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From documentary networks to documentary worknets: Strategies of participation and co-creation in emerging practices of factual storytelling

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Starting from the premises that documentary assemblages are networks in the sense that they are not given but need to be established and are in constant flux leads us to the assessment that any interactive documentary environment is a collaboratory but also precarious endeavour. In this context, bringing into dialogue network theories, namely ANT ‘and after’, the concept of ‘assemblage’ and discourses around participation and co-creation can lead to fresh perspectives on different strategies and tactics of participation in collaborative factual storytelling. Still, two aspects need to be revisited: the symmetric approach to networks and the notion of distributed agency. These concepts will be discussed in terms of their value to derive strategies and tactics of (shared) authorship, the striving for a documentary argument and documentary authority on the one hand and participation, interaction and plurivocality on the other hand. In this regard, ANT makes certainly inspiring points but also has its shortcomings. One solution can consist in relating the axiom of ANT as an analytic tool to actual documentary long-term strategies as well as to stand-up tactics as, e.g. interventionist media-making, open space documentary and context-provision. Thinking of emerging documentary configurations not only in terms of hybrid transdisciplinary, transprofessional networks but pragmatic worknets can lead to a better understanding of how to balance different agents within these networks|worknets ‐ always keeping in mind that we are dealing with an approach that calls for constant self-reflection as it presents a case of what Law describes as ‘uncertain method’. All theoretical reflections are accompanied by an analysis of a paradigmatic documentary networks|worknet, The Quipu Project (2015).
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Keywords: ANT; agency; interactive documentary; intervention; network; open space documentary

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000404676972University of Bayreuth

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • The journal aims to provide a platform for the study of new forms of cinematic practice and fresh approaches to cinemas hitherto neglected in western scholarship. It particularly welcomes scholarship that does not take existing paradigms and theoretical conceptualisations as given; rather, it anticipates submissions that are refreshing in approach and exhibit a willingness to tackle cinematic practices that are still in the process of development into something new.
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