New media technologies are defining contemporary documentary practice. Digital tools are changing the way writers, filmmakers, photographers, and radio/sound producers work, how their work is received, and even the kinds of work they attempt. Digital production techniques make big-budget feature films faster and cheaper to produce; consumer electronic devices are increasingly sophisticated - making documentarians of everyone. Independent documentary makers are appropriating from this range of tools and techniques - altering their practice from pre-production, through fieldwork, into editing, post-production, and distribution. Inevitably, this melange of techniques has profound aesthetic consequences.
Documentaries presented via electronic networks are received by audiences in new ways. The Internet is already a major force for the distribution of independent work. Soon, interactive television, DVD, and other emerging formats will facilitate even wider dissemination. These new modes demand innovation on the part of documentarians. There is already evidence that the Internet is blurring the boundary between "the archive" and "the essay," as Web-based documents stretch to include sources, contextual materials, and links to related work. We are only just awakening to the possibilities for these new forms to incite questions, engage an audience and create connections in challenging ways.
This conference, sponsored by Brown's Multimedia Lab and Scholarly Technology Group, will investigate the impact technological innovation has had on the documentary landscape. Morning panels will foster discussion between practitioners and theorists; afternoon workshops will demonstrate production techniques enabled by new tools for documentary production and distribution. Evening screenings of our film festival will showcase new documentary film and video work. Please see our list of participants, and works to be screened.
With additional funding from Computing and Information Services, and the Rhode Island Historical Society.