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Television's “Event Worlds” and the Immediacies of Seeing: Notes from the Documentary Archive

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This article raises questions about the pictorial organization of documentary material in the context of a broader phenomenology of television. It looks particularly at the way in which combinations of shots generate “event worlds” for the viewer to engage with and gain knowledge from. Continuity and narrative development is often achieved by a commentary working across disparate kinds of material, including archive footage. How the visuals relate to specific times, places, and actions can vary considerably even within the same sequence. The viewing modes appropriate to watching composite material are briefly discussed, including their relationship to ideas of the evidential and the immediate. Two examples from the British documentary archive are cited to bring out the issues of perceptual management and cognitive control that are raised.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Politics and Communications, University of Liverpool

Publication date: October 1, 2004

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