sean heaLy on Wed, 10 Apr 2002 15:11:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] online film vs banff

A yet to be shrunk to fit my column type interview that I thought u
might enojy in it's entirety?


Introducing Sara Diamond who runs the Media and Visual Arts program
at the Banff Centre (, works with documentary
production, and makes software at I missed her online
documentary workshop at the Adelaide fringe in oz due to trapeze
but she seemed happy to say this later:

>What attracted u to the online film-making?
I have been interested in the Internet and then the www as a means of
communication since l993.  It occurs to me that this format allows
levels of dialogue between a group of filmmakers who can engage in a
dialogue, one that shares differing perspectives around the same issue.
It is an ideal form to engage audiences in testimonials and debate
around questions in their lives.  I believe in a variety of forms, but
the interactive qualities of on-line video and media are particularly
appealing. The first projects that interested me were simple exchanges
of images and poems between communities that were in conflict in the
real world but able to solve their differences through the use of
distance communication.  The Electronic Caf International did amazing
work in this area as early as l991 and 1992.

>Important issues for writers / filmmakers tackling interactive media?
This is a form that incorporates what we know and demands that we take
risks to explore what we do not know.  We need to remember the elegance
and power of documentary photography and its history of montage for
example.  We also need to pay attention to access.  What kind of
bandwidth do our audiences have, what technology knowledge do they have,
how can we create an ease of experience for them. For exemplary sites
look at 360 Degrees, they really use the form of interactive media and
the web to communicate development over time, complexity, and

>Nobody watches films online. Too small, pixelated, is computer not TV.
Your response?
Well not yet, though broadband may change that with on demand services,
and the new confusion about broadcasters versus ISP delivery
mechanisms.  Millions of people down load illegally from the Internet,
so they do gather films on line.  But this is not what interests me as
much as what is now possible with interactive media and on-line
communication.  People crave communication, a sense of identification,
ease of relationship, fast information, the ability to change the image,
to quote and consider, These are wonderful qualities and demand
film-making as immediate, brief and powerful experiences, to kick off
debate or emotion, This is the ideal use of the on-line environment.

>Thoughts on balancing interactivity and narrative?
I think that it is possible to make work that has some of the power and
pleasure of narrative and the interruption, distraction and then extreme
decision-making process of gaming and other forms of interaction.  Or,
interaction can be understood more as a navigational, dwelling, drifting
kind of metaphor, like in Myst, or Eve, or as a puzzle metaphor, like in
Ceremonies of Innocence.  Interaction can build strong identification or
reaction around characters.  Look at Smart Hearts, Victoria Mappledecks
work and other, less empathetic, reality television.  People spent hours
with those characters.

>What new possibilities and creative processes are opening up?
Well, verite type documentary has always desired a fly on the wall
relationship with its subjects.  Lightweight cameras that are
unobtrusive place the documentary maker right into the scene.  This is
enabling, but also raises ethical questions around surveillance.  You
can again shoot at a high ratio because of high quality small format.  I
think that there is a shift in methodology around gathering and editing
material because working in short sequences that have their own logic
can allow you to remix digital objects or film elements.  Making work
over distances and without being in the same space is greatly enhanced.
raven bread

Some online documentaries you respect? (why?)
The wonderful experience in putting together the conference for The
Adelaide Fringe is that I had the opportunity to review a great deal of
creative and compelling work by documentary makers, in collaboration
with Peter Winntonick.  We explored four categories of documentary
practice that made use of interactivity.  Ill give an example from
each. The first panel considered participatory design, where audiences
are contributors.  I think that Madmundo is an
amazing project where everyday people can ask investigative journalists
to help them understand a political issue, solve a crisis or take on an
authority.  It is absolutely compelling and a really human, way to bring
social issues to the fore through not only an individual experience but
actually through collaboration.  For a very different experience, more
an environment than one work, explore, which is
the Aboriginal radio streamed media environment that aggregates content
from stations all over the world.  The second category explored the
relationships between surveillance, verite, spectacle and reality
television.  I mentioned Smart Hearts earlier; I suggest that you
examine the work of Blast Theory at  They create situations
where players or participants move between the web, mobile technologies
and actual physical or v.r. locations.  They enacted a kidnap scenario,
have made a virtual reality work about The Gulf War and developed a
large scale urban game played out on actual streets, on PDAs and
on-line. The third session looked at technologies of power, digital
media and human rights. We included tactical media groups such as with their films about the G8 protests, and
of course, I suggest exploring the work of
Rachel Baker at, because she uses intervention as a
documentary form, issuing smart cards that are knock offs of actual
corporate cards and bring users into a collective on-line where they can
shop for ethical goods.  Or look at,  a website about militarism
created through gaming. The final panel considered autobiographical
forms, but suggested that these were most effective either as short
intimate, funny statements on the web,, or poignant filmic ones,,  or through software the rearticulates your
computer through intervention,

How are the net and interactive media transforming documentaries made
traditional media?
The web cam,  helped to inspire Big Brother and
a 24/7 relationship to documentary subjects.  U8TV is a very successful
Canadian reality t.v. show about a group of media makers and designers
who live in a loft.  These shows combine surveillance with Jerry
Springer.  Reality t.v. is versioned all over the world, from Argentina,
to Australia to Hungary, let alone at the source.  The sense of
voyeuristic pleasure and the power to decide the fate of others without
personal implication seems to effectively cross cultures.  The
proliferation of digital media has opened some avenues for low budget
thoughtful documentary from alternate sources to find a space on

Your thoughts on film-making potential of real-time video software?
 (eg vjamm, arkaos expose, vdmx, visual jockey etc )
I personally like events where there are mixes of multiple live
streams,  whether in club situations, or perhaps theatres or on-line. I
like spectacle on occasion and look forward to the ways that the power
of presence  and actuality can become a better quality experience on the

3 video related urls that really imaginatively harness the web's
I mentioned, it has very strong design values,
making use of the time line in various configurations.  It uses video as
well as interactive experience to bring you first close the subjects and
then, close to the analysis. is the
SmartHeart site.  I love the work of XPT, a UK company who create pseudo
reality t.v. using video and a great deal of humour.

3 inventions you'd like to see?
An invention that can effectively save me from endless delays, missed
flights and lost luggage when I travel.  I travel constantly and have
long thought of starting the parallel site to Survival, mine would
simple be Travel and that I could make a small fortune sharing my horror
stories with the world and gathering those of others.
Clothing that is responsive and represents my social patterns and is
able, through tuning to find others who either parallel or oppose those
patterns.  I would also like it to be able to warn me when I am about to
faux pas in a social situation.
Furniture that remembers my body movements and those of others and can
play these back to remind me of pleasures now gone but fondly

3 things that make me smile at The Banff Centre?
Many things at The Banff Centre make me smile and sometimes cry with
happiness.  So, this is going to all sound corny:
When artists are completely and totally engaged in the process of making
something powerful and beautiful and they are smiling with delight while
pushing themselves to the limit.  I have to say, that happens a lot
When artists from really big cities see their first very large elk.
My staff. I work with the most amazing people in the world. I am SO

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