Interactive Documentary

With little notice, computer and web technologies just told us a lot about our contemporary world and its transformations. The developments have an impact on each level of human lives. Of course, As a way of narrational genre, the documentary is also affected by this revolutionary exploration.

By reflecting the logical connectives new form has the attributions of digital language, in other words its bases rely on the digital’s discreet nature. Remanding the basic syllogism with a well know example of “All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, Therefore Socrates is mortal” – it could also applied for the digital and the documentary relationship. Basically; quintessence of digital is discrete, interactive documentary is digital, Therefore quintessence of digital is discrete. It consist of small bricks that can be combine with each other  variously.

In the linear documentary making, shots are recorded then combined together on a timeline on a linear scheme. The exported documentary is one video file made up of quite a few shots. In other words, it is fixed. In contrast, interactive documentaries are designed to present video in separate files and its users can decide which elements to display in which order or have a random access. In a way user can participate the co- creation of the work as the co-author.

There are many scholars who did their research on the field of interactive documentary. One of them; Whitelaw (2002) observes that—due to the expansion of bandwidth, the development of online video and the increasing emergence of interactive documentary forms—the formation of relations between shots is altered in a multilinear structure:

“New media forms pose a fundamental challenge to the principle of narrative coherence, which is at the core of traditional documentary. If we explode and open the structure, how can we be sure that the story is being conveyed?” (Whitewall, 2002)

Gaudenzi (2013) draws attention to the evolving nature of this form of documentary within a field that is also continually changing. Gaudenzi states:

“If documentary is a fuzzy concept, digital interactive documentary is a concept yet to be clearly defined. What is implicit in its terminology is that an interactive documentary needs to use a digital support, and be interactive. A linear documentary that has been shot with digital technology, and that is distributed on the Web, is a digital documentary but not an interactive one.” (Gaudenzi,2013)


3d render eyeballsNash (2012) states that:

As new media technologies and new forms of communication emerge, contemporary documentary makers are engaging in a process of actively re-thinking the documentary project. They are imagining what documentary might become: non-linear, multi-media, interactive, hybrid, cross-platform, convergent, virtual, or something else as yet un-thought. Within this experimental space the webdoc has become an established mode of documentary production. (2012, p.197)

O’Flynn (2012), similar to Nash (2012) and Gaudenzi (2013), evaluates the emergence of different forms of interactive documentary across multiple digital platforms and connects this development with a transformation towards incorporating design into documentary practice. O’Flynn proposes that:

…notions of interactivity have changed over the past decade… [due to],a shift away from a binaristic ‘choose your own adventure’ orientation towards plot as an either/or structure and narrative causality to an exploration of experiential interface design. Here, i-docs of the last five years have demonstrated an increasing attention to interface and user experience design as dynamic structural elements expressive of a thematic core to the given narrative. (O’Flynn, 2012)

Game feel constitutes the new genre of documentary.

All interactive documentaries have the feel of game.

Even there is a novel genre of doc – games, which consist of the social events, mostly critical ones and the digital simulation of it. by allowing the users to participate in a scenario, the designers aim to give values and the strategic actions to their users as well as anticipate their reactions and get a data out of them. According to Dr Tim Lenoir, educators in the conflict resolution has recognised the role model simulation with the game playing. These lead major organisations like the Un and various similar organisations routinely use very sophisticated role-playing games in their classes. Learning by doing bridges the gap between the conflict resolution theory and its practical resolution in the world of crisis that requiring complex strategy, problem-solving and adapted thinking according to Dr Tim Lenoir.