Spatial montage and the enchantment of everyday life: towards the development of fluid interfaces for interactive documentary
Aston, J. (2010) Spatial montage and the enchantment of everyday life: towards the development of fluid interfaces for interactive documentary. In: Documentary Now! 2010, Birkbeck College, London, 15-16 January 2010.
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Publisher's URL: http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/researchcentres/crfac/
Building on Lev Manovich’s ideas about spatial montage and interactive cinema, this paper will provide examples of the author’s approach to interactive documentary based on an ongoing collaboration between the author and the anthropologist, Wendy James. The paper will draw on James’ audiovisual archive of ethnographic recordings from the Sudan/Ethiopian borderlands collected over a forty-year period, to show how interactive documentary techniques can be used to create a poetic response to these materials. Underlying this response are ideas about the creative treatment of actuality as a means through which to look at the transmission of culture across time and place through everyday life, music and dance. It will be argued that fluid interfaces and spatial montage techniques offer new possibilities for cross-cultural communication, which offer the viewer new forms of engagement with primary source material. Within the context of James’ ethnographic fieldwork, the paper will illustrate how these new forms of engagement can be used to make a series of interactive visual statements informed by ideas about the role of enchantment in everyday life. Whilst these visual statements contain their own internal coherence, they also sit within James’ wider body of ethnographic work across text, film and new media. They can be seen as offering an alternative but related approach to Nina Simoes work with the Korsokow system and docufragmentary, in which content is delivered as smallest narrative units and the viewer becomes creatively involved in the production of meaning.