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Field Note 6: Korsakow dynamic documentary

Field Note 6: Korsakow dynamic documentary


“Eight days a week”  (Andrew Cairns & Michael Robert McKeegan)

Late in March 2013, I spent eight days in the Colorado sunshine, mostly at the Brakhage Center, University of Colorado-Boulder. It snowed. Then the wind blew. And then it went up to 22 degrees celsius. It drizzled one day for ten minutes. And the sun shone almost every day.


Here’s the thing about running a Korsakow workshop. I learn as much as I teach. Not only did I get the chance at the Brakhage Center on March 11 to talk about how dynamic documentary was impacting my own doctoral dissertation research, I was able to work on a couple of ideas  during the week that have been percolating for the last six to eight months.



Boulder - crossroads    Boulder window & tree  Reservoir - Boulder


I’ve started to dig a little more deeply into how my project fits a digital humanities (DH) profile. I’ll talk more about process in a forthcoming field note (after all, process is crucial to the digital humanities discourse) – particularly in relation to the HASTAC conference coming up in Toronto (I’m also a HASTAC scholar). In the meantime, it’s been interesting to chew on vision statements related to the DH.

Nocturne Halifax

Nocturne Halifax website (c) Nocturne

I particularly enjoyed sharing the DH Manifesto 2.0 with the students in my Media, Culture, Society graduate course: they seemed to quite like the multi-modal possibilities embedded in it, especially once I related it to second-screen tv-watching habits, all-night art events, and inter-urban collaborative art projects  (among others). 

Personally, I rather like the optimistic embrace of the interdisciplinary in scholarly work, and of the multi-medial in artistic practice … and the potential that this combination suggests. See, for example, Patrik Svensson’s most recent article on the DH vision (2012).

Eric at work on Jennifer Reeder's installation

At work on Jennifer Reeder’s installation

Film Tree at play - Brakhage Center

Film tree at play

Vasulka clip - Brakhage Center Symposium

Vasulka clip

And then I got to spend the weekend enjoying the work of several experimental film and media artists at the Brakhage Center Symposium. Talking about digital humanities. Meeting people like Glenn Phillips, from the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Media arts. Visual culture. Just before the week drew to a close, I heard from  Hexagram | CIAM that I’m to be the lucky recipient of one of their first-ever Internationalization Grants. Not least for the trip to Boulder. Woo-hoo!

Hexagram | CIAM logo


Mél Hogan and I are working on a reflection for the Korsakow blog that proposes to build a series of short modules to assist with K-workshops. Matt Soar has a comprehensive keynote that goes through several key tips and tricks. It’s all good, and because Matt put it together, it’s pretty sharp-looking too. But it’s too much in one shot. Pretty much anyone who has experienced it is already making something by the time you get through it (Matt’s the first to say so!). So – we thought – why not break it up into segments? Once you kind-of-get the very high-level concept and the in-out pathways, then you can look at the backend of a K-film, and it’s time to try one. After that, start going back into the tips & tricks, instructions, examples, etc. Can’t wait to work on it more formally.

      View from the window  Working in the k-workshop  early morning sustenance

I have to admit. Mél and I did take a day to go to Denver, check out a couple of neighbourhoods, see some art at the Denver Contemporary Art Museum & sit in the, umm, sun.. but the rest of the time, we worked!

Denver signage near the light rail stop  Denver Museum of Contemporary Art  Seeds building in Denver

And then I realized – on my way back from Boulder – why wait? I’d agreed to give a talk about non-linear documentary and crowdfunding to Sylvia Hamilton‘s tv documentary class at University of King’s College in Halifax. I was asked to speak for about an hour or so, and engage in a discussion. So, I managed to pull together an introductory presentation on both topics, including a brief run-through of what Korsakow can do. It was great fun. The brevity worked a treat. So much more to come…


The Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0. (2009). California: UCLA. Retrieved from

Evolumedia Group. (2013). The Second Screen and Television, Benefits and Impacts. Montreal: Evolumedia and Canada Media Fund, with funding support from SODEC. Retrieved from

Svensson, Patrik. (2012). “Envisioning the Digital Humanities”. DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly. Vol. 9, No. 1.

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