THE ACT OF DOCUMENTING
BY BRIAN WINSTON, GAIL VANSTONE, WANG CHI
DOCUMENTARY FILM IN THE 21S st CENTURY
Documentary has never attracted such audiences, never been produced with such ease from so many corners of the globe, never embraced such variety of expression.
The very distinctions between the filmed, the filmer and the spectator are being dissolved. The Act of Documenting addresses what this means for documentary's 21st century position as a genus in the “class” cinema; for its foundations as, primarily, a scientistic, eurocentric and patriarchal discourse; for its future in a world where assumptions of photographic image integrity cannot be sustained. Unpacked are distinctions between performance and performativy and between different levels of interaction, linearity and hypertextuality, engagement and impact, ethics and conditions of reception. Winston, Vanstone and Wang Chi explore and celebrate documentary's potentials in the digital age.
“Fiercely argued, urgently rendered, and rigorously researched, The Act of Documenting whacks through the ethical, political, moral, evidentiary, and argumentative acts undergirding documentary production and reception. This gutsy, vital book cuts to the core of documentary: it interrogates the place of documentary in the world and how it engages people and ideas in ways that truly matter. Moving adroitly between the histories of analog documentary and the promising landscapes of digital forms, this substantial, sage book irrefutably shows that ethics, politics, and philosophical inquiry override formats, interfaces, and technologies. Polemical yet lyrical, forceful yet inviting, this book leaves the reader exhilarated with new ways of thinking about and through documentary. The opening chapter précis could be assembled as an intellectual toolkit for all us in the act of documentary-theorists, historians, practitioners, programmers, or offered as a manifesto cracking open the most salient issues demanding our attention and action.” – Patricia R. Zimmermann, Professor of Screen Studies, Ithaca College, USA
“By shifting emphasis from the category of documentary to the diverse practices of documenting, Winston and his co-authors exchange the generic preoccupations of many past approaches for a more open exploration of what is going on audio-visually around 'the real'. Their provocative appraisal takes our understanding of international media culture to new places.” – John Corner, Visiting Professor in Communication Studies, University of Leeds, UK