Thanks to all those who participated in the Expanded Documentary seminar over the last couple of days!

Thanks to Ross Gibson for his great keynote and input, as well as to all the session convenors, speakers and conversationalists.

Thanks to Bettina Frankham for her huge help in getting the whole thing happening and running.

Thanks to Anna and Aaron for recording the whole event.

Thanks to Olena Cullen for managing all kinds of vital stuff (coffee, tea, water, mints, cakes, lunch…).

Thanks finally to the Institute for Social Transformations Research strength and the Creative Arts + Social Transformation research centre for supporting the event.

Great to see all the material written for the site. I’ve opened up another area called “Furtherances” for anybody who feels inclined to follow up on issues that emerged during the sessions or to suggest new lines of enquiry. Contact me if you’d like an author log-in or just send me the material and I’ll post it to the site.

Brogan (

Recreating the Unknown

All performance art is marginal, but some is more marginal than others.

Much of the discussion and activity around performance recreation is focused
on relatively ‘famous’ artists. This is essentially inevitable because in
order to make a recreation there has to be some documentation of the
original action available in the public domain and the published, accessible
histories of performance art still tend to feature a narrow selection of
familiar names.

For me, the very obscurity of many performance artists and their work is
almost intrinsic to the very form of performance art and it is something
that any history of performance art, or attempts at recreating performance
work, should consider engaging with.

Confronted with fragmentary documentation of an obscure artist’s work and
lacking a more detailed historical context, then the act of recreation can
operate as a tool of exploration when other forms of research are not

I propose that recreation can act as a way of sharing an experience, showing
someone else something that you, personally find interesting, or even
exploring something that you found interesting without knowing exactly why.

Chris Hewitt

Speculative Documentary

How to describe the contemporary state of documentary? Is the term “documentary” itself any longer adequate to describe the complex set of ways in which dimensions of non-fiction (itself a problematic concept) are explored and elaborated? Perhaps in employing it, in imagining that documentary can become ‘expanded’, we are just demonstrating a residual and nostalgic affection for a field that no longer has the power to encompass what John Grierson defined in the early 1930s as “the creative treatment of actuality”.[1]

The problem, curiously enough, is less that that documentary has lost relevance altogether than it seems to have pursued multiple, incompatible fates. It is at once everywhere – in reality television, advertising, fiction film, pornography, surveillance and web-cam footage – and nowhere; the critical auteurist tradition of documentary has largely disappeared. In disappearing, however, the latter tradition has also endlessly proliferated in all manner of well-observed and disarmingly particular blogs [2], as well as small on-line videos that, while never attracting a wide audience, nonetheless seem, however unsatisfactorily, to realize the democratic aims of the older tradition. Yet it is not just a matter of at once appearing and disappearing. Documentary has also been transformed. This has involved not just being realized in other terms, via new forms of media, new modes of networked distribution, and so on, but also, more precisely, by taking shape as what is not documentary, what does not think of itself in terms of the language and traditions of documentary – that may even ostensibly oppose itself to the latter’s apparently predictable space.

I am currently teaching a ‘new’ subject entitled, “New Documentary”. I taught similarly titled subjects in the 1980s or early 1990s. Back then everything was very focused on the independent film tradition. The term ‘new’ tended to signal a shift away from the apparent complacency of early documentary traditions, with their fond faith in notions of documentary truth and the like, towards forms that were explicitly self-reflexive, essayistic, and possibly included fiction or performance elements. Aligned with post-structural and post-modern critical theory, new documentary involved a focus on the politics of representation and a questioning of notions of documentary authenticity. Bill Nichols’ well-known catalogue of the various documentary modes – poetic, expository, observational, participatory, reflexive and performative [3] – positioned contemporary documentary practice as a logical limit point (a terminal state of suspicion and self-awareness; like Hegel’s owl of Minerva – only taking flight at dusk [4]). But now none of this seems so certain – not the creative potential of this space, not its public, intellectual standing, not even its confident bracketing of the real.

Just last week I showed my class one of the classic films of that era, Chris Marker’s Sunless (1983). They were profoundly unimpressed, finding it boring, disjointed and self-absorbed. I did my best to defend it, to explain how, for instance, its excessive narration works to undermine the tradition of expository narration, and also to clarify the various explicit and subterranean conceptual threads that tie the various sequences together, but it was to no avail. Appallingly, even for me, the film felt dated. While it remains historically and conceptually significant, I sensed that it no longer quite functions; all its insights concerning time, memory, representation, absence and the ephemeral no longer have the capacity to “quicken the heart”.[5] Is this because these themes are unpopular and have become less popular – or is it because our relation to the world has somehow changed?

In contrast, the students all loved Dennis O’Rourke’s Cunnamulla (1999). The film is just as thoughtful as Sunless, but avoids the latter’s forbidding (and playful) intellectualism, focusing on a subtle and more traditional ethnography of observation and story-telling. In its nodal structure – tying together a portrait of a small town through a mosaic of characters, distinct spaces and crossed paths – Cunnamulla seems now, in hindsight, to anticipate the possibility of forms of interactive, spatial-exploratory documentary (evident, for instance, in contemporary works such as SBS’s The Block (2012) and the Canadian, Katerina Cizek’s, Out My Window (2010) and One Millionth Tower (2011)). Yet at the same time, the artfulness of its interaction with the townspeople and the quality of the film’s observational strategies and editing suggest the dilemmas entailed in structuring modes of interaction that have any of the focus and deftly crafted critical edge of the best linear-sequential work. In this manner, while ostensibly ignoring the future, while appearing as one of the last exemplars of an apparently outmoded documentary tradition, Cunnamulla somehow discovers the capacity to provide a critique of contemporary work and to suggest alternative futures.

The Maysles brother’s Salesman (1967) provides a similar form of inspiration. Whereas in the past discussion may have centred around the limitations and naivete of its fly-on-the-wall observational approach, the film now appears as a intimate, wry and very smart examination of lower-class life in the United States during the mid 1960s. The constructed character of this portrait is plain, but this scarcely emerges as a key issue. It is not even quite, as Roland Barthes, argues in Camera Lucida, that the indexical truth of the depiction becomes paramount.[6] It is rather that the possibility of a relation to the real world no longer takes shape as a radical, irruptive possibility. Nor does a concern with the real appear entirely antithetical to a commitment to mediation and representation. Instead reality and representation seem to have evolved a new more complex and nuanced relationship.

Overall, the experience of revisiting the history of documentary film, watching again, for instance, Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (1922), Walter Ruttmans’s Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927), Pare Lorentz’s The River (1938), as well as the films already discussed, suggests other ways of making sense of the tradition, not simply in terms of some narrative of gradual critical self-consciousness, but also as a richly diverse field of experimental enquiry into, for instance, aspects of the exotic and the everyday. For example, Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, is interesting not only for its symphonic architecture – its powerful choreographing of music, camera movement, editing and modern machinery – but also for its poetic concern for the everyday. I think of blurred views from a train of impoverished living conditions on the outskirts of Berlin and a memorable shot of a piece of paper blowing along an empty street. These moments chart legible associations to the artistic tradition of studies of everyday life, from the Surrealists through to George Perec and ethnographie proche (ethnography of the near)[7]. So, in reviewing the history of documentary film, other histories and other concerns appear. The tradition takes shape less as a progressive critique of the conditions of documentary representation, than as a field of illuminating, half-forgotten creative possibility.[8]

It would be impossible to point to a precise moment when documentary drifted away from the radical artistic tradition, when it became responsible, dull and thoroughly proscribed. The moment never happened and yet has constantly been elaborated. But a single moment will do. In the early days of Situationist critique, Guy Debord produced two documentaries, The Passage of a Few Persons through a Rather Brief Period of Time (1959) and Critique of Separation (1961). These films work precisely at the limit point that I described earlier. They employ representation in order to proclaim its absolute inadequacy, in order to insist that representation must be superseded by direct social action. The long sections of blank white and black footage, which Sunless references later, attest to the concrete materiality of film – the material lie of its shadow world, its empty, socially paralysing truths. And so, with this sense of having reached an end, Debord abandons film, shifting instead towards the realm – the utopia – of the literal situation, however susceptible the latter is to spectacular recuperation.

But, of course, the situation, reconceived as post-object art, as ephemeral event, as performance, etc. must still find a means of becoming publicly manifest. So, with little thought of the documentary tradition – regarded, when it is considered at all, as mainstream, irrelevant and utterly compromised – there is still the recognition of a need for documentation, for a record of that which determinately no longer exists. Yet it quickly becomes evident that while documentation certainly demonstrates an allegiance to the absent event, it also shapes another space – of display, installation and performance. Apart from just recording what happens, it plainly manifests things in other terms, reflecting upon them, assembling and disassembling them and reconstructing them in the interests of another, equally real, equally distinct event space. In this manner, while clearly not speaking the language of conventional documentary film, traditions of visual art documentation discover a correspondence with the fundamental aesthetic conditions of the documentary genre.

This may perhaps account for strands of contemporary art that explicitly aims to rethink the poetic possibilities of documentary. I am thinking, for instance, of the multi-screen installation work of artists such as Kutlug Ataman, Isaac Julien and Yang Fudong. The interesting thing about their work is the way in which it plainly foregrounds documentary as a play of choreographed light and sound – as a distinct space of embodied real and virtual interaction – while also projecting a new sense of spectacular visceral immediacy. It is as though these tendencies are no longer so clearly opposed. In this manner, a new dialogue between documentation and documentary, between the simplicity of recording and the necessity of aesthetic engagement and intervention, becomes evident.

In summary, our interest in the notion of documentary seems no longer governed by an overwhelming concern with representation as a space of loss. Both the real event and the field of mediation itself have taken shape as concrete, virtual and material fields. A concern with reality – not as a curiosity, not as an ineffable terrain of otherness, but instead as something pressing and intimately configured seems to be characteristic of contemporary practice; evident, for instance, most clearly in strands of socially-geared art. Also evident, of course, in the contemporary philosophical movement of “speculative realism”, which delights in reversing the Cartesian equation, insisting upon the priority of the real over any necessity for human subjects, codes of perception, etc.[9]

So we discover in contemporary expanded practice both an increased awareness of the aesthetic character of the document and a sense that reality has shifted from a distant, ultimately absent referent towards something demanding recognition, engagement and intervention. Within this shift, reality is no longer cast as some determined realm of fact, but as field of opening and manifestation. Resistance is now less about debunking the real and critically elaborating the various machinations of ideological illusion, than about inhabiting the real and enacting its practical reinvention. Within this context, documentary – an unpredictable, multiply configured space – takes shape as a means of conjoining action to speculation. It comes to represent not only a form of reflection, but also a mode of being in the world.

Brogan Bunt


  1. Grierson, J. (1933). “The Documentary Producer”. Cinema Quarterly, 2(1), 7-9.
  2. See, for instance, Lesley Buxton’s blog, Fall on me, Dear – Motherhood, writing and the girl who falls down:, accessed 20/8/2012
  3. Nichols, B. (2001). Introduction to Documentary. Bloomington & Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
  4. Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Preface (1820):, accessed 20/8/2012
  5. A phrase employed in Sunless drawn from 11th century Japanese writings of Sei Shōnagon; Sei Shōnagon (1971). The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon. trans. Ivan Morris, London: Penguin Books.
  6. Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida New York: Hill and Wang, 1981.
  7. See Sherringham, M. 2006 Everyday Life: Theories and Practices from Surrealism to the Present, Oxford University Press, Oxford
    here I am indebted to Sigfried Zielinski’s heterological conception of media art history in his 2006 Deep Time of the Media, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England; MIT Press
  8. See, for instance, Harman, Graham. 2010. Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures. Winchester, UK: Zero Books.

Re-Enacting Performance Art

Explores the re-staging of ephemeral/live artworks from the 1960s and 70s by contemporary artists. Re-creation as live documentation strategy.

Re-enactment and re-creation of performance art is increasingly being employed as a method of art-historical research, as well as an artform in itself. Well publicised recent examples include Marina Abramovic’s “Seven Easy Pieces” (2005) at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the series “A Short History of Performance” (2002-) at the Whitechapel Gallery, London.

Re-enactment can situate artists, as “action-researchers”, at the centre of a discipline traditionally dominated by (non-artist) scholars.

In contrast to the kind of knowledge that is generated through reading about artworks after the event, or viewing documentary photographs and videos, re-enactments seek to provide a different kind of knowledge by making it possible to encounter the artworks directly ourselves.

The process of re-enactment goes beyond polite homage, or slavish devotion to the “authentic” work of art. Instead, re-enactments are an interaction with history, transforming our experience (and therefore our understanding) of the original ephemeral artwork.

This session brings together artists and teachers who use re-enactment as an artistic and pedagogic strategy.

Andrea Saemann, a Swiss performance artist, has for some years been attempting to tap into feminist performance history. Her works often begin by seeking out and meeting with key figures such as Carolee Schneeman, and evolve into hybrid events which combine the re-enactment of the 1960s or 70s work, layered with additional material gleaned from her meetings.

Christopher Hewitt teaches performance art practice and theory in Berlin, and his educational process involves critical appraisal of documentation materials left behind from seminal (as well as lesser-known) works of the past. His students are encouraged to re-create these photographs or videos live, as a way of trying to understand the institutional framing of ephemeral performance. Christopher is also actively involved in documenting contemporary performance works, though his venture LiveArtWork, which publishes and distributes DVDs of recent performances.

Lucas Ihlein’s re-enactment work has primarily revolved around Expanded Cinema from British artists of the 1970s. Working with Louise Curham as “Teaching and Learning Cinema”, Ihlein’s approach involves a carefully annotated and documented re-invention of the original works, paying particular attention to the technological specificity of film, video and digital media.

Andrea Saemann (Switzerland) and Christopher Hewitt (Germany), in conversation with Lucas Ihlein.

The Accident

In a culture that likes to document and celebrate its successes, accidents are out of place. Yet no matter how big or how small, the accident has the potential to disrupt any event. Whether we believe the accident to be an essential part of an event or not, it is often in the accidental encounter, or the contingent, non-essential aspect of bodies and their relationships that we find materials for documentary engagement. The unintended slip, the malfunctioning machine, the plane or car crash, and the aftermath, all offer something about experience and our relationships with each other. What is accidental about documentary? How should the accident be documented? In what ways is the accident productive of new aesthetics and new ways of thinking? Weaving together three very different understandings of the accident, this session will examine productive, critical, and painful encounters with the glitch, gaps in transmission, and the blank page.

In a discussion of what it might be to be an “actant”, Jane Bennett raises the historical figure of the deodand (2004, p.355). Enshrined in English Law for nearly 600 years the deodand was an animal or inanimate thing that had caused the death of a human, and as a result must be legally forfeited to the Crown. Bennett highlights the active role of the deodand, for example, a carving knife or a tram or a pig were not necessarily an innocent party to the accident and thus could be tried by a court (pig) or confiscated (tram, carving knife). Furthermore, the law of the deodand distinguished between a thing in motion and a thing standing still. A cart in motion required the whole cart to be forfeited, whereas a fall from a stationary cart would require the forfeit of just the wheel. These guilty objects in motion were afforded agency. The practice of deodand was abolished in 1846; not coincidentally at the same time as the exponential rise of the railways. Too many accidents meant that the ongoing surrender of guilty things would remove most trains from the newly built tracks. Fault had to lie elsewhere. Increasingly complex laws of cause and effect replaced the deodand, but the machines and their accidents did not go away.

In philosophy the accident has a long and contentious history. Aristotle distinguished between substance and accident, arguing that the accidental is a recognition of a thing’s relationships with other things, beings or events. It is through the accident that the thing, being, or event presents itself to others. Aristotle’s accident is a relationship that reveals the substance of something, what it can do, but is not essential to that thing. The cat does not depend on its stripes. Its stripes are a specific accident that it presents to others. However, the stripes, like substances, are both universal and particular (Carriero 1995, p.256).

Fast forward a few thousand years, a few thousand accidents, and we find Gilles Deleuze writing about Frances Bacon’s paintings: “The form is no longer essence, but becomes accident; humankind is an accident. The accident opens up a space between the two planes, which is where the fall occurs” (Deleuze 2005, p.94). Deleuze ties a body back together with its accident. The body cannot be thought without accidents, and we know it not through what it is (striped) but through what it does (always falls on its feet). If humankind is an accident, documenting the fall could be a first step. But we might also want to think about where and how documentation occurs.

We all know that accidents are necessary. Experience is formed from them; as children this is how we begin to know nature, force, properties, gravity, and the limits and extents of our body. As parents we carefully document each faltering step. Nevertheless, the precise location of an accident remains a matter of ongoing debate. Mistakes come out of nowhere, accidents are more often than not a result of a special kind of event that occurs between bodies and bodies, or, bodies and machines, or, machines and machines – however we would like to define them. As the deodand demonstrated; to witness an accident is to play a part in the outcome.

In the contemporary world, complex machines bring their accidents with them. For example, Paul Virilio (2004; Lotringer 2005) argued that the ‘accident of art’ results from a proliferation of images that has lead to complex relations between seeing, knowing, and imagining a world: the generalized accident. In identifying a shift from the accidental as caused by relations between bodies (Aristotle’s specific accident), towards the intended affects of that body, Virilio’s generalised accident also (problematically) elides the difference between accident and attack. The lurking presence of catastrophe became the focus of Virilio’s ‘Museum of Accidents’ project at the Cartier Foundation in Paris in 2002 in which a disturbing romantic sheen was placed over the horror produced by accidental encounters between machines and architectures (Cubitt, 1999) and in particular the events of 9/11.

In the ‘Museum of Accidents’ images were placed together in order to encourage the appearance of some kind of essential connection; links between the nodes. The problem with this kind of exhibition of accidents is that the individual experience or event are not in themselves positioned or read as transformative or traumatic, but become fixed images. Once an accident is an image it can be traded and searched, and removed from context and affect it appears without properties. (Try a Google image search for ‘accidents’ – no longer tied to actuality, the Google accident does not require a subject for completeness). In harvesting machines or media into the service of accident, Virilio’s exhibition, like the Google search, demonstrates that in exhibiting, performing, or even reporting the accident there is a very real risk in aestheticizing trauma. If so, can the accident be documented? Is it at all possible to report on an accident without buying into the horror; or what we might understand as the perversely affective spectacle of another person’s pain. And conversely, do we have to take the accident so seriously that it removes our ability to speak? It seems that not all accidents are equal.

Of course prevention is the best cure. But risk management is just that, management. Control lies somewhere else. The accident can be humorous or catastrophic, personal or collective. America’s Funniest Home Videos – America’s longest running prime time television programme – is built on the predictability rather than unpredictability of the accident.

If each machine contains a concept of accident, encounters that recognize the creative potential of failure and instability are crucial to a twenty-first century understanding of ourselves, our relationships with others, and the catastrophes we live with and within. The accident as experimentation and exploration has contributed a particular aesthetics to practices in digital art and sound. Most of us curse the set top box as digital drop out prevents clear transmission and we spend our lives tweaking knobs to ensure glitches do not occur. Others relish the unexpected failure as creative possibility. The issue is not whether the accident occurs but where and how. How do we capture it? Reproduce it? Document it? The need to understand our own relationships with each other and the objects and things around us, still underlies the ongoing fascination and need for documentation of accidents in all their manifestations. Knowing something might go wrong keeps the news reporter at their desk and the experimental musician at their laptop.

Hillel Schwartz aligns noise with the accident of the machine. He says that working alongside a machine for long periods means we can intimately recognise its sounds, and that any shift implies a potential accident. Of necessity, the worker must remain attentive. A screech out of place could signal disaster. However, in this state of sustained and “tensed alertness”⁠ (Schwartz, p.349) we are more likely to slip up. At particular risk are the airline pilot and the long haul driver. As we listen to our machines, accidents occur.

Did you hear something?

Dr. Su Ballard, University of Wollongong


Bennett, Jane. 2004. “The Force of Things: Steps toward an Ecology of Matter.” Political Theory no. 32 (3, June): 347-372.
Bennett, Jane. 2010. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Bogost, Ian. 2012. The New Aesthetic Needs to Get Weirder. The Atlantic. Accessed 26 June 2012.
Carriero, John. 1995. “On the Relationship between Mode and Substance in Spinoza’s Metaphysics” Journal of the History of Philosophy, 33 no.2, April: 245-273
Cubitt, Sean. 1999. “Unnatural Reality: Review of Paul Virilio The Vision Machine.” Film-Philosophy no. 3 (9 February). Accessed 26 June 2012.
Deleuze, Gilles. 2005. Frances Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. New York: Continuum.
Lotringer, Sylvere, and Paul Virilio. 2005. The Accident of Art, Semiotext(e)/ Foreign Agents. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Schwartz, Hillel. 2011. Making Noise from Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond. New York: Zone Books.
Virilio, Paul. 2004. “The Museum of Accidents” in Steve Redhead. The Paul Virilio Reader. New York: Columbia University Press, p.255-262.

Charlie Victor Romeo

NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) Aircraft Incident Report
6. Appendix: Cockpit Voice Recorder Transcript
The following is a provocatively truncated transcript of the L-3 Communications FA2100-1020 solid-state
cockpit voice recorder, serial number XXXXXX, installed In various incarnations of the production Charlie Victor Romeo (CVR), whose text is created therefrom, which overran its original production season by twelve plus years.

CAM (Cockpit area microphone voice) Control and Momentum: The technical execution of CVR mirrors the circumstances of the incidents it represents. A chain of circumstances which, when line up in a precise sequence, can lead to a successful resolution or catastrophe.

HOT (Flight crew audio panel voice) Hearing Outsiders Talk: The recreation of tragedies in the air as depicted by actors in real time was a revelation for many aviation industry professionals. A reading of the cockpit voice recorder is standard in the investigation process. But pilots or investigators do not, as a matter of course, attempt to recreate the emotional tension and cognitive load inherent in these situations.
RDO (Radio transmissions) Reality Deserves Obsessiveness, rigour and a high ethical standard.

CTR (Radio transmission from controller) Central is The Research which evolves throughout the process of rehearsing and lasts as long as the project lives. We learned more about aviation from picking the brains of pilots in the audience whenever possible.

ATIS (Radio transmission from Automatic Terminal Information Service) Attention to Industry Standards which eventually lead CVR to consult with Dr Robert Helmreich, chair of the Human Factors Research Project, Dept. of Psychology at the University of Texas, Austin and author of the definitive book on human factors in aviation, Cockpit Resource Management.

OPS (Radio transmission from the Airlines operations) Other Professionals Started to notice the aviation industry’s standards for training in emergency situations. Many of these were in medicine. Medical professionals, studying team building and technology interface protocols, invited CVR to appear at conventions sponsored by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the National Patient Safety Board, where these topics were raised.

TWR (Radio transmission from the airport tower controller) after show Talkbacks Were Regular features of the evening’s presentation. CVR delivers very technical terminology as it occurs in the transcripts, largely unedited. Also, due to the emotionally heightened content, a respite to decompress was found useful for both cast and audience. And many other questions about the circumstances around the incidents were raised, which were not addressed in the transcripts.

EGPWS (Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System) Every Good Plan Will Suffer in its execution. The solidity of such plans’ foundations can mitigate potential dislocations.

-1 Voice identified as the captain
-2 Voice identified as the first officer
3 Voice identified as the flight attendant
-? Voice unidentified
* Unintelligible word
# Expletive
@ Non-pertinent word
( ) Questionable insertion
[ ] Editorial insertion
Note 1: Times are expressed in mountain standard time (MST).
Note 2: Generally, only radio transmissions to and from the accident aircraft were transcribed.
Note 3: Words shown with excess vowels, letters, or drawn out syllables are a phonetic representation of the words as spoken.
Note 4: A non-pertinent word, where noted, refers to a word not directly related to the operation, control or condition of the aircraft.

CAM-1 you think so? ok lets head for L A.
CAM [sound of faint thump]
CAM-2 you feel that?
CAM-1 yea.
CAM-1 ok gimme sl— see, this is a bitch.
CAM-2 is it?
CAM-1 yea.
CAM [sound of two clicks similar to slat/flap handle movement]
CAM-? *
CAM [sound of extremely loud noise] [increase in background
noise begins and continues to end of recording] [sound
similar to loose articles moving around in cockpit]
CAM-? *
PA [sound similar to CVR startup tone]
CAM-2 mayday.

CAM-1 push and roll, push and roll.
CAM-1 ok, we are inverted… and now we gotta get it….
CAM [sound of chime]
CAM-1 kick *
CAM-1 push push push… push the blue side up.
CAM-1 push.
CAM-2 I’m pushing.
CAM-1 ok now lets kick rudder… left rudder left rudder.
CAM-2 I can’t reach it.
CAM-1 ok right rudder… right rudder.
CAM-1 are we flyin?… we’re flyin… we’re flyin… tell ’em what we’re
CAM-2 oh yea let me get *

CAM-1 *
CAM-1 gotta get it over again… at least upside down we’re flyin.

PA [sound similar to CVR startup tone]
CAM-? *
CAM-? *
CAM [sounds similar to compressor stalls begin and continue to
end of recording]
CAM [sound similar to engine spool down]
CAM-1 speedbrakes.
CAM-2 got it. Appendix B 235 Aircraft Accident Report
CAM-1 ah here we go.
[end of recording]

End of transcript

Irving Gregory

Out My Window

An impressive 2010 on-line documentary: Out My Window, Katerina Cizek, Canadian National Film Board. Examines responses to highrise living, focusing on a range of international case-studies. More info at the project blog.

Nice re-examination of QTVR – both playfully resisting the seamless 360 view (enabling a kind of navigable collage) and also pushing seamlessness to new levels (the Yellow Bird technology enables video qtvr).

An offshoot project is One Millionth Tower (2011), which deliberately avoids the use of proprietary software – it’s all HTML5, open-source Javascript libraries, etc.. A link to the GitHub code.

Seminar Update

We have made some progress in planning for the Expanded Documentary seminar:

  • The event is scheduled to run in the latter half of the Faculty of Creative Arts Postgraduate Week – the afternoon of Thursday 6th of September and all day on Friday the 7th of September.
  • The Thursday session will begin with a keynote address by Ross Gibson, Professor of Contemporary Arts at the University of Sydney (Sydney College of the Arts). From his innovative 1986 film, “Camera Natura”, an essay-style documentary on white representations of the Australian landscape, to his more recent immersive, interactive installations (created in collaboration with Kate Richards), Professor Gibson has been at the forefront of Australian experiments to develop new forms of documentary that recast the relationship between document, documentary, narrative and critical scholarship. His role will be to frame our overall discussion, positioning the concept of documentary and considering its evolution beyond standard linear-sequential forms and its integral relationship to a diverse range of contemporary practices. For more info on Professor Gibson, please see his website (
  • After the keynote address, the plan is to run a set of invited panel sessions that address central questions of contemporary expanded documentary practice. I have made a tentative effort to define these questions in the post just below (“Key Questions”, March 6 2012). I should note that for me the key question is the third one that addresses the positioning of the document in contemporary practice. Interested if people think we should go with this as the core issue/question… It is hoped that these or similar questions can provide the basis for a set of case-study based responses from a range of different disciplines – specifically, Theatre and Performance, Visual Art, Media Art, Cultural Geography, Cultural Studies and Journalism. Panel participants will be expected to post short papers of a maximum of 1000 words to this site prior to the actual event. This will mean that everybody has an opportunity to read papers prior to panel sessions, enabling a focus on discussion rather than the formal reading of papers. There will be a single stream of panel sessions. The first one will be on Thursday afternoon after the keynote. The remaining two will run on the Friday morning.
  • The Friday afternoon session has yet to be defined precisely. One suggestion is to run a poster session, in which seminar participants have the opportunity to present and obtain feedback on their ideas, questions, case-studies and the like. Another option is to attempt a small exhibition of expanded documentary work, involving both on-line and gallery components. Either way, the overall aim is to foster inter-disciplinary discussion and collaboration and to enable all participants a chance to showcase an aspect of their work.
  • Oh yes, plan to have a seminar dinner on the Thursday night.

The next thing is to nail down the panel sessions, keeping in mind that everything needs to fit together into a coherent set of three 2 hour panel sessions. Stuff that does not fit into a dedicated panel session may be better positioned in the poster session/exhibition.

Key Questions

  1. What happens when documentary shifts beyond linear-sequential form – when it becomes a collection, a constellation, a model, a navigable space?
  2. How do current modes of spatial, networked, embodied and affective interaction relate to the traditional forms of documentary interaction – exposition, storytelling, etc.?
  3. How is the notion of document conceived within contemporary documentary practice? How does the document mediate a relation between the space of events and the space of documentary form/aesthetics?