The Are you happy? Project is the first output of the Collaborative Docs practice-based Research Fellowship. The Are you happy? Project is situated in the context of participatory media and is concerned with how documentary practice can take advantage of the affordances of the generation of web technologies known as “Web 2.0”. The project investigates – in practice and in theory – the potential for the “creative treatment of actuality” (John Grierson’s definition of documentary) as a collaborative practice in the networked environment of the web.
Filmmakers and film enthusiasts around the world have responded to a call to revisit the vox pops sequence from Jean Rouch & Edgar Morin’s seminal 1960 documentary ‘Chronique d’un Ete’. All the recordings can be seen on the project website http://theareyouhappyproject.org/. Selected recordings are being combined within an interactive web interface which will be launched in April 2012.
The practice-based research makes a contribution to scholarship by opening up this emerging field to scrutiny, asking how today’s collaborative online documentary relates to a history of documentary practice. In terms of its theme it makes a timely intervention into contemporary debates about well-being, exploring the relationship between individual and societal happiness.