today?
An Eye for an Eye? questions if it is naive to think that non-violence can work in this century, against violent weapons of the military and silent weapons of the media.

“What U Shoutin’ ‘bout?” is a portrait of the anti war and global justice movements. The installation is made up of multiple TV screens, placed on varying head height plinths symbolising a stream of people. Each plinth represents a voice, an individual in the collective. These voices are presented on TV’s, challenging our relationship with the media, politics, activism and change. The audience interacts with the work by moving around the space, building connections between the collage of sound/ voice and their own experiences. The open nature of the installation encourages new conversations by the audience.

“An Eye For An Eye” and “What U Shoutin’ ‘bout?” were exhibited at The Herbert, Coventry, November 2009 during Peace Month.

“Traditionally, documentary making professes objectivity and neutrality in the representation of reality, where the author is restrained from imposing his or her subjective viewpoints onto the audience. Documentaries for social activism however require a subjective mode of intervention towards the social issues it seeks to address, which poses a conflict of ideology as well as ethical dilemmas and moral choices for the documentary maker. How can a documentary maker be objective, yet subjective? In interactive documentary, by passing these choices to the user, the author also passes the responsibility to represent the world and the human condition in it (Weinbren). This paper reports on an interactive documentary project that explored people’s perceptions about global violence and the possibilities of using people power and non-violence as alternative to military strategies in a post 9/11 situation. The paper firstly explains the eclectic stance of the authors in between objectivity and subjectivity in the making of this documentary. Secondly, it discusses the ethical dimensions and dilemmas encountered at the level of media content production as well as representation. Finally, the paper explains how the content production process is influenced and altered by the larger goal of social activism and the points when documentary making stops and activism begins.”
Abstract from Mousumi De‘In between objectivity and subjectivity: Ethical dilemmas and interactive documentary for social activism’

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