The Performative Archive: Formations of Social Memory in Interactive and Collaborative Documentary

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Session Title:

  • Memories, Archives and Museums

Presentation Title:

  • The Performative Archive: Formations of Social Memory in Interactive and Collaborative Documentary

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Abstract:

  • This paper examines the ways in which network and mobile technologies remediate documentary as a mode of practice for bearing witness to and shaping collective memory. Since the 2000s, a number of practitioners have experimented with the interactive and networking capacities of digital technologies to transform documentary’s modes of representation and the viewer’s engagement. These experiments have fallen within the categories of ‘interactive’ and ‘collaborative’ documentary. In this paper, I argue that the collaborative poetics of web documentary and locative documentary project reconfigures documentary memory as performative, participatory, social and connective, rendering it an ongoing interplay between the private and the public, and between the spatial (memory as navigating, locating, and mapping) and the temporal (memory as the confluence of the present and the past). To this aim, I examine several works in relation to the three modes of collaborative documentary projects based on the premises of the network and mobile technologies. First, non-interactive collaborative documentary projects based on the users’ participatory production or remaking of their memory about everyday life or cinematic fragments, which can be seen as the global archive based on the intersection of the individual and collective memories (Life in A Day, Kevin Macdonald, 2011 and Man with a Movie Camera: The Global Remake, Perry Bard, 2007-Present); second, a couple of web documentaries, whose hyperlinking structure corresponds to the patterns of the user’s affective and epistemological engagement with the multimedia forms of the archive, such as making connections, discovering similarities, differences or ambiguity (Highrise: Out My Window, 2010 and Welcome to Pine Point, 2011); finally, a couple of ‘locative’ documentary projects that use the mobile phone to encourage the user to document her own city in lived, embodied manner (Blast Theory’s Rider Spoke, 2007-9, Ulrich Fischer’s Walking the Edit, 2011).

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