CAOS205 – Week 1: New Documentary Introduction

Lovely Andrea
Still from Lovely Andrea (2007) by Hito Steyerl

Welcome to CAOS205
In the first week we’ll go over the ins and outs of the subject – what will we be doing; how will we be doing it, and why are we doing it. The subject is New Documentary and our emphasis here will be on the ‘new’. But of course to get to grips with what ‘new’ might mean in relation to documentary we’ll need to take a look back as well.

1. Essential Details:
⁃       Subject coordinator: Lucas Ihlein
⁃       Lecturer/tutor: Peter Humble
⁃       Class structure: lecture and workshop combined into 1 x 4 hour weekly class  on Tuesdays, 8.30am – 12.30pm (review time……what about 9.30am – 1.30pm instead?)

2. Students Introduction/expectations (add to student blog page)

3. What will happen in the combined lecture/workshops?

  1. Screenings
  2. Weekly Exercises
  3. Discussions/group work
  4. Blogging
  5. Project work/Assignments
  6. Readings

…and sometimes we will have guest lectures too

4. Subject Outline/Assessment review (read through subject outline)

5. Blogs and blogging
All subject information is available at this blog. Here you’ll find workshop notes and various links to films, excerpts and readings. As you can see, a big part of the work for this subject, specifically the first 2 assignments, involves you writing and reflecting on what you see and read. You are welcome to post comments to this blog however for your main project work you’ll be required to keep a ‘process’ blog of your own.

Many of you will already have a blog you use for your studies, some of you will prefer to launch a new blog for this course specifically. Whichever way you go is fine but it must be online and publicly accessible. We will put aside some time to set this up today.

6. Readings
I will be pointing you to a number of readings throughout the course. This will be both points of discussion for us as a group and material you’ll be required to comment and reflect on as we move through the course.

What is the value of this? Media arts lecturer, Matt Wall-Smith here at UOW put it rather eloquently in another blog post. His reflections on the value of reading apply to us in this class as well. Over to you Matt……

Reading remains one of the best and easiest ways to get me out of my own head and start generating new ideas and exploring new potential. I discovered far too late in my own writing practice that the best thing to do when your are struggling or have a block is to move away and read.

Reading together amplifies this effect and one of my favourite things is to get together with a bunch of artists and theorists and read texts that we don’t really understand but which generate lots of ideas regardless – just by trying to puzzle them out.

This group is small enough and diverse enough to make this interesting and useful..much more so than me talking at you – So if I set a reading I really need you not only to read it – but to take notes – work out sections that really interest you thought were useful and bring them in ready to chat about them. Reading (and making, and research, and living) is not about ‘getting it’ but ‘getting something that you can use’ – that is – its generative…

I will not be slavishly moving through the texts step by step – there will be no comprehension test- rather – we’ll be discussing whatever elements of the text that piqued our interest. If you don’t bring the reading and your ideas it won’t work.

There is no list of prescribed texts.  Some weeks (not all) I will direct you to a reading assignment the week before a discussion.

7. Class Discussion: What is a Documentary?

8. Class Exercise:

  • Create your blog
  • email me the url

9. Screening:

Lovely Andrea (2009) by Hito Steyerl

10. Break into groups of three and consider the following questions:

  1. What do you think the film is about?
  2. How does it tell its ‘story’? What are some of the formal devices in Lovely Andrea?
  3. How does Lovely Andrea position issues of documentary truth? What does it say about the nature of documentary representation?
  4. How does Lovely Andrea work to unsettle the conventions of mainstream documentary film?

11. Next Week/Homework:

Here’s your homework to be completed by the start of class in week 2:

1. Read this article “Defining Documentary Film“, by Henrik Juel, in POV Issue 22 2006.

Here’s a PDF of the article if you want.

2. Remember your Blog! 300 words per week. Reflect on the above reading, and the material we watched. Bring your reflections and be prepared to discuss them in next weeks class.

And just to jolt your memory, here’s the Yung Jake links:

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