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Thanks for the comments, nice to get a little back and forth going. A brief
response from my end....
I agree that artists/creatives/whoever shouldn't be limited by what
documentary is defined as. At the same time, we build atop what we have,
and artistic practice stems out of a genealogy of other practices. So my
point about timecodes was less about the micro-constraints setup by a
platform, and more about the way limited timecodes gesture towards broader
understandings of what documentary is, what form it takes, what its purpose
is, and so on.
If you attempted to submit your work to a traditional documentary film
festival, for example, these limited understandings might come out as
institutional or distributional imperatives, rather than technical
limitations. These assumptions might be that it is a 'film', made by a
single human 'director', which can be watched by an 'audience' from start
to finish. I would also venture that the requirement to 'educate' you
mentioned is also one based on this genealogy. ;-)
All this to say that documentary is embedded in a lineage of optical media,
and that we don't have to intentionally emulate this legacy to nevertheless
be unconsciously and automatically conditioned by it.
Which brings me back to the limits of the optical, and how 'new media'
(hate that term) might instead focus on the operational. As mentioned, life
today increasingly seems structured by the operational logics of
technologies, operations which are complex, ubiquitous and largely unseen.
What would it mean to document such operations, and how might these
documents elude the constraints of the visible?
I'm thinking of the Atlantic's recent article on stock photo depictions of
Bitcoin, "because there's nothing better than images of collectible coins,
stage props, miniatures, and professional models to convey the intricacies
of a distributed, decentralized, encrypted digital asset functioning as a
virtual currency." Or for an earlier example, perhaps Sergei Eisenstein's
20 pages of notes for how to film 'Capital'.
Both of these cases, it seems, are attempts to ring-fence the multi-scalar
structures and distributed performances of the operational into the bounded
space and time of the optical. Both of these subjects are fascinating,
imho, but this shoehorning of the operational into the optical seems like
it misses out on much of this complexity. These kind of subjects need more
scrutiny, but they also need dynamic new forms to accommodate them.
On 13 April 2018 at 23:16, Garrett Lynch <li...@asquare.org> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hi Luke
> Many thanks for your comments. We wanted to point out a small point about
> the time-codes in relation to our work but more importantly respond to the
> role of documentary in new media as you have outlined it.
> Linking an idea of 'traditional documentary structure' with the time-code
> ability of a typical web player seems to us for the most part disconnected
> cause and effect. It's a fact that our film/video exceeds a lot of web
> players' time-code abilities but is the issue the film/video or those
> players? It could equally be stated that the programmers of those players
> didn't do a particularly good job - assuming standard film durations
> (several players' time-codes stopped at 3 hours), which has nothing to do
> with documentary per se, rounding-off at an even number (more players'
> time-codes stopped at 10 hours) and as I know occurs, that those
> assumptions/poor coding are then replicated though shared code being
> implemented into 'new' players that are in fact just re-skinned versions of
> the original. To us, both programmers ourselves, it makes no sense if you
> have a timecode 00:00:00 that you would stop at 10:00:00 when you have the
> capacity to go to 99:99:99 - even old analog calculators did the equivalent!
> Anyway this aside, we are unsure why in the first instance as
> artists/creatives we should be considering 'traditional documentary' in any
> way (including structurally) as defining what documentary in new media
> should do. Documentary yes and as you stated Luke that it should teach in
> a broad sense but even documents in the definition you provided is in new
> media a misnomer applied in GUI contexts (along with desktop etc. and they
> are gradually fading from use). Porting or transcoding from one media form
> to another never works very well.
> To us the problems of new media documentary lie not in a support/platform
> issue such as this but more in addressing the viewer's (combined with being
> a learner) expectations. That is that film/video is non-interactive
> (although not passive) and how that intersects with learning, which is an
> interactive experience, or that documentary should sequentially move the
> viewer through a body of knowledge, introducing, building on that knowledge
> and somehow concluding when there can be other ways (such as non-linear
> access or one concept/message mentioned in my previous email).
> Consequently, not alone does a new media documentary need to educate
> viewers about the content but it also needs to educate them about the form
> delivering that content. That's nothing new in new media itself.
> Jerusalem, We Are Here does this quite well through its onscreen prompts,
> graphic symbols etc. Best of Luck doesn't do it at all but then again we
> have a lot less to educate the viewer since there is only one
> concept/message and we are building on a well established pre-existing form
> (i.e. web-based video player with control bar etc.) that we can assume a
> viewer will understand since they are already on the web and must have
> basic web 'literacy'.
> On Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 10:19 PM, Luke Munn <luke.m...@gmail.com> wrote:
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>> Hey everyone,
>> Long time listener, first time caller. ;-) Thanks to Dale for the
>> invitation to contribute.
>> I'd like to return, if I may, back to the concept of documentary, and
>> what a 'new media' form of documentary might exactly entail.
>> Documentary, as a word, stems from an idea of teaching using documents,
>> providing a factual record of something. And of course these documents, in
>> the filmic tradition, are necessarily visual, they entail surfaces and
>> images, which are read as one reads any surface or image.
>> But looking across the works listed here, it seems they are all
>> struggling to convey structure, not surface--something operational rather
>> than optical.
>> As Garrett and Frédérique have discussed, their work emerges precisely
>> from the frustrations with the six minute video, and how such a neatly
>> packaged duration in no way conveys the conditions of such a massive
>> bordered space (or indeed the 'life-times' of the subaltern as Tadiar would
>> say, that might go into building such a wall). The result is something that
>> begins to literally exceed the capabilities of traditional documentary
>> structure, and hence the time-code glitches with typical players and the
>> need for a custom player.
>> In a similar fashion, Dorit's work seems to be about the operations of
>> memory, in which the content is as much about the invisible as the
>> invisible--those things that our current technological condition has
>> rapidly erased through its hyperfocus on the now and its resulting
>> historical amnesia.
>> Toby's work is a 'vision quest', but one in which vision largely proves
>> inadequate. In these frames of running water and dark shadow, much is
>> hidden beneath the optical surface, and the power of such a work is
>> alluding to the forces, the energies, the latent capacities inherent in
>> these sites of significance.
>> For myself, looking at my "Null Island" as a piece of documentary
>> admittedly seemed very strange at first. This is, after all, a 3d
>> environment that one can explore, based on a fictional island at the GPS
>> coordinates of 0,0. And yet, "Null Island" does document a very 'real'
>> technological condition, a condition operating every minute of every day, a
>> condition made possible through an array of geospatial satellites, and a
>> condition that intersects with everyday life at the moment we take our
>> smartphone from our pockets.
>> GPS, like many of the 'documentary' subjects here, becomes political in
>> that it actively determines the possibilities available to subjects and
>> spaces. Such a politics, operating at the level of protocol, attains part
>> of its power precisely from its invisibility.
>> And this, then, might be the design brief for new media documentary, to
>> 'document' the ubiquitous but often invisible logics that increasingly
>> infiltrate life-forces in our current neoliberal milieu. Such a brief would
>> include both content and form--locating significant conditions operating
>> unnoticed beneath our cultural and political landscapes as fitting subjects
>> for documentary, and at the same time, developing expanded forms of
>> 'documentation' able to present these subjects: new intersections of sound,
>> media, code and presence that expands (or at least supplements) the
>> progressive display of still images at 24 frames per second.
>> Luke Munn
> Garrett & Frédérique
> Current events and soon:
> Real Virtuality The Networked Art of Garrett Lynch:
> A network of people who attended an exhibition and contributed to the
> creation of this work
> Pick up a postcard and participate at any of the following galleries:
> Aksioma Institute for Contemporary Art (Ljubljana, Slovenia), Bannister
> Gallery (Rhode Island, USA), Centro ADM (Mexico City, Mexico), Centro de
> Cultura Digital (Mexico City, Mexico), Gallery XY (Olomouc, Czech
> Republic), Gedok (Stuttgart, Germany), Guest Room (North Carolina, USA),
> Human Ecosystems (Rome, Italy), Kunst Museum (Stuttgart, Germany),
> Laboratorio Arte Alameda (Mexico City, Mexico), Le Wonder (Bagnolet,
> France), MUTE (Lisbon, Portugal), NYU Art Gallery (Abu Dhabi, United Arab
> Emirates), Open Signal (Portland, USA), Plymouth Arts Centre (Plymouth,
> England), The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art (Plymouth, England),
> Transfer Gallery (New York, USA), Upfor Gallery (Portland, USA), Watermans
> (London, England), Wilhelmspalais (Stuttgart, Germany), WOWA (Riccione,
> Italy), ZKM | Center for Art and Media (Karlsruhe, Germany)
> Garrett Lynch: A network of people @ Galerie XY (Olomouc, Czech Republic)
> 9 - 13/04/2018
> Best of Luck with the Wall (variant) @ European Media Art Festival, Report
> - notes from reality (Osnabrueck, Germany) 18/04 - 21/05/2018
> empyre forum