Submission deadline: January 5th, 2015
University of California Santa Cruz, May 15-17th, 2015
“POETICS AND POLITICS: A DOCUMENTARY RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA CRUZ
MAY 15–17th, 2015
In April 2013, an international group of documentary scholars and scholar-practitioners assembled at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland to participate in the Poetics and Politics of Documentary Research Symposium. The symposium was designed to both showcase and theorize non-fiction work from the zones between poetics and politics, image and word, theory and practice. The call for papers was aimed at researchers working on art-based, documentary research projects and it welcomed a wide range of proposals and approaches. The 2013 conference provided invaluable context for a growing concern in the fields of film, media art and scholarship about documentary-based research that both troubles and reinvigorates the discrepant categories of scholarly “theory” and cultural “practice.” The second iteration of Poetics and Politics Documentary Research Symposium, which will take place May 15-17th, 2015 at the University of California Santa Cruz.
The 2015 symposium invites participants whose work frames, historicizes, or embodies questions about the various possible relations of theory to practice in documentary research. The symposium reflects a variety of approaches to documentary from a range of fields including film, video and new media, art practice, media and visual culture studies, visual anthropology and ethnography.
In recent years, post-structuralist, post-colonial and feminist thought have persuasively destabilized documentary as a fact-based, convention-bound and putatively objective social or scientific practice. We continue this critical approach by asking: what is the scope of documentary making as a political and poetic form? In line with the first iteration of this conference, we conceptualize documentary practice as encompassing multiple media and outcomes. We conceive ‘practice’ most broadly to include, without being limited to, moving image media, digital media, writing, photography, installation, performance, archiving and programming, among other forms, either as individual or hybrid practices in which more than a single medium are in dialogue. The symposium aims to provoke discussion on the scope of documentary making practices and aesthetics, to analyze and foster communities for its continuing critical practice. We aim to create innovative panels that will bring scholar-practitioners into conversation about making as thinking. Our keynote speakers are Anna Grimshaw (Emory University) and Kevin Jerome Everson (University of Virginia) who represent disparate yet interconnected approaches to documentary practice as research.
We seek proposals that explore documentary media in its current state of production, exhibition, context, culture, significance, and possibility. Of particular interest are proposals that conceptualize documentary practice as encompassing multiple media and outcomes. We especially seek proposals from documentary practitioners who conceive of their ‘practice’ most broadly to include — without being limited to — moving image media, digital media, sound, writing, programming, photography, archiving and installation among other forms, either as individual or hybrid practices in which more than a single medium are in dialogue. The symposium aims to provoke discussion on the scope of documentary practices and aesthetics, to analyze and foster communities for its continuing critical production and reception. We aim to create innovative panels that will bring scholar-practitioners into conversation about a variety of topics. This conference is an invitation to explore dialogues between creative practice and theoretical knowledge, indeed, as it imagines them to be related forms of intellectual work. Presentations are encouraged but not limited to the following inter-related categories:
What kinds of epistemologies does documentary-making provoke? In this regard, we are especially interested in conversations around works-in-progress where practitioners can speak to the contingencies that shape documentary practices. Too often documentary media is seen as an exemplar or illustrative of a theory rather than as a mode of knowledge production in and of itself. These works-in-progress panels are designed to produce discussions in to the specificity of mediated scholarship:
• What are the disparities and/or coincidences of intent/aspiration and the real world contingencies of production?
• Within the context of a specific topic or research question, how does the image function as a sign, a polemic, or a poetic?
• How do the demands of rhetoric shift or confirm the demands of a particular time-based medium?
• What are the possible dialogues, overlaps, or acts of translation that occur between theory and practice, media production and writing?
• What is the epistemological value, if any, of an open-ended, inconclusive documentary text?
• Is observation still an important or significant category for documentary media? How do we think with or outside of categories of immediacy and indexicality?
• What is the power of intangibility in relation to the documentary image?
• What kinds of aesthetics contest and emerge in a dialectical response to realist or even hyperrealist documentary practices such as reality TV or public broadcast documentary?
• What constitutes a speculative or a skeptical image?
• Can the recent turn of film theory into the field of phenomenology open new lines for redefining what constitutes documentary media? What practices shape tactile documentary? What is a non-fiction haptics? What are the values of such media interventions and how do those sit in relation with or contest traditional forms and classifications of documentary practice?
• What constitutes a political documentary practice? Is it different from a political documentary text?
• If we understand that documentary media is not necessarily limited to standard formats (feature-length film, educational documentary, web based, mixed media) then what interventions are documentary makers poised to construct in terms of documentary forms, aesthetics and knowledge? What are the relations between context and intervention?
• What are the implications of documentary authorship and the politics of representation. Given the rich histories of ethnography and the powerful interventions of, among others, postcolonial and feminist theory, what are productive and possible models for speaking for, with and nearby?
• What is the role of agency in non fiction practice? What is agency? Who or what can be agentic? In what contexts?
• What are the critical and/or aesthetic implications of producing a critical practice (which can include work across image and writing but is not limited to it)? What models do we work with and from, both historical and contemporary? What are the contexts, institutional and other, that enable or authorize this type of work?
Deadline for abstracts: January 5th, 2015
200-300 words. Please submit via the SUBMIT A PROPOSAL link.
For more information or inquiries, email: email@example.com
Conference registration fee: $45.00 (this covers your attendance at a conference dinner)”