Open Doc Lab explore the New Frontier

As most of you are probably aware, Sundance Film Festival recently took place in Utah. One area of the festival which particularly caught our attention was New Frontier, an “experiment in Festival presentation, New Frontier is a social and creative space that showcases media installations, multimedia performances, transmedia experiences, panel discussions, and more.”

It sounded great and some of the projects which were showcased are really worth checking out – you can see the whole list here.

Alongside the festival, Open Doc Lab’s research assistants published a number of articles (in collaboration with Indiewire and Sundance) about the New Frontier space. Julie Fischer’s post ‘How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love ‘The World Brain’ which focuses on Ben Lewis’ Google and the World Brain, contains some brilliant observations about the world of interactive documentary:

“Web-native interactive documentaries are coming into their own. Two of the best-known projects were featured at Sundance through support from the festival’s New Frontier section: the moving and brilliantly participatory “18 Days in Egypt” in 2011, and the imaginative, engaging interactive nature saga “Bear 71″ in 2012. These works are dramatically engrossing in two very different ways. The burgeoning web documentary scene is quickly discovering a myriad more ways to work the web into creative, immersive storytelling experiences.

But there is a reason that the highest praise many of these works receive is to be called “cinematic.” While some interactive storytelling works soar to new and unexpected reaches of immersion and impact, others fall flat. There is craftsmanship in synthesizing information and emotional expression — be it a book, a film, or an interactive web-based experience. “A book is not an extra-long Tweet,” says “Google and the World Brain” interviewee Jaron Lanier, getting a laugh.”

Read the rest of Julie’s post, as well as the other contributions here – they are well worth your time!