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Ways of affection: How interactive documentaries affect the interactor’s felt experience and performance

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This article intends to explore how interactivity and new technologies promote new spectatorship performances and subsequently affect the interactor’s subjectivity. Through the analysis of three interactive documentaries, I propose and describe a taxonomy for addressing the felt experience of interacting in digital environments. Each selected documentary corresponds to a different mode of interaction and, therefore, engages the audience in a particular way: Bear 71 (hyperlink mode), Fort McMoney (conversational mode) and A Journal of Insomnia (participative mode). Throughout the analysis, I consider the interactor and the digital object as two interrelated and dependent entities that influence and shape one another. I argue the objects of interaction affect the viewers by inducing bodily felt sensations and shaping their subjectivity. As so, the sensuous encounter between the interactor and the digital documentary provides a virtual gratification for the spectator’s performance. Delving into a phenomenological and post-phenomenological investigation, I focus my attention in the microperceptions, as structures of sensory perception in the bodily dimensions of experience, translated as senses. As fragmented, multilinear and dynamic forms, interactive documentaries provide the audience with the agency of manipulating and developing the narrative, while conversely engender in the interactors what I address as ways of affection. I propose or adapt eight digitally disrupted and induced sensations, or senses of, for describing how interactive documentary affects users during the interaction performance: sense of control, sense of presence, sense of Self, sense of place, sense of belonging, sense of almightiness, sense of endlessness, sense of incompleteness.
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Keywords: affection; interaction; interactive documentary; multilinear narratives; phenomenology; senses

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000095114342iNOVA Media Lab - ICNOVA, University of Coimbra

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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