Documenting Complexity: where documentary meets activism and technological innovation
2019 - 2020
Completed research
Documenting Complexity: op het snijvlak van documentaire, activisme en technologische innovatie

Together with the University of Groningen, The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, MU, Worm and VersPers, J-Lab is studying how documentary makers use innovative technologies to do justice to the complexity of social issues. Documentary filmmakers are crucial creative actors in social research, especially when they have activist motives. These days, filmmakers can use all kinds of new technologies, varying from virtual and augmented reality to drones, action cams and 24/7 livestreams. What is the impact of these types of innovative technologies on the artistic and activist ideas and strategies of documentary makers?

To answer that question, we look into the objectives, motivations and daily work of producers that are front runners when it comes to use of innovative technologies. For that purpose, we use interviews and visual elicitation, a method that analyses drawings of the interviewees. We also perform participating observations during events and during the production process of a documentary that highlights social issues and leverages innovative technologies. This helps us gain bottom-up insight into the considerations and decisions of producers and into the way they deal with ethical issues.

Dit project heeft geresulteerd in een interactieve website voor beginnende documentaire makers:

Ook dat kan met documentaire: Deel 1
Ook dat kan met documentaire: Deel 2
Ook dat kan met documentaire: Deel 3


Yael de Haan
Nele Goutier

About Journalismlab

Research group Journalism in Digital Transition of the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht

Het lectoraat Kwaliteitsjournalistiek in Digitale Transitie (JournalismLab) doet aan de hand van diverse thema’s praktijkgericht onderzoek. Hierbij kijken we naar de wederkerigheid tussen drie journalistieke processen: productie, inhoud en effect.

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