The third edition of DocsOnline took place on 24 November 2007. Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, (NL) teacher and researcher of current media practices at Mediamatic, together with Bruno Felix presented and moderated the afternoon and interviewed the lecturers.
Adrian Miles (AU) lecturer in theory and practice of interactive video and hypermedia at the RMIT University in Australia analysed the current vlogging culture as a documentary practice, James Richards (UK) , development producer of BBC's Cross Platform Development Unit showed his project Parenting Video on Demand, that provides on-line access to 60 hours of video content editorialized into more than 90 viewer journeys. Alex Chan (FR) maker of the famous Machinima movie The French Democracy (FR) talked about how Machinima can seem realistic. Esther Polak (NL), prizewinning maker of MILK and other locative media documentary projects showed how locative media offer different constructions of reality. Bruno Felix (NL) crossmedia producer, founder of Submarine talked about the documentary elements in Submarines' game Crusade in Jeans.
Boudewijn Koole (NL) maker of the beautiful Herinnerdingen talked about ways to create aesthetic and contentwise coherence in projects of which user-generated content is a part.
Mediamatic workshop coach Jakob Schillinger (G) was invited by IDFA to make a Korsakow Project that was to function as an interactive programme guide to the DocsOnline programme, and that was played live on a seperate screen during the presentations.
This Korsakow Project was a databased index of all the projects and practices that came along in the DocsOnline programme.
All shown items in the project were connected through keywords, that revealed the technological, cultural or thematic relations between the practices and projects. DocsOnline plunged the workshop participants deep into the sea in which they were supposed to learn to swim in the coming five days.
The core workshop team this time consisted of Florian Thalhofer, Jakob Schillinger, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer and assistents Louise Berg, Eric Holm, Amy Patton, and Cornelia Durka.
On top of this we were the proud hosts of Adrian Miles from RMIT University in Melbourne, one of those precious practice-based theorists, that can conceptually dissect media practices and technologies without losing sight of how things actually get done. Adrian covered a large collection of topics ranging from vlogging to net-native documentaries, and from soft video to mash-ups with Google maps and more, in very a concise period of time, and gave a great push to the project development in this workshop.
Our other illustrious guest was Victor Kossakowsky, to whom all cinema is actually is documentary, because it is all about looking closely at reality unfolding itself in front of your camera. Kossakowsky talked about his instinctual way of filmmaking, and about the small miracles that begin to happen if you treat every moment as unique and unrepeatable.
This rich and varied diet of concepts and projects led the participants in developing a range of imaginative and inspired new approaches to the documentary practice. After five intensive days the workshop participants presented their projects on 20 November 2007 in De Balie in Amsterdam, as part of the IDFA programme.
The Nicest Nurse
Ulrika Geeraedts (SE /NL) developed a prototype of a video exchange network: a audiovisual community site for small hospital patients. Based on assignments like: 'film you nicest nurse', or 'film your worst hospital meal', and with some clear but simple rules about the form of the contributions to generate some aesthetic coherence, the little patients make small documentations of their everyday hospitalized reality, and upload these to a community website that also supports different channels of communication.
In every workshop with the Korsakow System, there is at least one participant who invents a way of using the tool that seems completely clear and obvious once it is made, but that nobody thought of before.
For the Any Media Documentary workshop @ IDFA 2006 this was Spanish documentary maker Jeronimo Mazarrasa.
His prototype of the 'footnoted film' The Ayahuasca Conversation suggests a whole genre of future Korsakow projects.
Not only does his project solve the basic tension between storytelling and interactive possibilities for documentaries, it also solves some basic issues many documentary makers struggle with. Like having to sacrifice really relevant and beautiful footage to your 45 minute slot. Like trying to negotiate different perspectives to topics with differently oriented audiences without losing coherence in the storyline. Like showing respect to the sensitivity of the material to its subjects but also trying to bring your own views across.
Whenever a viewer of The Ayahuasca conversation is offered a choice, it is between two possibilities: one is to go on with the linear story (indicated by an arrow to the right) or leaving the main story and going into.
Filmmakers Debby Koudenburg(NL) and Tony Telson (UK/NL) together made an atmosferic interactive video tour through the old center of Amsterdam, combining their own footage from the red light district with texts from Albert Camus' The Fall in which the geographical layout of Amsterdam with its rings of canals is compared to the spatial arrangement of Dante's Hell...
Documentarist Marta Zaccaron (I) made a kind of generic documentary on the dreams of a poor boy in a big city. She cleverly used the porousness (to use a term Adrian Miles brought into the workshop) of the web in her set-up. Her story consists of ten consecutive stages with accompanying texts. Every stage consists of one collection of strong pictures, all with the same text. When a user clicks through her project, at every stage the system randomly chooses one picture from the collection. So every time a different story of ten consecutive elements is created, creating a profound experience of the similarity of the dreams of otherwise unique poor boys in big cities.
Sytse Wierenga (NL) developed an almost alchemistical formula by which a software analyses and processes a spam mail into a short film that is published on YouTube. The spam mail is divided in sections, from every section the most distinctive word is chosen. These words lead to search queries among online video files, from which some sequences, sounds and single frames are copied and brought together into a new video file that is published on YouTube. The projects hereby automatically documents elements of online culture as it plots new trends in spam mails against new trends in user generated content.
The Grey Bench Project
Marijn de Jong (NL) and Leera Kim (RoK), to close of, developed a prototype of the Bench Connection. Most cities in the world have some public benches where marginalized elderly people come together. The Bench Connection project gives specific assignments to documentary makers all over the world to portrait the people on their local grey bench and to publish their stories in one huge community website, where all the grey bench stories are connected with keywords. These keywords relate to the times, places and themes that describe the people on the benches as well as the content of their stories. The assignment to the makers includes the condition that those contributing to the Bench Connection community website, show the site with their published footage to the people they have portrayed, thereby establishing a mediated connection between the grey bench dwellers.