Project lead: Prof. Dr. Winfried Pauleit (ZeMKI Lab "Film, Media Art and Popular Culture")
Project team members: Dr. Stefano Odorico
Funding institution: German Research Foundation (DFG)
The latest developments in digital technologies, as well as increased socio-cultural demands for participation, and beeinﬂussen are changing our perception, as well as the design, reception, production and distribution of non-functional audiovisual works. These developments form the basis for the emergence of a new, media platform-based film form that is becoming increasingly popular: Interactive documentaries that explore the classical linearity of film in fragmented spatiotemporal production forms auﬂösen. The research project investigates the interactive, web-based documentary film with the help of a broad pragmatic perspective, thereby breaking new scientific ground. The project aims at a precise understanding of this contemporary and so far hardly theorized non-functional film form with regard to communicative and collaborative structures, authorship, audience and realism.
More recently, an innovative branch of research has developed on the subject of interactive documentary or i-doc, open documentary, webdoc, transmedia documentary or digital documentary. In this field, the concept of documentation in "interactive documentary" is largely understandable, because it is based on a widely shared understanding of established definitions in the field of floristics. Interactivity, on the other hand, is a term that is much more in need of interpretation, also because it is used in so many different contexts in relation to the Internet and digitization. Interactivity is also understood as something that presupposes a technical system that in turn allows a choice between multilinear narratives and thus changes the documentary form and the audience's experience. The DFG project "Web-based documentary flm between discourse, technology and community building: the pragmatic turn" contributes to this branch of research by focusing specifically on the interactive part of interactive documentation. It investigates how interactivity can be described from an aesthetic perspective and how this can be described at beeinﬂusst, how documentation develops.
The aim of the project is not to represent or advocate a single methodology or approach to interactivity, but on the contrary to reflect in higher density how interactivity can be theorized, viewed and applied in interactive documentation. It
deals less with taxonomies of interactive documentation than with the question of what makes interactivity (and the aesthetics of interactivity) and how it activates and engages the audience. In addition to aesthetic analysis, the project focuses on specific case studies such as film festivals, digital media preservation, pragmatisms and research methodologies. So far, a book contribution on distribution issues and events related to interactive documentaries has been published. An essay on preservation issues will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal by December 2016.
The DFG project will be completed in August 2017. The planned results are: a book, a workshop in connection with the annual International Bremen Symposium on Film and a research website. The development and design of the website has already begun. The website should ideally serve as an international research platform for researchers wishing to participate in the debate on the topic of interactive and documentary film. The book will generally focus on the interactive documentary form as well as on aesthetics/new aesthetics, distribution and festivals and on Reﬂektionen on the research potential of these contemporary audiovisual forms. The book will be published in German and English. The workshop will focus - as the first of its kind in Germany - on interactive documentation as a research method. The results of the workshop, for which national and international researchers from this field will be invited, should further advance the theoretical debate on the topic and give important impulses for the final publication of the project.