To Create Live Treatments of Actuality: An Investigation of the Emerging Field of Live Documentary Practice

The field of documentary is undergoing a transformation as it collides with digital technologies. A new arena of Interactive Documentary production is thriving, and critics and scholars are taking note. Within this field, there is less attention to new opportunities and new theoretical challenges for live practices within the documentary sphere. This thesis argues for a fuller conceptualization of Live Documentary practice. First, it questions the current state of assumptions about documentary, as a form related to the ‘document,’ as a particularly film-leaning form, and as a lasting and historicizing form of discourse. Next, it examines the historical underpinnings of two forms of live documentary practice and exemplar projects of each: Live Performance Documentary and Live Subject Documentary. The former is situated in the media category of live theater and performance, and the second, the author will argue, is an instantiation of television in its earliest configuration as a device for two-way audio-visual communications and not just unidirectional broadcasting. The study concludes by positing a third medium-specific form of live documentary native to the computer, the Live Data Documentary. This final, more speculative form is defined by drawing on the meanings of ‘liveness’ examined in the previous chapters and the history of real time computing to generate a suggested framing for computer-native live documentary practice.

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Julie Fischer

Julie Fischer

User Experience Researcher, Google Play at Google