Documentary iPad app enables photojournalists to create interactive, immersive and three dimensional video stories.
During IDFAcademy, the Doc Next Network and IDFA DocLab presented a workshop and case study about Condition One, the new immersive documentary iPad app launched on Nov 11, 2011. Condition One wants to take photojournalism to the next level, enabling documentary storytellers to shoot panoramic videos and combine these with the tactile possibilities of the iPad. The app is one of the fifteen digital projects selected for the IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling 2011.
Although IDFA DocLab has come to a close following a week of screenings and events split between Amsterdam’s art-deco Tuschinski cinema and theaters at de Brakke Grond, our dedication to curating innovation in digital documentary continues here. Watch this space for updates and reviews from the festival. And don’t forget to explore our new website — it’s the most extensive digital archive of projects, people, and companies pushing the boundaries of documentary.
Last Thursday evening, the newest edition of DocLab’s dynamic program showcasing cutting-edge works in documentary storytelling launched to a full house at the De Brakke Grond. It was just the beginning of a week full of live cinema events, performances, and industry panels dedicated to exploring new documentary narrative forms. Caspar Sonnen, curator of DocLab, the new media program at IDFA, kicked off the evening and welcomed the buzzing crowd to the opening reception of the Expanding Documentary exhibition.
Every corner of the exhibition space was packed with visitors navigating the diverse set of projects that traverse alternative ways of presenting documentary content. While the projects showcased this year varied in theme and experience, we applaud all the projects because they think outside the box and are creating challenging user experiences that explore never before seen stories. Whether the stories are told through video, immersive technology, photography, games, performances or collaborations, today’s project makers are working with new medias and going beyond traditional formats, time frames and narrative styles.
All the projects selected for DocLab’s digital documentary storytelling competition were on display on various screens for visitors to peruse at leisure while five of the works were built in the form of interactive installations. From birdifying your voice with Thijs’ What Is It Like to Be a Bird?’ to revealing the stories hiding behind objects in Barcode.tv, the selected projects further documentary narrative forms and increasingly involve interactivity in the form of user control and navigation.
An unrivaled hit of the night — and of the entire week — was C.A.P.E., a virtual reality performance and experience brought over by C.R.E.W. that literally lets you touch the documentary. How good was it? Sold out every single day. Equipped with video goggles, a headset, and a laptop you wear with a backpack, you are transported to the center of Brussels and go on a virtual walk and experience that is a part of a 360 degree environment. Led by a guide to make sure you don’t stumble over people at the gallery space or fall down because you can’t see where you’re going in actual physical space, you can look around, walk around (very often on rooftops), and just get lost in the city of Brussels.
DRAWING THE INTERACTIVE DOCUMENTARY: FROM PIXELS TO PAPER
The live cinema events go beyond traditional screening formats by taking the most innovative documentary gems to the big screen. These unique events provide the opportunity for a director’s cut of a project, enabling audiences to be taken on a personal guided journey. The first live cinema event opened with Caspar introducing the unique work of Dutch documentary artist, Jan Rothuizen, and the launch of his latest book: The Soft Atlas of the Netherlands.
It may seem a rather strange fit for interactive storytelling, but DocLab is all about experimenting with new formats of documentary storytelling — be they digital, an installation, or on paper in this case. Pen and paper, as the audience is alluded to, also has a lot of similar themes that exist in interactive work in the sense that a piece of paper has no boundaries.Inspired by documentaries, forms of journalism and different levels of interactivity, Rothuizen’s drawings have many levels of information going on at the same time. He takes everyday locations and visualizes them on paper, revealing personal stories, surprises, and a level of detail that a photographic image cannot capture. And because there’s no hierarchy of information in the drawings, there’s absolute freedom to the way it’s perceived and read.
Rothuizen explains that his drawings attempt to re-imagine the interactive documentary without thinking of ‘a book’ in terms of interactive media, because well, it comes down to a question of what is interactive — on a brain and physical level. Whether a fallen soldier’s room, a design studio space, or the room of a teenage girl who passed away, the lives and stories that are revealed in Rothuizen’s mappings are often melancholic and alway a very personal way of storytelling.
Jan Rothuizen’s The Soft Atlas of the Netherlands in the installation space.
RE-IMAGINING LIVE DOCUMENTARY STORYTELLING
The evening’s program also brought the audience face-to-face with the concept of live documentary storytelling taking center stage. Moving from paper and pen to paper and typewriter, writer Dirk van Weelden captivated the audience immediately when he chose an audience member to write a story about on stage. What happened next was live documentary storytelling at its finest. Weelden began by asking the participant a series of seemingly unrelated questions to which he readily obliged. Questions ran the gamut of: Do you collect anything? What personality traits did you inherit from your mother? Have you ever been in a house that was burning? Do you have a favorite island in the world? Would you like to be able to pilot a plane? Do you like horses?
Following this brief q&a, the audience began to watch a writer write in silence on a typerwriter. The only noise emanating from the room was the loud sound of each typed key. About five minutes of writing later, a story surfaced.
Descending in a small airplane
we spot an island.
Warm and sunny
in a sea of worry and pain
On the island is a little boy.
He knows god doesn’t need cash.
so he roams around, looking for ways
to work and pray.
On the shore line he meets a dog
bringing him a big box of matches.
Oh, this little researcher goes crazy
he almost sets his safe and peaceful island alight.
But his mother
a booming voice coming from the sky
shouts so hard, he runs to the shore in time to stop the fire
Franklin retreats to his cabin
rearranging his collection of bedlamps
Sleep will bring him back
to the world of work
All in all, a brilliant start to DocLab 2011! A night that revealed to all in attendance the possibilities of the documentary medium. Stay tuned for more reviews exclusively on doclab.org.
An experiment in transforming documentary cinema into a locative storytelling web-app.
The NDSM-wharf, an abandoned ship yard in the northern part of Amsterdam has become one of the most mysterious and beautiful places in town. After the last ships were built and christened in the 1950s, the docklands area slowly got abandoned and deteriorated. The wharf became a new home for people without a home, and for artists looking for a place to live and work freely. Festivals and illegal house parties were organised in the giant empty buildings and, in the end, urban planners and the rest of the city rediscovered the NDSM wharf. Nowadays, there are restaurants, artists making a living and offices housing MTV and other media companies.
Many aspects of the history of the NDSM wharf have been recorded over the years, for instance in Marjoleine Boonstra’s documentary Harbour: Roaming through the night (shown at IDFA in 2004). But also in the historic television images from the Dutch Sound and Image Institute and the Amsterdam City Archive. As part of the Culture Vortex program, a joint venture of these and other organisations, the rich history of the NDSM-wharf was turned into an locative documentary experiment by a team of talented app developers.
Take your smartphone (iphone or android) and take the little ferry from Amsterdam Central Station to NDSM and experience the stories hidden all along the docklands area. Find the codes and unlock all videos, pictures and soundscapes. The result is a locative mashup of documentary content, blending the past and the present and offering a unique point of view on one of the most beautiful places in Amsterdam.
Docs on the Spot is a project by Culture Vortex, a collaboration between the Institute of Network Cultures, MediaLAB Amsterdam, IDFA, the Dutch Institute for Image and Sound, Open Images and the Amsterdam City Archive.
The documentary installation is a visual arena with eleven screens in a setting resembling a panopticon.
This Sunday, November 20th, will see the European premiere of Evegeny Morzov: The End of Cyber Utopia, a documentary installation presented at the Pakhuis de Zwijger. It’s not part of the official IDFA DocLab program, but definitely a tip for new media skeptics and enthusiasts alike. Until the end of October the installation was seen at the Gwangju Design Biennale in South Korea.
Smartphone’s and social media seem to be the new weapons used to topple both dictators and power structures. The euphoria over the Internet and its revolutionary role, seems endless. One man, Evgeny Morozov states that this is nothing more than a mirage. He takes Backlight into his battle against cyber utopianism.
This installation is a reconstruction of a recording session in which author Evgeny Morozov is visually bombarded with thoughts and situations on the effects of the technological revolution on totalitarianism, democracy and the people concerned. Morozov shares his criticism, flow of thought and dilemma’s with us. Morozov is an angry young man who fights the cyber-utopianism that is so dominant in today’s world.
Morozov grew up in communist Belarus and was just 5 years old when the Berlin wall fell. While working for a NGO in the former Soviet Republics and Central Asia he tried to organize revolts using social media. Disappointed with the impact, he wrote the book “The Net Dellusion: How Not To Liberate The World”. His status on Twitter currently is: “in transit”. In the installation Morozov engages in an intellectual battle with a remix of Vpro documentary-clips from the last 15 years. Spontaneously he reacts on the dilemma’s presented to him, while moving around in what he himself sees as a panopticon; leading to a vivid dialogue with the images. The result is an immersive documentary experience over 11 screens.
This installation was developed by Marije Meerman, who works as a documentary director, together with the team of the future-affairs television series Backlight of the Dutch public broadcasting company Vpro. The Backlight team is a group of journalists, filmmakers and researchers that tracks current thought on the effects of globalization, technology and international politics over people’s daily lives.
Full 2011 program and events schedule is now available.
So, finally, here it is: the new website for IDFA DocLab, the official new media program of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. The bad news is, we’re still tweaking and updating some of the content. That means, you might run into a broken link here and there or stumble upon a page that is still less than perfect. If so, we’d love you to let us know at email@example.com.
More details for every project, making it easier to get in touch with the authors or follow the progress of a project.
With little over a week to go before the documentary world invades the centre of Amsterdam, we wish you a lot of fun browsing the website and hope to see you at one of the IDFA DocLab live events. If you’re not able to join us during the following ten days of festival mayhem, we look forward to hearing from you online or seeing you at another IDFA DocLab event, such as our annual Guest Program at SXSW Film & Interactive.
IDFA DocLab is the New Media program of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). Since 2007, the program showcases new forms of documentary storytelling and interactive media art, both online and offline. During the IDFA Festival in November, DocLab presents a competition program for Digital Documentary Storytelling, live cinema events, interactive installations, workshops and industry panels. The program is open to all media that can be used to tell a documentary story. more
IDFA DocLab is supported by Mondriaan fund and Amsterdam fonds voor de kunst