This lecture series sets out to fathom the potential of the currently expanding field of documentary theory and practices.
Tackling some of the essential issues at the intersection or rather junction of 'media + ecology', 'mediatization + environment', we will think through possibilities of how emerging – often experimental – practices could contribute to ways out of dead-ends in mediatization in times of cataclysm. Revisiting different dimensions of 'ecologies of images' and 'images of ecology' (cf. Ross 1996), we critically engage with both concepts and conceptualizations of key-clusters in this complex imbroglio. Being aware that 'media' and 'mediatization', that 'the documentary' and especially doing documentary on the one hand and environment and 'the ecological' on the other hand need to be distinguished in many ways, we are nonetheless suggesting that they are deeply intermingled and mutually transformative (Chang et al. 2019, p. 3). One of the major premises hereby is the fact that 'the documentary' cannot not be reduced to being an epistemic genre; rather, it is imbued with a transformative impetus and an innate awareness of issues going alongside with politics (and poetics) of representation – and this applies even more so to documentary practices in the digital realm. Hence, we are starting from the premises that the expanding field of documentary is not formed by objects and artifacts but that it is inhabited by lively processes of mediatization/mediation (cf. Zylinska 2014; Couldry, 2008)). Thus, we dive deep into 'mesh-works' (cf. Ingold 2022) of networked media ecologies; we retrace documentary's tradition, explore documentary's diversifying present and envision documentary's future; we rethink notions of virtuality and actuality, interactivity, interaction and participation; we probe into the potential of polyphony and multi-perspectivity; we are interested in the 'more-than-…': the 'more-than-human' as well as 'the-more-than-representational'; we try to figure out how interactive documentary practices 'rewire the environment' (Chang et al. 2019, pp. 3–4) with its multifaceted notions – ranging from natural to infrastructural environments, from social and psychic environments – always questioning the implications these practices can have; we de- and re-construct the often all too vague metaphorical notions of 'ecology' in the field of media studies to apply the complex cluster with its various associations afresh in concrete ecologically oriented contexts of current environmental crises.
Or in short: we wander in the transdisciplinary landscape which opens when eco-criticism, the environmental humanities and documentary theory (and practices) meet.