i-Docs 2014

On 20-21st March 2014, the DCRC at Bristol's Watershed and The University of Western England hosted i-Docs, a two-day event dedicated to the rapidly evolving field of interactive documentary. focusing on three themes; 'Production Models', 'Engagement & Evaluation' and 'New Territories'.


So much of what I have learned during the 'Participatory Production Technologies' and 'Cinehack' projects has pointed towards the opportunity to develop less rigids model of documentary production and distribution to reflect the variety of motivations, ideas and stories across groups of subjects/participants. Even though most documentaries are bound by a common theme or topic, there are often varying degrees of complexity, conflict and contradiction that linear narratives sometimes truncate by - for example - presenting multiple opposing views, in sequence, possibly implying the first is the 'default' view, or the final one is 'correct' view.

The opportunity to present my research at i-Docs was a great opportunity to establish dialogue with a community that is already deeply engaged with 'less rigid' models of documentary production and distribution. Interactive Documentaries (a.k.a. i-Docs) have already begun to suggest documentary structures that acknowledge multiple layers of meaning, through multiple narratives and multiple forms of representation.

Many of the questions I posed during my presentation early in the conference were met with fascinating and challenging answers later on, by artists such as Hank Wills Thomas, filmmakers such as Elaine MacMillon (Hollow) and Ramona Pringle (Avatar Secrets), technologists such as Philo van Kemenade (Popathon) and academics such as Sandra Gaudenzi (DCRC), Bjarke Myrthu (DocLab), Jon Dovey (UWE) and Kate Nash (Leeds University). Much food for thought, and some great contacts made for the future of this avenue of research.

That this was only the third of a series of bi-annual events provides a focus for my upcoming research in this area and - hopefully - an opportunity to contribute again in 2016.