i-Docs 2016 is taking place from 2-4th March at the Watershed Media Centre here in Bristol. This is our fourth symposium and is bigger than ever! Not only that but it has sold out two weeks ahead of time.
It’s been really great that, as Co-Director, I haven’t had to do so much of the day to day organising this time round. We now have Mandy Rose fully on board, more support staff, a post-doc researcher and visiting PhD scholars, plus an ever-growing international network. Casting my mind back to the Documentary Now! symposium in January 2010, where Sandra Gaudenzi and myself first muted the possibility of convening an event around interactive documentary, it is incredible to think how far things have come.
For me, the term interactive documentary or ‘i-Docs’ always was a means through which to establish a community of interest around which a conversation could take place. As more and more people start using it, my hope is that it won’t make things become too fixed. It is the fluidity of evolving practices and the blurring of boundaries across genres that keeps things fresh and keeps documentary-making relevant, as a means through which to comment and reflect upon our times.
I will write more about my thoughts on the relationship between ‘interactivity’ and ‘immersion’ in a subsequent post – as this keeps coming up, both in my curatorial work and in my own practice.
I was recently asked to give my take on interactive documentary for the forthcoming SAGE Media & Communication Video Collection, due to be published in March 2015. This request follows on from my having been lead contributor on interactive documentary for the SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Media & Politics, published in 2014 and edited by Kerric Harvey. The video was filmed and edited by one of my ex-students Robert Jewitt, and in the spirit of knowledge sharing and exchange SAGE have kindly agree to me providing a link to the full ten minute version of this video prior to it’s formal publication:
The SAGE video collections are a new venture in which video is being used to summarise key or major concepts in particular disciplines, much like in an encyclopedia but with more detail/context. Available alongside the book and reference collections on SAGE Knowledge, the video content will support a range of levels from reference content for research, to pedagogical content for undergraduate teaching, to higher level academic interest material. I was asked to comment on the definition, history and research context of interactive documentary for this collection.
I went to this workshop yesterday as the guest of Hazel Marshall, storytelling consultant for the BBC Academy. We’re putting together a training day for grant recipients from The Space on digital storytelling and what can be learnt from i-Docs. The first session is likely to include those who worked on the Digital Revolution exhibition and on 1418 Now.
Hazel has delivered a lot of courses on what can be translated from television into interactive digital platforms. I shall be bringing to the party my knowledge of interactive narrative, interface design and user experience. I’m really looking forward to working with her and developing some in-depth case studies drawn from the ever-expanding i-Docs canon.
The i-Docs Lab is modular workshop where we invite people to expand their understanding of what an interactive documentary is and use a purpose-oriented approach when creating new projects. We presented our first lab in January 2013 at the BBC Broadcast and Beyond day as part of Digital Bristol Week. As well as speaking at this event, as documented in this video, I also curated the ‘meet the producers of two success stories’ session. I was delighted to be able to invite my former colleague, Max Whitby, Founder and now Director of Special Projects at Touchpress Digital publishers to give a talk alongside Patrick Uden of Uden Media.
i-Docs is a research strand within the Digital Cultures Research Centre at UWE Bristol. It began with a Symposium – the first dedicated to interactive documentary – convened by myself, Jon Dovey and Sandra Gaudenzi in March 2011. We convened two further Symposia in 2012 and 2014 (with additional involvement from Mandy Rose) and edited a special edition of Studies in Documentary Film on i-Docs. Another symposium is proposed for 2016 and we are currently working on several collaborative projects.The i-Docs website has developed to become key UK resources in the field. Alongside the symposium and website we also run events as part of i-Docs Presents. I co-founded i-Docs because of my ongoing research into using computers and film to communicate multiple points of view in new ways. It goes back to my involvement with the BBC Interactive Television Unit in the early 1990s when videodisc was king. Even if things have moved a long way since then, it’s fair to say that some of the core principles haven’t changed.