We are writing. Four of us in the dining room, two in a lounge, others in their rooms (I think). Quiet intensity. Perhaps monastic. After an hour or so there is a common lull, some shuffling, brief walk, a little conversation. Then the writing and thinking and scraping resumes. What I note is that we all needed the punctuated respite. You just can’t sit and write and think and write for hours at a time. I had already got up for a stroll outside, shot a bit of video. It was as I was opening the door to come inside that I realised what the next part of the writing needed to be. I didn’t look for it, though I think it needed to be given the time to find its way.Tags: practice
Second full day of a research retreat at Strathvea, a guest house tucked away on a ridge up above Healsville. Encamped with a small group of colleagues from the nonfictionLab, we have spent the first day presenting creative nonfiction work in progress, looking ‘inwards’ at what draws us to the work, the material, the idea. Today we start what you might call the ‘academic’ writing where we now look outwards. What is the work about, how? What theoretical framework does it use, or what is the problem it is attending to? How and why should it matter to others, as an idea?
It is intense, and that everyone had gone to bed by 10pm the first night I think reflected the effort of this sort of all day concentrating making and then hours of listening, critiquing, testing. I am working on the first small scale version of a video series with the working title About 7am. It will take a year to make, simply because I need to film something everyday for a year, and May is done so I’m using that material to begin to sketch the work. Yesterday I heard some great writing, and today we are to write and then share around 500 words of that. I’m hoping to bring some of the essayistic that I heard yesterday into my writing today. Though as I sit by the window watching the crimson rosellas and king parrots run through their through daily protocol of access to the seed table, I’m feeling a bit intimidated by expectation, the quality of yesterday’s writing, and of not knowing where, how to begin from the list of what now feels like flimsy in my mind.
Tags: practice, travelling, workstuff
Australian Australian and one New Zealand colleagues and I had a quick chat at Visible Evidence in Canberra last December (the site’s already disappeared…) about ways to keep in contact as we are all so far away from each other, and so busy, that we don’t actually meet up outside of perhaps an international conference. The new documentary project and email list is the result, as well as the very small beginnings of a shared bibliography of resources. Membership is open to all and any, and the aim is to have somewhere to discuss and share work and ideas around digital, networked documentary theory and practice. It is an academic list, to begin with its primarily antipodean in membership, but what happens, happens. Perhaps in time we’ll expand it to other sorts of services or systems, but it is a small ‘d’ small ‘h’ digital humanities intervention using readily available and free tools to begin to build a local community. If tempted, please join us.
There are three things that matter in relation to a networked specific practice and media production. These three terms apply to the formal attributes of digital media, the qualities that practice requires, and how audiences participate, use, and engage with networked media. There is no hierarchy amongst these three terms, and they move prove to be insufficient. The terms are porousness, granularity, and facets. The list does not include database, user, or interactivity, as these are not causes but consequences of this triumvirate of terms.
Porousness describes the way in which the objects within networked media need to be open to each other internally, and externally. They are open internally to the extent that its constituent parts are available to its other constituent parts through what Weinberger has rather informally defined as ‘small pieces loosely joined”. Similarly, the work itself, as an assemblage of constituent parts, needs to be available to other systems and objects externally, out on the network. This allows them to be shared, curated, and used otherwise. Porous media does not want or need to monopolise my attention, screen, or hardware.
Granularity describes the smallest constitutive unit in a work that provides closure and coherence by itself. It is a meaningful whole, as is. This unit does not need to be narrative. A work that is highly granular can be regarded as very porous. When a thing is porous and granular they have a multitude of possible connections with each other. These possible connections are the facets that things present to each other, or which other things cause to be presented. As there are a multiplicity of such facets, in any networked practice only some of this set of facets are ‘realised’, however the more facets that are enabled and available, then the more possibilities for connections between parts exist.
Where the units within networked media are granular and porous then these elements remain as elements during, and after, publication and distribution. This means these small parts still make some sort of sense, even if shifted elsewhere and into other contexts. This makes it easy to remix material, and the facets that can be provided to search, find, connect, and identify these elements then the easier and more successfully things can be mediated and montaged.
Cinema has always existed in such a condition, and it is the shots granularity and porousness to other shots that makes the cinema possible. A shot, has, in the terms above, many facets available to other shots to form a sequence. This means that the shift heralded by networked practice and media may not be as large as many believe, so that it is not so much the formal attributes as others that need addressing as media making moves even more substantially into networked modes.
If I apply this to online documentary then it is easy to see that a lot of online documentary does not understand this. The most common criticism is that the works are closed, with perhaps a nod to the modern version of the guestbook (comments or some other crude device to collect and aggregate other people’s words to itself). The second is facets, where the ability porousness of the parts to itself are trivialised into menus of choice, even where such menus become fancy dots, mouse events, or some other way of making a menu appear to be anything but the menu that it is. This produces largely linear, radial pathways through material, much like the architecture of a 7-Eleven (put the key sellers, e.g. milk, at the back and have each aisle lead you through it, with the impulse purchases closest to the milk and the counter) which in so many ways betrays an anxiety of granularity, facets, and porousness.Tags: documentary, hypertext, practice, softvideo
Matt is one of the drivers behind the Korsakow system, and has a long history of project based research across design, interactive media, and digital documentary. He’ll be in Melbourne for a bit, soon, and we’ve taking advantage of that to schedule a few events to pick his brains.
Matt Soar Creative Provocations ::: A seminar series presented by nonfictionLab
Matt Soar works across creative nonfiction in interactive video, as well as design. The Creative Provocations series hopes to generate productive discussion about the contestable and ambiguous nature of the concept of nonfiction as a point of intersection for extending disciplinary and interdisciplinary frameworks.
Workshop: Nonlinear Storytelling with the Korsakow System Saturday 29 June, 10am – 4pm RMIT city campus, Building 9, Level 2
The web is currently going through a period of rapid change in terms of innovations in nonlinear, interactive storytelling. The Korsakow System offers a powerful platform for reflective, observational, poetic storytelling using video, stills, audio, and text. This workshop begins with an overview of recent work made with Korsakow, the ideas behind the software, and a guided tour of the application’s main features. Participants will then have the opportunity to make a simple Korsakow film, beginning to make their stories using their own media assets. RSVP to email@example.com
Paperbag lunch with Matt Soar Wednesday 3 July, 12.30 – 1.30pm RMIT city campus, Building 9, Level 2, Room 6 (this is just for the RMIT peeps I’m afraid)
Matt will present recent nonfiction and experimental projects including a database diary film www.embres.ca and a non-narrative, experimental, remediation of found film footage using the Korsakow interactive video system as a ‘sketch’ tool: www.lostleaders.ca RSVP to ali dot barker at rmit.edu.au
Public Lecture come Presentation An Afternoon with Matt Soar Wednesday 3 July, 4.30 – 5.30pm RMIT Design Hub, Lecture Theatre Level 3
Matt Soar works across creative nonfiction in interactive video, as well as design. He is a project leader for the Canadian Adventures in Research Creation that focuses on practice and project based methodologies. Matt is responsible for the continuing development of a major interactive video authoring platform, Korsakow. In this seminar Matt will share his recent Korsakow database diary film C’est n’est pas Embres, and a non-narrative, experimental, remediation of found film footage, Lost Leaders. Matt’s research into ‘articulation’ and ‘assemblage’ in relation to Korsakow films and poetic online documentary will also be covered. RSVP to ali dot barker at rmit.edu.auTags: Korsakow, Network Literacy, network practices, practice, softvideo
One of the ideas I floated at yesterday’s “Surface Tensions” symposium was that electronic literature is more in the register of the temporal than the spatial. I come into hypertext via cinema studies, and my early research was all about the ways in which hypertextual linking are exactly the same sorts of things as filmic edits (performative, pretty much able to join anything to anything). From there it is a small step to see that the Kuleshov experiment is about how the same shot can mean different things when placed in different relations. Hypertext works the same way (which is pivotal to something like Joyce’s “Afternoon”). This means cinema, and hypertext, are relational media, it is the relations between things that matter. Now, relations are significant because their terms are external to the things. This is the real point of the Kuleshov example. It is the same image of the actor each time but it comes to mean something different. How can something that remains the same mean something different? Because relationally is external to the thing, it is a set of terms that do not leave a mark (Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘incorporeal transformations’) upon the thing but which change the thing.
Now, as relational media when something appears, that is what particular set of relations it comes to be in (what sequence) matters. This is why, in a hypertext as in a film you can not visit the same space twice. By that I mean I may return to the same node in a hypertext a second time, but by virtue of its reoccurrence, the way its meaning will now change, or the way in which its reappearance will now change how I understand the story as a whole, it is just not the same node. Like the stream, you can’t visit the same node (or shot in a film) twice. It is not mere repetition.
From this we can see that it is a temporal medium. If for no other reason than a space is somewhere I can return to. Yes, it will be different (that’s time though, isn’t it), but I give you an address, and you, and I, and others, can meet there. We can meet there today, and tomorrow, and the day after. It is repeatable. We can’t do that with time. I can meet you at this address at 11am tomorrow, but I can’t return to that 11am tomorrow at another time to meet you. It never stays still like place and space. So in hypertext, and most forms of digital media, even where I might have spatial montage, as that phrase tells us, it is the montage (which is the temporal part) that matters the most. (And is hardly new to new media, film makers used split screens from very early on in cinema, not to mention of course the history of diptych and triptych compositions in painting.)
This temporality becomes interesting because it seems there is a will to movement, to passage in time, where writing moves or leaves the space of the page towards the temporality of something else. Possibly cinematic, though I don’t think it wants to be cinema, it might just want to drink from the same well as the cinematic as a temporal thing. The page is fixed, the reader largely controls the time of the text, here the materiality of the digital on a screen realised through its temporality as a post cinematic writing shifts or introduces time into the object itself. It is seeking a place in time. That’s really interesting, somehow.Tags: hypertext, practice, Theory
Nice questions and provocations. “If it is about the literary, and if the literary is about language, how is this ‘contained’ in a database?” “If language is local and mediated locally, and digital infrastructure is global [and by implication the same everywhere] then what is the relation of one to the other?” (Manuel Portela.)
History matters. The history of the discipline of digital humanities is not well known outside of the discipline and is too easily either appropriated, or misread, by those coming in. For Willard the change was the arrival of the Web, which was a tsunami that ignored what had been before. Hands on, practical making experience, is fundamental to the digital humanities. You need to make to get the materiality and thickness of the digital. Otherwise you misjudge the possible and the available. Interdisciplinarity matters, but it is a process not a thing. In the digital humanities the boundaries are fluid, but the discipline needs to build itself to be a more robust discipline. It is a trading zone, and in the digital humanities are perhaps poachers more than traders. (Willard McCarty)Tags: commentary, hypertext, Network Literacy, practice
Nonlinear Storytelling with the Korsakow System
Matt Soar (Concordia University, Montréal) and Adrian Miles
Saturday June 29th, 10am to somewhere around about 4pm
RMIT city campus, Building 9, Level 2.
The Web is currently going through a period of rapid change in terms of innovations in nonlinear, interactive storytelling. This is partly because of faster computers and Internet connections, but also due to the emergence of a range of easy-to-use tools for media-making. The Korsakow System has been around since 2000, and offers a powerful platform for reflective, observational, poetic storytelling using video, stills, audio, and text.
This workshop begins with an overview of recent work made with Korsakow, the ideas behind the software, and a guided tour of the application’s main features. We will then make a simple Korsakow film. Participants will then spend the afternoon beginning to make their own stories using their own media assets.
Places are strictly limited. The workshop is free. To confirm a place (and please only ask for a place if you can attend) please rsvp to Adrian Miles
- Matt Soar
- Introduction to RMIT student work using Korsakow – 2010 collection – 2011 collection – 2012 collection
- Post Industrial Video
From my inbox:
Im writing with a proposition that I hope can be circulated amongst your teaching and research staff in the field of Media Studies.
The proposal is to crowd-source input for an online documentary on the topic of media technologies and their role in defining the information gatekeepers of each age. Its an experiment partly funded by the CitizenJ department at The Edge, Queensland State Library. Details can be found at www.collaborativeav.com.
Given the changing media landscape, where previous business models are being challenged by new digital formats, it would benefit the public greatly to have an informed discussion on the nature of media and how it shapes (or is shaped by) politics before the next federal election.
This discussion is timely, as Fairfax CEO Roger Corbett recently suggested that the ABC be restricted in its provision of services because it apparently impinges on the readership of corporate media, thereby affecting corporate profits. His comments were foreshadowed by reporter Andrew Bolt at The Herald Sun, who noted that there is a push amongst the Liberals to privatise the ABC and SBS if Abbott wins the September election.
The topic is also timely in light of the exodus of newspaper journalists in 2012, reported bias and media influence in policy areas such as the carbon tax, and frequent suggestions of media law reform by Senator Stephen Conroy.
Input is sought from media academics in response to 20 questions covering two broad areas: an historical overview of media technologies and Australia’s current media landscape. Once academic responses have been collated, animation and documentary film schools and networks will be contacted for their input.
The style of the documentary is guerrilla. It is intended for a young, viral audience. Academic speakers are invited to film their responses and send them via Dropbox to the project facilitator by the start of July. More details are online.
This is an exciting project and one that could have implications for future documentary models online. We hope your staff will be keen to participate.
If there are any questions, please dont hesitate to email [firstname.lastname@example.org](mailto: email@example.com) or call 0427 769 455.Tags: documentary, practice