Documentary Across Platforms

Documentary Across Platforms

Reverse Engineering Media, Place, and Politics
Patricia R. Zimmermann
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Format: Hardback 20 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-04346-7
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


In Documentary Across Platforms, noted scholar of film and experimental media Patricia R. Zimmermann offers a glimpse into the ever-evolving constellation of practices known as "documentary" and the way in which they investigate, engage with, and interrogate the world. Collected here for the first time are her celebrated essays and speculations about documentary, experimental, and new media published outside of traditional scholarly venues. These essays envision documentary as a complex ecology composed of different technologies, sets of practices, and specific relationships to communities, engagement, politics, and social struggles. Through the lens of reverse engineering—the concept that ideas just like objects can be disassembled to learn how they work and then rebuilt into something new and better—Zimmermann explores how numerous small-scale documentary works present strategies of intervention into existing power structures. Adaptive to their context, modular, and unfixed, the documentary practices she explores exploit both sophisticated high-end professional and consumer-grade amateur technologies, moving through different political terrains, different platforms, and different exhibition contexts. Together these essays demonstrate documentary's role as a conceptual practice to think through how the world is organized and to imagine ways that it might be reorganized with actions, communities, and ideas.

Author Bio

Patricia R. Zimmermann is Professor of Screen Studies at Ithaca College and codirector of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival. She is the author and editor of numerous titles including Reel Families: A Social History of Amateur Film; (with Scott MacDonald) The Flaherty: Decades in the Cause of Independent Film; and (with Helen De Michiel) Open Space New Media Documentary: A Toolkit for Theory and Practice.



Patricia Zimmermann has been at the forefront of the development of contemporary documentary studies. From the time of her first intervention (on the previously unremarked significance of amateur film) she has continued to make contributions noted for their scope and originality. Zimmermann has the enviable ability to always be at the cutting edge but never to be faddist.


 (Brian Winston, editor of The Documentary Film Book)

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

Foreword / Gina Marchetti

Introduction: Documentary Across Platforms

Part I: Platforms

1. Reverse Engineering: Taking Things Apart for the New Global Media Ecology

2. Ardent Spaces, Formidable Environments

3. Precious Places, Scribe Video Center, Philadelphia

4. The Hand That Holds Up All This Falling: The Works of Daniel Reeves

5. Cartographies of Impossible and Possible Worlds: The Photography of Michael Kienitz

6. Black Soil: Chernozem and Tusit in Ukraine

Part II: Reversals

7. Matrices of War

8. Blasting War

9. Digital Deployments

10. Public Domains: Engaging Iraq through Experimental Digitalities

11. Cambodian Digital Imaginary Archive: Genocide, Lara Croft, and Crafts

Part III: Histories

12. The Home Movie Archive Live

13. Throbs and Pulsations: Les LeVeque and the Digitizing of Desire

14. Just Say No: Negativland's No Business

15. Remixed and Revisited Black Cinema: Oscar Micheaux's Within Our Gates Live Project

16. Live!: Reconnecting the Histories of Live Multimedia Performance

17. Toward a Theory of Participatory New Media Documentary

Part IV: Speculative Engineering

18. Home Movie Axioms

19. Speculations on Environmental Sensualities and Eco-Documentaries

20. Speculations on Reverse Engineering: Algorithms for Recombinant Documentaries Across Platforms