Documentary and the cinematic thought machine

Documentary practice is a way to think the world. It can be a formulating, a historicising, a narrativising of experience that is otherwise chaotic and confusing. However there are alternative ways of knowing that come through lateral approaches, patience, perhaps even intuition. There can be a sense of accumulating understanding that speaks of an experiential kind of knowing that cannot be articulated or contained in a few rhetorical dot points. It is an approach where the sense of spending time and being open to ‘nothing’ happening and seeing where that might lead is valued as part of the process of coming to know.

My interest lies in how an artistic practice can shift the work of documentary from a didacticism that says, “I know all about this, come and listen to my wise words” towards an ongoing conversation. While the notion of an “art work” can have the effect of elevating the artist and the work above the ordinary, the openness of expression permits room for the audience to bring their own understandings to bear on the issues under consideration with the attendant possibility for greater and more deeply experienced impact. In the admission of uncertainty and the acknowledgement of complexity, the agency of the audience and their ability to know something in multiple ways is mobilised.

Bettina Frankham

Let’s Take This Outside – Locative Documentary Forms

Locative Media is in essence the use of media to augment place. Experience of location is however always augmented by memory, imagination and response to environment while walking and motion through space creates a type of fundamental narrative. This presentation uses discussion of three locative projects, a monologue fiction for freeway drivers, a locative essay about national aesthetics and a locative history documentary for pedestrians to discuss the possibilities and restriction of locative documentary.

All three of these projects attempt to intensify, subvert and deepen the resonance of the places they are designed to be experienced in.

Chris Caines

Documentary Polyptychs: Multi-Screen Video Art on a Theme of Climate Change

“I believe that the next generation of cinema — broadband cinema — will add multiple windows to its language. When this happens, the tradition of spatial narrative which twentieth century cinema suppressed will re-emerge once again.” — Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media.

How do the documentary form’s strategies for creating meaning change when it moves to multiple screens (or windows) as film & video installation art? When montage, instead of being temporal, becomes spatial?

The documentary subject matter with which Adam explores these ideas is anthropogenic climate change. Specifically, the disconnect between the way we live our lives and the effects of our actions upon the environment.

Without delivering a climate change polemic, it is perhaps timely to explore how this crucial dissociation, of cause and effect, of today’s action and tomorrow’s result, of behaviour here and outcome there, might be addressed through a formalistic development: documentary polyptychs.

Adam Sébire