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IDFA DocLab Interactive Reality Conference Report

Saturday November 24 experts from various fields joined the Interactive Reality Conference of IDFA DocLab in De Brakke Grond. This one-day conference explored the future of documentary storytelling with speakers such as Jonathan Harris, Vincent Morisset and Kira Pollack. Read the report.


  1. Sarah Wolozin

    Sarah Wolozin, director of the MIT Open Documentary Lab, launches the _docubase project (beta).
  2. Katarina Cizek

    Katarina Cizek is director of the NFB's HIGHRISE, an Emmy-winning digital documentary about vertical living around the globe. Kararina explains about the HIGHRISE project: "It is interesting to see how our project works as a connective tissue between residents and their city."

  3. HIGHRISE was aproached by the New York Times to make a short film about the history of the project:
  4. A Short History of the Highrise - Trailer
  5. Jason Brush

    Jason Brush is professor at UCLA & The Art Center College of Design. His talk contextualizes the making of web based documentaries. According to Brush, material specificity has always determined the framework for artists. They have always consciously used these limitations of formats and technologies (such as the size of an LP or film) in order to be creative. Brush argues that digital technology is completely divorced from that kind of limitations, which poses many new questions to artists and creators. 
  6. Brush continues: "The computer is a really a unique device; it is the first device that is as well a means for consumption as a means for production. You can connect different types of media together through software. Computer engineers and software designers did not used to work in an environment with artists, but this is changing. The interesting difference between these fields is that art can have its own internal poetics."

    Brush refers to Heidegger, who makes a distinction between tools that are ready-to-hand and tools that are present-to-hand. For example, one has to interpret his or her cell phone actively (present-to-hand) while cinema is actually ready-to-hand. "Many artworks today have a long prologue (present-to hand).
    Scrolling as an interaction method is ready-to-hand."

    According to Brush, production processes have dramatically changed with the emergence of the web.
    We used to know production processes like this:
    development - pre-production - production - post-production - distribution

    Now we are seeing more and more a design process that is far more iterative (Stanford Design School's Design Process). This process starts with different questions. Brush: "The first question is what are people's needs? Then one observes them and develops by iterating again and again. This requires a very different mind set than making a film."
  7. After the talk of Jason Brush, there is time for a question from the audience:

  8. Jason Brush answers: "It depends on the point of view of the author. For example Jonathan Harris quitted his project after a little bit more than a year. He consciously made the decision of ending it. Then there is always a question whether we are looking at something of the past ore not when we are online.
    Social media actually provide a narrow window to the present. When you do an online project, you have the feeling that the project is never done."
  9. Vincent Morisset

    Vincent Morissat is an interactive producer and created interactive videos for bands such as Arcade Fire and Sigur Ros. During his talk he gives an insight in his ways of working and presents us his thoughts on technology and how to (not) make use of it.