The past two decades have witnessed ever-accelerating change in the conditions of communication. Exponential growths in processing power, networked publics, and widespread access to the means of representation have enabled alternatives to the one-to-many information flows of the past. Journalism is the latest beneficiary of this ongoing change, as its digital platform gives way to new journalistic processes. But these alternatives have done more. They have enabled us to revisit the forgotten practices of the past and find precedents for that which may be yet to come. Two lectures will probe this terrain, one from the perspective of new practices (interactive and immersive documentary) that have revealed a hidden history of precedent; and one from the perspective of an established practice (journalism) that is fast taking advantage of the new media affordances.
The current boom in interactive and immersive technologies is rippling through the world of storytelling. This talk will use the example of reality-based representation – the documentary – to explore the implications of these changes for authorship, notions of the stable text, and the twin projects of showing and telling. Beyond offering new storytelling dynamics and ways of evoking presence and engagement, these techniques raise pressing questions, particularly regarding the increasing importance of algorithms in constructing the world viewed. They have also enabled us to take a fresh look at our media past, revealing a rich if suppressed history of representational endeavor, a history marked both by formal similarities and an epistemological break. This talk will use the latest trends in non-fiction representation both to tease out the challenges of the current participatory turn and to locate and disambiguate conceptually related historical precedents.
William Uricchio is Professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT, Professor of Comparative Media History at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and Principal Investigator of MIT’s Open Documentary Lab. His research considers cultural conventions for representing reality as both world and history. He writes about old media when they were new, from immersive technologies such as the panorama and stereograph to the algorithmic dynamics of narrative and image generators. Uricchio has been visiting professor in Berlin, Stockholm, Marburg, Göttingen and at multiple universities in Denmark and China. He has been awarded Guggenheim, Humboldt, and Fulbright Fellowships and the Berlin Prize.
William Uricchio's second lecture, "Digital Journalism: Transmission, Ritual, and the Re-Imagined Civic" will take place on May 26th, 5.30 at Nador u. 9., CEU's Auditorium.