As the subhead says, this is not a blog … not yet, anyway. I’ve re-purposed the software package into something that functions as a homepage, so go to one of the other headers and see if you can find what you’re looking for! Also, apologies to those who’ve stopped here only to find seriously outdated posts. Updates — especially to publications & links — are underway!
From May 5-7 2016, the MIT Open Documentary Lab will host a two day plus series of discussions and workshops entitled Virtually There: Documentary Meets VR at MIT. One of our goals is to disambiguate the different technologies papered over by the term VR (from 360 video to 3D capture) and tease out their aesthetic and ethical implications. Our thanks to the MacArthur Foundation, Phi, Fusion and the Ford Foundation’s Just Films for making this event possible!
Thanks to support from the MacArthur Foundation, the Open Documentary Lab mapped potential synergies between interactive and participatory documentaries and the fast changing digital journalism scene. You can find the report and some ancillary material here. Based in part on a conference at MIT with colleagues from the New York Times, The Guardian, FRONTLINE, PRX, Vice, Storyful, Narrative Science and many other publishers, platform-providers, tool-builders, scholars and of course documentarians, we teased out the possibilities and pitfalls of this fast moving convergence. Meanwhile, thanks to the hard work of Sarah Wolozin and our developers at Upian, Docubase (“a curated database of the people, projects, and technologies transforming documentary in the digital age”) emerged from Beta and is growing by the day! It’s the go-to place if you want to know more about the latest transformation of the documentary. The lab has assembled a remarkable group of people through its fellows program, and our weekly talks include such movers and shakers in the field as Raney Aronson-Rath, Kat Cizek, Glorianna Davenport, Brian Winston, Jeff Soyk and Florian Thalhofer (to name a few … follow the Lab’s link to see all of our events). If you haven’t checked out Moments of Innovation, do so! It’s a ‘visual white paper’ on innovation in the documentary form that goes back through a few thousand years of technologies and techniques, and puts today’s changes in perspective. And it’s beautiful (thanks, again, to Upian and the ODL team!).
There’s been a lot of interest in the lab’s work, and over the past few months, the ODL team spoke at Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW, IDFA etc. I gave a series of keynotes and workshops on the lab’s work and some of my other research in La Rochelle, Krakow, Budapest, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Montreal, Los Angeles, Prague, etc. I met some remarkably sharp and generous people along the way … but made a mess with my carbon footprint. Coming up? This summer will bring lectures in Montreal, Amsterdam, Nottingham, Budapest, Vienna and more, in addition to my annual stint in Utrecht.
On the publication front, this site needs some serious updates, but it never hurts to plug a few things that trickled through the pipeline over the past year or so. You can find links to most of the latest stuff (as well as some oldies but goodies) at academia.edu I really had fun writing a couple of articles on the motion picture and AV-sections of the 1898 Sears, Roebuck & Co. Consumer Guide. When you realize that millions of these circulated across the US and Canada (with 140+ pages detailing the experience, technology and business models of various media, film included) and that Mr. Roebuck was by this time in the movie projector business, it’s amazing that this source hasn’t been better used! Other essays included a piece on media specificity (which made good anecdotal use of the amazing Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel where Lessing and Leibniz were once librarians!); another on the future of film and cinema from a televisual perspective (the New Review of Film and Television Studies); and one on obsolescence, where I differentiate between the dynamics of re-placement and dis-placement (it winds up being about algorithms — my real passion at the moment). A couple of other pieces long in the pipeline finally saw the light of day in Screen (on the role of absence in media history), the International Journal of Communications (on the role of narrative in Wikileaks), The Journal of Visual Culture (in the McLuhan issue… on the Cambridge roots of McLuhan and Williams and their different visions of technology) and chapters in a couple of books including the very interesting American Studies Today. And … Roberta Pearson, Will Brooker and I have a sequel to The Many Lives of the Batman entitled Many More Lives of the Batman. It came out a few months ago with the British Film Institute and Palgrave, and has interviews with Grant Morrison, Denny O’Neil and Frank Miller, and essays by Paul Levitz plus scholars both senior (Jenkins, Spigel, Meehan, Collins, Pearson and myself) and less senior (Brooker, Gallagher, the Smiths – Anthony and Iain Robert – and Bevin. It’s quite a collection, and will ride the coattails of the media blitz for the Batman / Superman face off (or debacle, if the reviews are to be trusted!!) this March.
More to come — updating this, at long last, wasn’t so hard!
(for a look at my 2014 keynote at iDocs, check out this link. The 2016 i-Docs talk is coming…. And, for a keynote on tele-technological aesthetics at “A Switched-On TV: The Arts in the Black and White of the Cathode Ray Tube” … part of the International Festival of Films on Art in Montreal … see this link . And then there are the clips I could actually load!