Symposium to explore how documentaries can better engage audiences using technology

Issue date: 16 March 2018


i-Docs symposium in Bristol

The fifth edition of the i-Docs symposium, which is dedicated to the expanding and evolving field of interactive documentaries, is to take place from 21-23 March at the Watershed. The bi-annual event is hosted by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol)'s Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC).

The symposium provides a stage for practitioners and researchers to debate the latest developments in an area where documentary meets new creative technology, and showcases cutting-edge and prize-winning work in the field.

Interactive documentaries, where the viewer can take a more active role in the storyline, exist in a variety of formats. These include virtual reality experiences, where a viewer wearing a headset encounters a 360-degree view of the location depicted. Docu-games (where the player engages with a real world scenario), and browser-based interactive works are also examples of this type of documentary.

The symposium is set to bring together 200 delegates from all over the world and will feature Keynote talks and panels. Talks and panels take place at Watershed while projects will be on show at Arnolfini and at the Bristol VR lab.

Speakers at the event are to include Carmen Aguilar Y Wedge, a structural engineer and artist who marries art and technology to develop immersive experiences, and Alexandre Brachet, CEO of award- winning French web documentary production company Upian, who will explore how he has applied interactive elements to stories and interfaces in the documentary genre since 1998.

Other speakers include Liz Miller, Professor at Concordia University who uses collaboration and interactivity to connect personal stories to timely social issues such as water privatization, climate migration, refugee rights and gender violence. Miller will run a workshop on the process of involving partners, negotiating power relations and instigating different modes of engagement when producing interactive documentaries.

Film director Catalina Alarcón will share her experience of creating a documentary film and virtual reality workshop where inmates of prisons in Chile can travel back to their homes with the help of this technology. Artist Memo Atken will explore the use of virtual reality and artificial intelligence in the arts.

Over 30 academics, alumni and current students from UWE Bristol will take part in i-Docs 2018, sharing their research and practice, and helping to facilitate and film the event, reflecting the University's commitment to its City Campus development.

The event is convened by UWE Bristol's Judith Aston and Mandy Rose, along with visiting Research Fellow Sandra Gaudenzi, and produced by Julia Scott-Stevenson. Mandy Rose, Director of the Digital Culture's Research Centre, said, “We're delighted to host this event which brings together leading artists, producers and scholars to think critically about the role of emerging technology in reflecting and critiquing our shared world.

Things are moving so fast in this field. The symposium provides a precious occasion for the community deeply interested in this work to meet, catch our breath, and share ideas. This time we'll also be celebrating our fifth gathering!”

For all the latest news and information about i-Docs 2018 please visit the webpage follow @i_docs on Twitter.

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