This week Docuverse presented at the ASPERA annual conference at the University of Canberra. Nicholas Hansen, Kim Munro, and I attended the conference to talk about what Docuverse is, where the group emerged from, the symposium, where the group currently is in terms of our Snapshot events, and the future challenges we face.
Kim, started the talk by discussing where the idea for Docuverse emerged from. She noted that if there is a local community of expanded documentary practitioners, it is disparate. It was from this climate that the original desire to initiate a forum to show and discuss creative works and practices arose. The original impetus for this event, or symposium, before the idea of an ongoing collective,was to show and discuss work. In some ways, there’s a paradox about the desire for a real-life forum to discuss largely online and screen-based works.
From Kim, Nicholas talked about the planning of the symposium. Nicholas discussed how in January the call for papers went out, with the aim to attract group members and speakers. We divided the symposium program into slots with time to address the areas of ‘interactive, participatory, installation, locative, ethnographic and essayist’ documentary. The aim was to reach out to ‘documentary filmmakers, media practitioners and artists’ with a mandate to discuss the intersection between theory, practice and industry.
Nicholas then talked on behalf of Franzi, who currently resides in Germany, on the Docuverse symposium itself, whereby four months after our initial brainstorming session, we held the inaugural Docuverse symposium at RMIT’s non/fictionLab. The program consisted of seven presentations encompassing a range of thematic focus areas. The day kicked off with talks by filmmakers John Hughes and Nick Moore who reflected on their transgressions into vertical cinema and the micro essay within their (research) practice. After several screenings, the Q&A focused on curatorial and practical aspects of vertical formats and the internet as a site for publication.
I finished the talk by discussing the successes of the two Snapshot events we have held; the work-in-progress screening and Judith Aston’s talk, in terms of engaging with a more general audience. This success of our Snapshot events is due to an informal setting, and our growing Facebook group, and our updates on the non/fictionLab website. Through our various networks we are reaching beyond our personal academic and practitioner communities. I then talked about the current challenges we face by asking how do we make Docuverse accessible and inclusive enough to generate conversation and participation from our audience? And secondly, when and if we get this level of engagement, what type of approach should we take to turn Docuverse into a space where people can show, workshop, make, and collaborate on expanded documentary projects? Our aim then for the future would be to turn Docuverse into a space which could produce expanded documentary works.
As expanded documentary practice is not taught across a majority of the ASPERA institutions we received encouraging engagement from our audience. The ASPERA community was interested in perhaps Docuverse coming to their institution to provide a workshop on expanded documentary practices.
Here are the slides from our presentation: