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?

Artangel – A Tender Subject


An interesting example of “Expanded Doco” in today’s Guardian: a performance installation work which explores the world of gay prisoners:

“Anderson believes that A Tender Subject is a “pivotal work” for Artangel which has wide-ranging implications for the arts in Britain.

“Its roots are in educational practice, it articulates itself through social value and through the value of those participating in the process but it stands in a mainstream arts framework.”

Though Storor’s previous work includes For the Best, made with terminally ill children at the dialysis unit at the Evelina hospital school in Southwark, south London, he says that A Tender Subject was his most challenging project yet – not only in persuading the prison officers that it was worthwhile, but also in the work’s nature, trying to find moments of intimacy in a world where violence and fear are far more common.”