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8

projects curated
by

Mandy Rose

2013/11/22

Mandy Rose is Associate Professor and Director of the Digital Cultures Research Centre, University of the West of England.

Her own research looks at the intersection between documentary and networked culture. She is co-convenor of the i-Docs Symposium. Mandy has led ground-breaking participatory media projects for the BBC including the Mass Observation inspired camcorder project, Video Nation (94-2000) and the pioneering U.K. digital storytelling project, Capture Wales (2001-2007). She has devised and produced interactive projects including My Science Fiction Life (2007) and the Are you happy? project (2013). Her recent writing appears in The Documentary Film Book (Palgrave) and Studies in Documentary Film (Vol. 6 Issue 2). She is the author of the CollabDocs blog.

Documentary as Co-Creation

In the context of networked culture the ground beneath documentary has shifted. Cheap, accessible, and mobile production tools make the audience (potential) media makers. Digital platforms and ubiquitous connectivity foster interaction and dialogue. For the documentary project of telling stories about our shared world (Nichols) and asking how we want that world to be, this is fertile territory.

Many works in the _docubase engage with both aspects of this landscape. Building (at times explicitly) on 20th century precedents in participatory art, community and access video, documentarists seek approaches to making purposeful digital work with people rather than about them. They adopt a range of modes—acting as facilitators, curators, collaborators. They experiment with architectures of participation—sometimes across multiple platforms—seeking ethical and aesthetic strategies; ways to be true to participants and engage an audience; to create the conditions within which a necessary story can be told in a context of meaningful dialogue.

Some of the most interesting projects emerging today suggest how documentary might develop as a stage on which participants can act as publics, calling attention to shared concerns, and redefining public discourse.

_We Feel Fine

"We Feel Fine" visualizes emotional "data," creating a record of people's emotions as expressed on blogs and social media.

Jonathan Harris pioneered thinking about social media as storytelling. His 2005 ‘almanac of human emotion’, created with Sep Kamvar, made a stir when it was launched and still impresses today. Bringing computer science and data visualization together to map human feeling through its self-expression in social media, it suggested un-dreamed-of web-native storytelling possibilities.

_Sandy Storyline

"Sandy Storyline" is a participatory documentary that collects and shares stories about the impact of Hurricane Sandy on our neighborhoods, our communities and our lives.

Having dazzled us with his algorithmic creations – Phylotaxis, We Feel Fine, I Want You to Want Me and more, Jonathan Harris recoiled from what he called “data porn” and went on to create Cowbird - dedicated to witnessing life through authored documentary accounts. Cowbird enables the grouping of stories around themes and Sandy Storyline is one of those collections. It provided a platform for sharing stories of Hurricane Sandy – bearing witness to the disaster and the rebuilding.

_Man with a Movie Camera: Global Remake

Participatory project "Man with a Movie Camera: Global Remake" celebrates the work of avante garde Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov.

Back in 2007 the artist perry bard invited Vertov enthusiasts to collectively remake his luminous classic, and invented a template for crowd-sourcing creative content. Participants can choose a snippet from the original to re-stage or re-interpret. bard doesn’t make any content or any selections. Instead the contributions are auto-assembled and reproduce a version of the film which, with the input of the multiple creators, manages to do justice to the kaleidoscopic power of the original. This generative project is still evolving as people continue to contribute. Using the same approach with fans contributing fragments to a linear whole, the collective memorial of The Johnny Cash Project also works brilliantly.

_Filmmaker in Residence

For the National Film Board of Canada’s pioneering Filmmaker in Residence initiative, documentarian Katerina Cizek collaborated with doctors and patients to capture the stories of a Toronto hospital.

If you want to understand where the NFB / Kat Cizek’s multi-year, multi-platform, multi-award winning Highrise project came from, look at Filmmaker in Residence. In 2004, with a brief to reinvent Challenge for Change for the digital era, Cizek embedded herself with the health care community at St Michaels, an inner-city hospital in Toronto, and across five years invented an engaged media for the digital age. Read Cizek’s “Manifesto for Interventionist Media”. It’s a blueprint for a collaborative documentary practice.

_18 Days in Egypt

"18 Days in Egypt" is a participatory crowdsourced documentary about the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.

18days explores how to tell a collective story using social media as archive. Documenting the Eqyptian revolution in early 2011 and beyond, those who had tweeted and posted at the time were recruited to tell the story of a particular moment or incident by drawing together their own content from social media accounts using public APIs, and adding retrospective context or commentary. Group storytelling was intrinsic to the proposition, with others who were there at the time alerted via their social media accounts and invited to contribute too. What the 18days team learned was that this collaborative documentation also proved to be a means of peer authentication.

_The Worry Box Project

"The Worry Box Project" collected hundreds of confessions from mothers revealing their fears about raising children.

Irene Lustzig’s lovely project is a work of alchemy – turning the maternal anxieties confessed by those taking part into something beautiful and also somehow funny. Lustzig has transposed “public spaces of collective yearning and embodied wishing rituals like the Wailing Wall and the Fontana de Trevi” for the web, and created an experience which lifts the lid on the quotidian agonies that are our worries about our children – this trouble shared and lovingly transcribed by Lustvig also providing a curious kind of comfort. This box is a treasure trove.

_Hollow

In the interactive documentary "Hollow," filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon collaborates with the residents of McDowell County, West Virginia to tell the story of population decline in the rural United States.

Elaine McMillion’s ambitious HTML5 documentary focuses on McDowell County, West Virginia, but tells a common story of post-industrial America. Her treatment is both immersive and participatory – offering a moving self-portrait of this rural American community and on ongoing platform for local communication. McMillion isn’t assembling an argument but staging a dialogue, and it’s the local conversation that she’s keeping her eye on.

_Question Bridge: Black Males

"Question Bridge: Black Males" facilitates conversations within the African American male community across political, class, geographic, and generational divisions.

Traditionally documentaries pose questions of interviewees. In Question Bridge the subjects ask the questions. Working with WEB DuBois’ concept of double-consciousness among black American men, Question Bridge is a highly focused intervention in the realm of portrayal, image, self-image. The participants don’t make the content, but in a profound way they make the work, and drive the urgent and important “video-mediated megalogue” that the project is staging in galleries, prisons, schools across the US.

11

projects curated by

Cédric Mal

35

projects curated by

MIT Open Documentary Lab

8

projects curated by

Chris Dymond

22 Pl Playlists

22 playlists, a changing roster of prominent documentary makers, festival organizers, technologists and critics sharing their top picks.

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