This is the abstract for a panel being proposed for Visible Evidence in Toronto this year. Panellists are nonfictionLab member Adrian Miles, Bettina Frankham (UTS), Ersan Ocak (Turkey), Fabiola Hanna (US), Karelle Arsenault (Canada):
There has been much recent innovative scholarship that has begun the work of defining, and critiquing, what is variously known as interactive documentary, i-doc, open documentary, webdoc, or digital documentary. In this field the ‘documentary’ half of the term interactive documentary appears well understood, relying on existing cinematic definitions of the term. ‘Interactivity’, on the other hand, is an adjective that is less well understood within this scholarship, being used in ways that wander between a word that seems to stand in for ‘internet’ or ‘digital’, something that designates a technical system that allows choices within multilinear narratives, through to a concentration on the ways in which interactivity reshape documentary form or audience experience. This panel contributes to this research by concentrating specifically on the interactive part of interactive documentary. It will offer four different views from researchers considering interactive documentary, each investigating a particular idea of what interactivity is, and how this affects what documentary becomes.
The panel includes work that considers interactive documentary from the point of view performative play, how interactivity contributes to cultural agency, the aesthetics of interactivity and documentary rhetoric, and the ways interactivity troubles existing theoretical assumptions . Each panellist will make a 5 minute presentation that follows a common structure (what their view/theory/point is, why this is significant to interactive documentary, what the implications are of this), and panellists will then, with the audience, discuss, critique, and expand on these ideas.
The aim of this panel is not to represent or argue for a single methodology or approach for interactivity, but rather to thicken and make denser the ways in which interactivity can be theorised, considered, and applied within interactive documentary. It is less concerned with taxonomies of interactive documentaries than on what interactivity does in relation to documentary.