actions

This collects the key actions (a more interesting way of describing activities) that the nonfictionLab undertakes. Collected under the menu you will find the major events and initiatives of the lab.

present tense Series Kicks Off with ‘Writing the YA that Teens Deserve’

 

Writers and readers of young adult fiction converged on the Design Hub last Monday night for the first in RMIT’s present tense lecture series. The event, ‘Writing the YA that Teens Deserve’ was curated by PWE Program Manager Penny Johnson. present tense is a free series of public events celebrating the rich diversity of writing at RMIT University, supported by the Writing and Publishing programs and non/fictionLab. The series is curated by Professor David Carlin, a non/fiction Lab co-director.

RMIT’s Professional Writing and Editing teacher Clare Strahan (The Learning Curves of Vanessa Partridge) opened the sold out event. Writer, reviewer and literary agent Danielle Binks sat down with award-winning novelists Alice Pung (Laurinda), Simmone Howell (Girl Defective) and Cath Crowley (Words in Deep Blue). Speakers explored questions about the responsibility of YA writers to their audience and pondered questions about how to write compelling, authentic stories. The authors spoke about why they write YA fiction, their no-go topics (if they had any) and their understanding of the readership and what teens ‘deserve’. The event was a chance for students, staff, alumni (including writers Suzi Zail and Kate O’Donnell) and the interested public to chat over refreshments and get inspired.

There are seven events planned for this year’s present tense series, which has been growing since its inception in 2016. The next in the series will be the Unlecture curated by Tresa LeClerc and Piri Altraide. This performative event aims to overturn the traditional Australian style lecture. The theme for this year’s Unlecture is ‘Movement’ and it will feature Yorta Yorta song carrier and RRR broadcaster Neil Morris and Congolese born, NZ raised Melbourne based poet and spoken word artist wāni. It is scheduled for 6pm on Tuesday the 24th of July.

Ecologies & Dialogues: A Recap of Docuverse 2018

On April 4th, Docuverse held their annual symposium on the topic of Expanding Documentary: Ecologies & Dialogues at RMIT University in Melbourne. Initially set for February 9th, the event was rescheduled due to Adrian Miles’ sudden passing earlier that week. The postponement allowed the inclusion of a commemoration, in which Docuverse invited fellow colleagues and students to share fragmented responses on Adrian’s work and its imprints. In a randomized fashion, Pauline Anastasiou, Hannah Brasier, Nicholas Hansen, Stephanie Milsom, Kim Munro and Franziska Weidle eluded to some of the central concepts and ideas in Adrian’s most recent thinking. An incomplete list might encompass: media machines, documentary data collection, fragments, computational nonfiction, granularity, the cow in the field is not a story, a spider orchestra, critical intimacy, speculation. Furthermore, Adrian Miles’ colleague and friend as well as Associate Professor and Head of Cinema Studies at the School of Media and Communication Adrian Danks opened the symposium with a few words on Adrian’s work and life. Among other things, he highlighted Adrian’s involvement and ongoing support for Docuverse and commented on his eagerness to engage in Dialogues.

The first dialogue of the day, then, started with a conversation about Virtual Reality and 360° documentary. In his talk entitled “The Creative Treatment of Experience”, Max Schleser approached VR as a “dream space” that would invite us to explore and experiment by bringing different theories and practices to the table. Through the lens of his Neocortex project, he elaborated on the notion of “spatialized storytelling” as a special feature of VR that would emphasize the present tense and link body movements to hermeneutics. Continuing the discussion, Catherine Gough-Brady spoke about the potentials of 360 to shape the story in the audience’s mind by focusing on the form’s specific visual qualities and physical effects including lo-fi, dizziness and the impression of being encompassed by the image. In her work, she explores, for instance, how these effects can create magical wonder by focusing on “nothing” instead of aiming for a clear direction of the audience’s attention. The dialogue that developed in response to Max and Catherine’s presentations mainly focused on the fact that in VR and 360 filmmaking, the lines have not been drawn clearly just yet, which confronts filmmakers with new playgrounds as well as new challenges. It remains to be fully explored how these spaces can be creatively treated in order to follow a documentary pursuit. For audiences, these technologies certainly create new experiences in the way they isolate them in their viewing engagements but also allow them to ignore where they are meant to be looking.

The second session of the day centered on a show and tell by Christine Rogers. In her short experimental film Belong / not, she explores how the unknowability, gaps and fractures of her Maori past might be evoked through an autoethnographic video practice. In the discussion following the screening, comments involved the notion of stitching images together and juxtaposing different layers as a possible way to open up ambiguities and associations. However, it was also noted that i-docs and particularly Korsakow would be well suited to build collections of fragmented, incomplete narratives. Not only would this form allow a linking of different types of materials. It would also draw attention to the gaps between the individual pieces.

The concluding session of the symposium featured a skype improvisation by Anna Wiehl and Daniel Fetzner from Germany who presented their work-in-progress Living through Illogic Logics. With the aim to stimulate dialogue between the different agents involved in OCD, Anna and Daniel found it useful to turn to Korsakow as a tool for representating the “controlled un-controllability” at work in this condition. The resulting dialogue within this specific ecology would not be based on explanation and cognitive understanding but on an “affective engagement” which focuses on processes rather than products. In this way, their project presentation highlighted the two key terms of the day and successfully brought the symposium to a close.

With the support of Craig Hight, the day concluded with the launch of Docuverse’s e-book anthology Docuverse: Approaches to Expanding Documentary. Providing a diverse range of perspectives on the expanded documentary field, the e-book includes chapters from Adrian Miles, Max Schleser, Gerda Cammaer, John Hughes, Karelle Arsenault, and Liz Burke. In his laudatory speech, Craig particularly highlighted the importance of Docuverse as a forum for stimulating critical reflection on practice, thinking through practice and sharing the lessons learnt from that investigation with a wider community of research-practitioners in the expanding field of documentary. A digital copy of the ebook can be accessed online at https://zenodo.org/record/1211520#.WswQmNNubOQ.

Photographs by Nicholas Hansen and Hannah Brasier.

WrICE Partners with Leading Asian Literary Centre

non/fictionLab’s Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange Program (WrICE), now in its fifth year, will partner with the Jakarta Post Writing Center in 2018. WrICE contributes to an Asia Pacific community of writers in a collaborative way, while the writers centre is attached to The Jakarta Post, Indonesia’s multi-award winning, leading English-language daily newspaper.

In April and May WrICE will bring together 12 writers from throughout the region in Indonesia. The writers—novelists, poets and essayists—will take part in a collaborative residency in Yogyakarta, before appearing at a public festival at the Writers Center in Jakarta, The Writers’ Series.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to work with WrICE this year and to bring the group of writers to our Series,” said Jakarta Post Writing Center Director Maggie Tiojakin, herself a WrICE alumna.

The theme of the Writers’ Series festival on May 4­–6, ‘The Story of Us’, highlights the need for new narratives in a world inundated with misinformation and mixed messages. Ms Tiojakin said that the series’ theme calls for writers, educators, and storytellers to come together and craft a new story for each other.

The event, expected to attract close to 1000 participants, is a combination of roundtable discussions, reading performances and presentations.

“The Writers’ Series is well aligned with the WrICE program’s goals, exploring what we can do to change our collective story as global citizens. We’re also keen to share the work and experiences of our wonderful group of Australian and international writers with a new audience,” said WrICE Co-Director David Carlin.

The 2018 WrICE Program will team five exceptional international writers and three outstanding RMIT writing students with internationally renowned Australian Aboriginal writer Ali Cobby Eckermann and one of Australia’s leading young novelists, Rajith Savanadasa.

Ali Cobby Eckermann’s first collection, little bit long time, was written in the desert and launched her literary career in 2009. In 2017 she received a Windham Campbell Award for Poetry from Yale University USA. Rajith Savanadasa, a former RMIT Professional Writing and Editing student, was named Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelist in 2017 for his debut novel, Ruins.

After Indonesia, the WrICE writers will reunite in Australia in August and September for the Melbourne Writers Festival. WrICE is overseen by non/fictionLab at RMIT and generously supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.

Participating writers for WrICE 2018 are:

Lavanya Shanbhogue Arvind (India), Andy Butler (Australia), Ali Cobby Eckermann (Australia), Han Yujoo (South Korea), Joshua Ip (Singapore), Fiona Murphy (Australia), Gratiagusti Chananya Rompas (Indonesia), Rajith Savanadasa (Australia), Dicky Senda (Timor), Saaro Umar (Australia).

Relocating ourselves in our practice

Docuverse Snapshots, 11 November 2017

On 11 November 2017 we celebrated two years of Snapshots events with an end of year planning session and screenings of work-in-progress projects by filmmakers Catherine Gough-Brady and Paola Bilbrough.

The gathering was designed to reflect on the year’s program and consider ways of invigorating the bi-monthly events, which are designed to afford ongoing dialogue between university researchers and industry based documentary practitioners on a broad range of topics relevant to both.

Firstly, Catherine Gough-Brady screened the 9 minute Filming (2017), what Catherine is calling a ‘digital paper’. This work explored the documentary as a set of interactions, between subject and documentary maker, at times using footage including outtakes from previous documentary film work.

Following the screening Catherine discussed the filmmaker’s dilemma of dislocating ourselves in our practice. How as documentary filmmakers we cast for on screen characters and in so doing cast ourselves out of the film process. Catherine discussed a possible way to resolve this dilemma through forming a term for the film ‘subject’, who becomes a ‘character’ in the film edit.

Catherine discussed exploring the ‘digital paper’ as a way to resolve the distance between academia and industry, between theory and practice. I was left thinking how as practitioners in academia we are often renegotiating the documentary form, and Catherine’s presentation highlighted a negotiation of space for the documentary filmmaker inside the frame.

When I later asked Catherine about what excited her about the expanding field of documentary practice, Catherine responded…
“I like each of my projects to have a sturdy fence, it defines the area to play in, and it means I can change the character of that field as often as I can get away with it. Forming the narrative out of the landscape is a large part of what I like about being a documentarian.”
– Catherine Gough-Brady

Catherine’s research inquiry currently titled ‘Creating documentary characters: A practice approach to rethinking the filmed subject’ is concerned with the disappearing documentary maker. The answer here seems to be that through playing with reflexivity we may work towards an ethics of representation.

Catherine Gough-Brady’s reworking of Nicholas Hansen’s photo of her.

The second presentation from Paola Bilbrough was a screening of a version of Willing Exile, the practical output of Paola’s PHD (2015) ‘Givers Takers Framers: the Ethics of Auto/biographical documentary’.

Through Willing Exile (18 mins) Paola is re-embracing family history and playing with notions of memory, truth and performance of self. The film traces Paola’s parent’s marriage and their efforts to balance parenting with a counter culture lifestyle and their respective identities as artists in 1960s and 1970s New Zealand. Paola describes Willing Exile as a ‘performative documentary poem’ -a fresh take on the genre of ‘domestic ethnography’.

Again, the film explores re-positioning the maker from outside the frame to inside the frame. Paola discussed the film as a dance between the aesthetic impulses of the filmmaker and the rights of participants.

Paola Bilbrough in Willing Exile

When I later asked Paola about what excited her about expanding field of documentary practice …

“From my perspective, documentary practice and definitions of what that actually is are constantly expanding; I see my contribution to this as hinging on the way I use participatory processes and incorporate poetic, performative strategies in sensitive auto/biographical and cross-cultural contexts. My focus is on relational ethics and an organic, flexible practice, that alters to fit the context and whomever I’m working with. The story that unfurls is dependent on my relationship with participants.”
– Paola Bilbrough

This Snapshots forum and platform for linking theory and practice was enlivened by these presentations and ensuing discussion.

There were elements of cohesion between Catherine and Paola’s approaches, as both are developing the form through different ratios of the subject and character and the filmmaker’s presence, reversing the invisibility of the documentary maker and negotiating a more intimate on-screen presence.

David Carlin meets the Papa Mfumu’eto comic archive from Kinshasa, Congo

This February, David Carlin encountered the remarkable sequential art archive of the Congolese artist, Papa Mfumu’eto as an invited keynote artist and lab workshop leader at the Text Meets Image & Image Meets Text: Sequences and Assemblages, Out of Africa and Congo conference in Gainesville, Florida. The conference, organised by Nancy Hunt and Alioune Sow of the University of Florida’s Center for African Studies, brought together historians, anthropologists, visual studies and Africanist scholars with museum curators, artists and writers. These included Jean Comaroff from Harvard, Phillip Van den Bossche, Director, MuZEE, Ostend, Belgium and Patricia Hayes from Visual Studies at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. The focus was the work of Papa Mfumu’eto, ‘perhaps Africa’s most phenomenal street artist of comic zines’ (Nancy Hunt), whose vast archive of zines written in Lingala and French has been acquired by the University of Florida library. Conference participants were able to immerse themselves in the archive as well as to engage in a ‘critical forum about methods and politics in text-image studies’.

In a keynote evening at the Harn Museum of Art, David read excerpts from his book The Abyssinian Contortionist (2015), alongside an artist talk by French-based Beninois visual artist Didier Viodé and a performed reading (with improvised saxophone accompaniment) by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Congolese novelist and playwright based in Austria and author of the widely acclaimed and award-winning novel, Tram 83. David also led two experimental ‘lab work’ sessions at the conference, inviting some playful, informal approaches, first to sharing knowledge and then to listening for and ‘essaying’ into the stories and questions suggested by the archive.

David Carlin with Fiston Mwanza Mujila.

Artist Didier Viodé with literary scholar Naminata Diabaté from Cornell University.

Some of Didier Viodé’s artwork on the theme of migration.

A workshop at Eastside High School featuring Didier Viodé, Fiston Mwanza Mujila and US sequential artist Tom Hart.

 

Present tense .5 Faking It: The Problem with Authenticity and Sincerity in the Memoir

With Robin Hemley

Are memoir and autobiography always the same, or does memoir belong to neither nonfiction nor fiction? What is the autobiographical pact and what is the authenticity effect? In the final present tense for the year, we’ll stride confidently through this minefield of reader expectation and authorial deceit, blowing ourselves up repeatedly.

RMIT Adjunct Professor Robin Hemley has published eleven books of fiction and nonfiction, winning many awards for his work including three Pushcart Prizes in fiction and nonfiction and a Guggenheim Fellowship. For nine years, he directed The Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa. He is currently Director of the Writing Program at Yale-NUS in Singapore, where he is also Writer-in-Residence, and a Professor Emeritus at The University of Iowa. Robin is Founder of the international NonfictioNOW Conference.

Details

Tues 5 December

6:00–8:00pm

RMIT Design Hub

Level 3

Lecture Theatre

Cnr Swanston and
Victoria streets

 

Registration

This event is free but registration is essential. Register here.

Women Writers in the City at West Space

RMIT’s non/fictionLab invites you to join us on Monday 30 October for a performance of creative work and Q&A by Zoe Dzunko and Annabel Brady-Brown.

This is the sixth and final outcome of Women Writers in the City, a project supported by the City of Melbourne 2016 Arts Grants.

Women Writers in the City at West Space

Zoe Dzunko and Annabel Brady-Brown present a multi-dimensional performance that explores ideas of weight bearing, economics, creativity, sacrifice and the opacity of boundaries in women’s labour. Responding to a number of representative effigies that render female figures as both custodians of and accessories to the politically loaded structures they adorn, the pair use poetic and critical texts placed in conversation with one another. Followed by Q&A.

West Space
Level 1, 225 Bourke St
Monday 30 October
6.15pm for 6.30
Annabel Brady-Brown is co-editor of The Lifted Brow, a founding editor of Fireflies film magazine and film editor at The Big Issue. Her fiction and criticism have been published in The Lifted Brow, 4:3, Kill Your Darlings, Senses of Cinema, The Canary Press, MUBI Notebook, LOLA, Indiewire, Variety, and more, and she was a participant in the Locarno Critics Academy 2016.

Zoe Dzunko is co-editor of The Lifted Brow and in 2014 she founded Powder Keg Magazine, an online poetry quarterly based out of Melbourne and New York. She is the author of numerous chapbooks, most recently Selfless (TAR, 2016), and her work has been supported by programs such as Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Tin House Writer’s Workshop, and Yale Writers’ Conference. Her writing has appeared widely in Australian and international publications, including The Age, Australian Book Review, Southerly, Guernica, Tin House, The Fanzine, Prelude et al. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Deakin University, and completed her Masters degree at Melbourne University, where she teaches creative writing, small press publishing and independent media.

Supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program.

DOCUVERSE 2018 call for proposals

DOCUVERSE 2018
Expanding documentary: Ecologies and dialogues

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

Since its inception in 2016, Docuverse has been aiming to bring together a diverse range of people from independent filmmakers and artists to research-practitioners and industry representatives. With its third iteration, our symposium will continue to foster these cross-disciplinary conversations that are increasingly necessary to navigate the expanded documentary landscape.

For our annual event on the 9th of February 2018 at RMIT University in Melbourne, we invite contributors from different backgrounds to open dialogues into various directions:

  • between filmmaking, programming and design thinking
  • around points of tension and contact between different approaches and skillsets
  • on how to navigate challenges that we cannot find clear answers to
  • or any other aspect you deem relevant for advancing expanded documentary further

Following the idea that the electricity comes in the exchange, we specifically welcome experimental and more dynamic formats such as in-conversations, provocation-and-response or incubator workshops. To kick things off, on Thursday the 8th February, we will host a pre-conference evening including screenings of submitted projects and the launch of our e-Book. If you have a creative project you would like to show, a conversation proposal, or another format for a presentation, please send us a few sentences about your work or idea accompanied with a short description of how you would like to present it on the day. These proposals should not be longer than 150 words. Preference will be given to submitters who can attend in person. We also welcome short creative works submitted for screening.

Please email proposals to Kim at docuverse.symposium@gmail.com by November 20th, 2017.

Docuverse events archive: nonfictionlab.net.au/t/docuverse
Community: facebook.com/groups/docuverse

Docuverse team:
Hannah Brasier (RMIT University)
Nicholas Hansen (RMIT University)
Kim Munro (RMIT University)
Franziska Weidle (University of Göttingen)

Docuverse is supported by RMIT’s non/fictionLab
nonfictionlab.net.au

OzWallace 2017, the first ever David Foster Wallace conference in Australia, was held at RMIT University from 1-3 September. Sponsored by non/fictionLab and the International David Foster Wallace Society, it featured 25 presentations from a diverse array of speakers from around the world, including David Hering’s keynote address on Wallace, Ronald Reagan and the 1980s. There was a Howling Fantods fan event, a trip to the AFL Women’s League football at Etihad stadium and a puppet show (derived from Infinite Jest) to entertain the participants.

https://www.facebook.com/OzWallace2017/

Docuverse presents: David Bradbury rough-cut screening of ‘The Darkest Hour’
image credit: Louis Fisher

 

On Tuesday 22nd August, Docuverse will be hosting David Bradbury and screening his rough-cut edit of his new film, The Darkest Hour. 

The film will be screened in: Building 80, level 4, room 11. Please arrive at 6.30 for a 6.45 start. Email docuverse.symposium@gmail.com for confirmation of attendance or any questions.

This rough-cut is NOT yet finished but is a great opportunity to see the documentary editing process in action as well as to speak with one of our best practitioners and give him valuable feedback before he goes back into the edit room with editor Walter McIntosh.

More info

David Bradbury, one of Australia’s most respected documentary filmmakers took his family to the US last year. Tired of constant rejection by ABC Factual and SBS Independent, his plan was to see if he could break  into a bigger fish pond (Netflix, HBO, Sundance, Stan, Amazon etc).  He quickly deduced it was not possible beyond committing several years of struggle to break in from the outside as a Newcomer. Too many other hungry American indie filmmaker’s mouths to feed.  So he did the next best thing. And what he liked to do most. He decided to shoot a film about what he was seeing three months out from the shock election of Donald Trump.

Eight US cities later as Bradbury toured his latest film (‘War on Trial’ – a feature length doco made on the princely cash sum of $6,000), he chronicled what was happening on the streets of America; 40 years after Ronald Reagan introduced the economic theories of Milton Friedman and the infamous Chicago Boys to the world. Globalisation. What Bradbury’s camera captured is not a pretty picture. He interviews veterans of America’s failed wars to maintain Empire, gets down in the gutter with the Homeless to find out what life is like on the streets, speaks to a nun who was violated by the military junta in Guatemala under the directions of a CIA operative, goes to the US/Mexican border where Trump plans to build the Wall, visits the rust belt of middle America where factories are closed and people are hurting. Ending up at the Standing Rock protest camp for Election Day. Standing Rock was a rallying point for Native American Indians and their environmental supporters stopping an oil pipeline cutting through sacred lands and over gravesites. To give context to his critique of the American penchant for Empire.  The Darkest Hour intertwines archival footage from some of Bradbury’s previous award winning films shot in South East Asia, Central and South America.
Recap: Docuverse presents Reaching Out & Looking In

For our latest Docuverse Snapshots we had Dan Edwards present a talk called Reaching Out & Looking In: Independent Chinese Documentary Today. Dan is a Melbourne based academic, writer and journalist interested in Chinese and Australian film and culture. For this Snapshots talk Dan shared with us his extensive knowledge of Chinese independent documentary.

Dan began by drawing attention to the explosion of Chinese independent documentary which emerged out of the arrival of digital technologies in the late 90s and spanned till 2011. He discussed how during this time these documentaries were played at unofficial screening events, often in informal venues, removed from State censorship and not played on television or cinemas. Dan then went on to describe the characteristics of this burst of documentaries as observational, showing interaction between filmmaker and subject and showing disenfranchised communities and/or individuals. It was these types of documentary techniques which allowed these films to be political without explicitly criticising the state or country. As Dan described these films often took on a less confrontational approach by making visible what the mainstream media didn’t cover or glossed over. These films were activist films simply because they did what the mainstream didn’t.

Of particular interest to Docuverse, in terms of expanded documentary practices, was Dan’s mention of participatory initiatives in the mid-2000s. He drew particular attention to The Memory Project (2010) in which documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang trained people from rural areas how to use digital filmmaking equipment. These trained individuals then interviewed villagers about their memories of the Great Famine of the 1950s, reflecting a common characteristic of independent Chinese documentary during this time – to explore memories that are unacknowledged by the state-sanctioned media. Dan noted how some of the participants of this project have gone on to make feature length films. While the site to watch these interviews was shut down this year, Duke University Press has preserved over 1000 of them in an online collection.

As Dan discussed this rich period of independent Chinese documentary, one kept wondering what happened in 2011 to stop this proliferation of films. Dan came to answering this toward the end when he talked about the “dramatic tightening” of the party state on culture and education that has happened in China since 2011. This tightening came as a mixed result of concern about the so-called “Jasmine Revolutions,” increased ethnic unrest and an increased feeling that independent cinema was overstepping the mark. In 2012 power was cut to the 2012 Independent Film Festival in Beijing. Dan finished his talk by highlighting that whilst Chinese audiences don’t have access to independent Chinese documentary today, we have seen increasing internalisation of these films. However, they are much more polished and tight structurally to appeal to Western audiences.

The questions which followed Dan’s talk revolved around whether or not these Chinese documentary filmmakers are film school trained, whether essayistic modes were prominent, and the role of the internet for distribution.

In an area not covered by Docuverse yet, Dan provided comprehensive insight into the rather unknown aspects of Chinese independent doco.

Dan has written a book entitled Independent Chinese Documentary: Alternative visions, alternative publics (2015).

Photographs by Nicholas Hansen and Hannah Brasier

“Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. But I wouldn’t want them back. Not with the fire in me now. No, I wouldn’t want them back.” – Krapp’s final words, in the play Krapp’s Last Tape, by Samuel Beckett.

It’s awkward when one can’t work out how to spin a photo for this blogpost, but we did at least manage to spin the wheel at last night’s third movement of The Symphony of Awkward at the Urban Writers House. For this rendition we employed bingology as method, each round delivering a number that was duly translated into a date. Each of us then presented a contribution from her archive corresponding to said date, so that assorted diary entries, childhood art works and photographs were patched together into a kind of faulty fugue. We still don’t know where we are going with this, but there is something so compelling about our experiments that we shall continue to meet, and to diarise our sessions as well, towards some kind of co-created research outcome, and possibly, in due course, a public event.

Kat Clarke and Emily Bitto read from works in progress

Please join us at the Urban Writing House on Tuesday 25 July for an informal reading of works in progress by Emily Bitto, author of The Strays, and Kat Clarke, graduate of RMIT’s BA (Creative Writing).


This is the third outcome of Women Writers in the City, a project supported by City of Melbourne 2016 Arts Grants.

non/fictionLab invited Emily Bitto and Kat Clarke to create new work, collaborate on an experiment in mentorship, and explore what it means to be a female-identifying writer in the city of Melbourne.

This reading in the Urban Writing House is a rare opportunity to hear them read from works in progress in an intimate space. There’ll be time for questions and there’ll be snacks and wine.

Emily Bitto’s debut novel, The Strays, was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2013. The novel was published by Affirm Press, and went on to win the 2015 Stella Prize. Emily lives in Melbourne where she co-owns and runs Carlton wine bar Heartattack and Vine.

Kat Clarke is a multi-talented creative and consultant. Being a proud Wotjobaluk woman from the Wimmera, she takes pride in being active with both her own community and the Aboriginal community in Melbourne. Having graduated from RMIT in writing, she finds herself mostly merging her storytelling with her other passions such as arts management, community development, and film. Her upbringing and driven passion for her culture, has guided Kat to become a Cultural consultant for gaming and film companies interested in telling First Nations stories.

Date: Tues 25 July
Time: 5pm for 5.30pm
Location: Urban Writing House, Stewart Street (behind Building 80, opposite the basketball courts – 80.1.8).
RSVP: ronald.scott@rmit.edu.au

Supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program.

Docuverse Snapshots: Karelle Arsenault

Snapshots: I recall an interactive documentary…

By Kim Munro

Part-way through her presentation on interactive documentary and memory, Karelle began to recount memories of sleepovers as a child. Karelle and her gang of movie-loving friends would line up their mattresses in the basement and have ‘watching marathons’ that lasted well into the morning. They would eat pizza and watch movies (often horror), compiling quantitative data such as the number of murders in each Friday the 13th sequel. Karelle then invited the Docuverse audience to speak about their own memories and we each recalled similar ‘film events’ from when we were younger.

There are many reasons why memories of watching films remain vivid; the collective experience of watching films, a formative time in our lives, the cultural position and posterity that many films and TV series have acquired. But how will interactive documentary be remembered without these factors which help us to retain the experience of where we were when we watched these?

Karelle Arsenault’s presentation explored and questioned whether interactive documentary projects will still exist in the future, and if so, how will we remember them? Karelle’s presentation prompted many questions about how we engage in interactive documentary as an individual rather than collective experience, or as something that is studied (a “discourse of sobriety”[1]?) rather than viewed for pleasure. It also raises broader issues around the changing viewing habits that tend further towards individuated experiences rather than collective ones. The longevity and impact of interactive documentary is an issue that is often discussed in scholarship in the field. Jon Dovey claims that given this is a relatively new field, we will still need more time to ascertain its impact, establish audiences and develop a culture.[2] Karelle’s presentation gave us both the opportunity to think about our own film memories while also critically questioning the role and place that interactive documentary might hold for us in the future.

 

Workshop recap:

By Hannah Brasier

Karelle’s second event with Docuverse was her The experience of interactive documentary workshop. In this workshop Karelle worked through a series of questions with a group of 6 participants on their experience with The Block (SBS); a web documentary on Redfern’s infamous block in Sydney . The workshop ran in a focus group style, however Karelle’s intention was that everyone attending could take something away from the discussion. The discussion cultivated by Karelle’s questions spanned from how and when we interacted with The Block to the specifics of the interface design and content.

As most of those who participated in the workshop were makers Karelle was interested in how the interactive documentary experience could be improved to alleviate the tension most of us felt between the intention of The Block and the experience of it. Most of us felt that while the interface provides a map of the places within Redfern’s block there was no way us as users could experience these places. So, while there were a catalogue of video interviews with those who had a connection to the block there was no connection made in the interface between the interview stories and the places. The map of the block as interface then appeared to have little significance.

This tension between intention and experience is something which has emerged throughout Docuverse’s events, so it was great that Karelle gave us an opportunity to discuss this in detail. What emerged through the discussion was that there are often tensions between the interface and the content of a project. As interactive documentary makers we need to give users the agency to explore content in a way which enriches their relationship to what they are seeing.

images: Hannah Brasier

[1] Bill Nichols, Introduction to Documentary. 2nd ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010, p. 250.

[2] Jon Dovey, ‘Who Wants to Become Banal? The i-doc from Experiment to Industry’, in Judith Aston, Sandra Gaudenzi & Mandy Rose (eds), i-docs: The Evolving Practices of Interactive Documentary, Wallflower Press, London & New York, 2017, p. 274.

Lunchtime Lit: Emily Bitto & Kat Clarke at the Emerging Writers Festival

RMIT’s non/fictionLab invites you to join us on Thursday 22 June as Stella Prize-winning author Emily Bitto (The Strays) and multi-talented writer Kat Clarke discuss what it means to be a woman writer in the City of Melbourne.

Hosted by the Emerging Writers Festival, this is the second outcome of Women Writers in the City, a project run by RMIT’s non/fictionLab and supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program. We invited Emily Bitto and Kat Clarke to create new work, collaborate on an experiment in mentorship, and discuss their ideas, experiences, and craft.
Emily Bitto’s debut novel, The Strays, was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in 2013. The novel was published by Affirm Press, and went on to win the 2015 Stella Prize. Emily lives in Melbourne where she co-owns and runs Carlton wine bar Heartattack and Vine.

Kat Clarke is a multi-talented creative and consultant. Being a proud Wotjobaluk woman from the Wimmera, she takes pride in being active with both her own community and the Aboriginal community in Melbourne. Having graduated from RMIT in writing, she finds herself mostly merging her storytelling with her other passions such as arts management, community development, and film. Her upbringing and driven passion for her culture have guided Kat to become a Cultural consultant for gaming and film companies interested in telling First Nations stories.

Date: Thursday 22 June, 2017, 12.30pm
Cost: Free
1000 £ Bend (Unknown Union)
361 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

Supported by the City of Melbourne Arts Grants Program.

More details here.