Participatory mode – database documentaries – week 3

so, in my ever present abundance of work and readings and work and reading logs this week, i came across something from the cinema studies course that i felt very well attributes to what we’re doing over here in the study of Integrated Media. this was an excerpt from a somewhat lengthy book called the “introduction to documentary” by Bill Nichols about a specific tripe of documentary, the “participatory mode”. i have included the link below, hopefully you’ll be able to see it but you may not be able to without an RMIT login (although i doubt anyone reading this would be from outside RMIT anyhow so yay, readings for everyone!)

the book introduced something called “database documentaries” which seemed all too familiar to the “i-docs” which we read about in this course in week one. what the chapter discussed was how the participatory mode of documentary making sometimes extended beyond the interactions between the filmmaker and the subject of the film to being between the viewer and the film itself, thus making the audience a participant in the film, contributing to its structure and how it is viewed. this seems similar to the idea behind the korsakow films, where, as is mentioned in this book, the “viewer (is able) to chart a path through the spectrum of possibilities made possible by the filmmaker” and so each viewer, being a unique participant within the construction of the film, will have a unique experience of the film based on the choices they make and the paths which they follow.

it would seem that this new “participatory mode” or the database documentaries allow for a much richer viewing and storytelling experience, much like the korsakow films and the i-docs, which allow users to get what they want out of a film but also allow for potentially thousands of different ways to view one film, creating thousands of narrative possibilities. and it can only go up from here!

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