Interactive Documentary: Laboratory & Experiment – Program

Interested researchers and students are welcome. 
Participation is free of charge after registration at email hidden; JavaScript is required by January 29, 2024.

Download the program overview here


10:00 – 10:30

Welcome & Introduction
Jacqueline Holzer (Dean of the Lucerne School of Art and Design)

10:30 – 12:00

12:00 – 13:00


14:30 – 14:45

Coffee Break

16:15 – 16:45

Coffee Break

16:45 – 17:30

Daniel Fetzner (University of Applied Sciences Offenburg)
Becoming River/Flotsam entanglements


10:00 – 12:15

The keynote by Ute Holl unfortunately had to be cancelled.

City Tour through Lucerne

Meeting point is at 10 a.m. in front of the Hotel Drei Könige (Klosterstrasse 10, 6003 Lucerne)

12:15 – 13:15


14:45 – 15:00

Coffee Break

15:00 – 16:30

Philippe Bédard (McGill University)
Speak your mind: Talking about AI, with AI

Florian Mundhenke (Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuernberg)
Interactivity, experience, and experimental performance in Documentary VR

16:30 – 17:00

Wrap Up

17:30 – 18:45

Alena Činčerová (Prague)
Kinoautomat, Radúz Činčera, CZ 1967

in the Cinema REX

Introduction by Anita Hugi (HEAD Genève)

Bios & Abstracts

William Uricchio (Utrecht University/MIT)

The ethics of emergence: the nature of trust in today’s interactive, immersive and generative media 

Integrity, trust, and ethics are central to the representational projects of journalism and documentary, although in quite different ways, and codified in institutional norms. But are these inherited notions adequate for emergent and experimental media? The buzz that attends interactive, immersive and generative media forms includes claims for new ways of knowing (embodied knowledge), for user agency (non-linear navigation; user contribution), for engaging affect (‘VR as empathy machine’), for epistemological uncertainty (DeepFakes), and even surveillance (data tracking).  As is evident from the larger mediascape, these and other issues pose ethical challenges that go well beyond documentary, and the presentation will consider their implications for research-creation across emergent media‘s techno-cultural ensembles. 

William Uricchio is professor emeritus of Comparative Media Studies at MIT where he founded and led the MIT Open Documentary Lab and was PI of the Co-Creation Studio. He is also professor emeritus of Comparative Media History at Utrecht University. His work explores the frontiers of new media, at times using a historical lens and at times by working with interactive and algorithmically generated media forms (interactive documentaries and games in particular). Uricchio has received numerous awards for his work including Guggenheim, Humboldt and Fulbright research fellowships, the Berlin Prize, and the Merkator fellowship. His most recent book, co-authored with Katerina Cizek, is Collective Wisdom: Co-Creating Media for Equity and Justice (MIT Press).

Thomas Weber (University of Hamburg)

Transformative-documentary research in a teaching experiment

The contribution reports on the interim results of a teaching experiment in the frame of a teaching research project at the University of Hamburg. Based on an analysis of interactive documentaries (web-documentaries and open space documentaries) and the complex knowledge ecology of i-docs in participatory organized projects, a transformative-documentary research approach assumes that people become aware of their problems through a consciously designed, media-supported communication process and find their own ways to solve their problems through mutual support. We started with the stakeholders whose goal was to achieve the transformation of social (cultural or political) conditions in order to organize the development of an empowering media communication process. In the experiment the students applied the method of transformative-documentary research to different topics: The first subproject was about nano-loans for needy people in a social troublespot district of Berlin. The second subproject dealt with a memorial path that uses new digital media (VR/AR, i-docs) to shift attention from the Valentin high bunker near Bremen – the largest construction project of the Third Reich – to the victims of this military megalomania, the prisoners of war, whose camps are now barely visible in the landscape. The third subproject was about artists and authors who lost contact with their audience during the pandemic. In the presentation I will report not only on successes but also on the problems and challenges we were confronted with in the teaching experiments. In addition to the reflective and participative handling of the technology (means also the montage, the design etc.) concerning an appropriate affordance, a changed understanding of roles and the resulting enrollment of students, teachers and non-university project partners was probably the greatest challenge.

Thomas Weber is Professor for media studies at the University of Hamburg. He was one of the leaders of the DFG-project “History of the german documentary film after 1945” and leads several other projects in the field of documentary film (see  His books include: Webdokumentationen 2021; Medienkulturen des Dokumentarischen 2017 (ed. with Carsten Heinze); Mediale Transformationen des Holocausts 2013 (ed. with Ursula von Keitz); “Documentary Film in Media Transformation”, InterDisciplines – Journal of History and Sociology. Vol 4, No 1 (2013). Further information see

Jasmin Kermanchi (University of Hamburg)

From taking part to having part? Socially engaged interactive documentaries as experiments

Socially engaged documentary projects that promise socio-cultural participation in digital media cultures can be understood as experiments: they try to promote the emancipation and participation of those affected by social problems with the affordances of interactive media and interventionist practices. Whether this experiment can succeed depends on the specific interplay of human and non-human actors in the experiment. This contribution asks under which conditions medial participation (taking part) in interactive documentaries promotes cultural participation, democratic participation in public, and participation in a (virtual) community (being/having a part). What influence do the institutional contexts, economic conditions and aesthetic strategies as part of the experimental arrangement have on the possibilities of participation? For this purpose, the presentation introduces a meta-theoretical conception based on various discourses of the concepts of interactivity and participation (media-cultural, democratic-theoretical, art-historical, and philosophical approaches – e.g. Claire Bishop, Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière, Jean-Luc Nancy). The meta-theoretical conception describes the relationship between interactivity and participation and differentiates between various forms of ‘being/having a part’ and how they are fostered. This is applied to concrete examples of social-issue interactive documentaries on the web (e.g. Dadaab Stories, The G Word) by combining material and praxeological analyses. They show that access to interactive technology alone does not guarantee the ‘success’ of the experiments (meaning to promote a form of participation), but that a reflected handling of the technologies is necessary. Moreover, it is crucial how the concrete practices of the involved actors, such as the practices of co-creation, are organized.

Jasmin Kermanchi is a research assistant and doctoral student at the Institute of Media and Communication at the University of Hamburg, where she is working on a dissertation about social-issue i-docs. In 2020, she also worked as a research assistant in the teaching lab project “Online Course Documentary Film in Digital Transfer” (translated) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Main research interests: new documentary forms, theory of documentary film and theories of participation.

Frédéric Dubois (ifs Cologne)

Web-based documentary’s legacy? The sandbox mindset

Web-based documentary has known its „âge d’or“ around 2013 (Dubois, 2021). In the decade that followed, it has steadily declined to become a marginal practice overshadowed by virtual reality and augmented reality documentary and its ever-resilient linear cousins in TV and big screen documentary. The legacy it has had can best be seen in how institutions such as interactive media training schools, production companies, and distribution outfits such as festivals have opened-up to the „experimental character“, which I like to refer to as the sandbox mindset.
More specifically, schools have multiplied laboratories (cf. MIT Open Documentary Lab, Södertörn University’s PlayLab, Film University Babelsberg’s OmniLab) — enabling a production culture rooted in a research-creation approach, detached from quantitative impact contingencies. Producers have created entire new units (e.g., BBC R&D, NFB Interactive, Interactive Media Foundation), at least initially oriented towards prototypical work, celebrating work-in-progress over final works. Festivals started floating experimental sections (Visions du réel’s id w, DOK Leipzig’s NetLab and Hackathon, IDFA DocLab) with at their core interdisciplinary creation workshops and hands-on project development.
My argument goes that the most sustainable footprint of the web-based documentary momentum is not its manyfold multivocal and interdisciplinary projects, which more often then not have succumbed to the post-Flash-technology era (see Fournier, 2023 for an account of selective archiving of web-based documentaries), but a larger and re-awakened acceptance of documentary-making as a practice of experimentation.
Even though phenomena is rarely single-causal, the emergence of the sandbox mindset concurs with the heyday of web-based documentary and its associated production methods (i.e., co- creation, design thinking, agile production), most of which can be traced back even further to computer-assisted innovations in a variety of fields, such as game design (Nash, 2017).
In this paper, I reflect upon my personal journey facilitating and implementing the sandbox mindset in selected settings associated to interactive documentary development, production and distribution in Canada and Europe over 15 years. I synthesise my main learnings, one of which is that the successful leveraging of the sandbox mindset is not correlated significantly with available resources, but rather with the level of risk-taking guided by a conscious rejection / active management of impact expectations. In only a minority of observable settings though, was it possible to anchor a long-term sandbox mindset at the institutional level. The papers explains why.

Dubois, F. (2021). Interactive Documentary Production and Societal Impact: The Case of Field Trip (Doctoral dissertation, Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf).
Fournier, J. (2023) “Archive NFB’s Web Interactive Works”, Doing Documentary conference, Lucerne, 17-18.03.2023
Nash, K. (2017). i-Docs and the documentary tradition: exploring questions of engagement. In i-Docs: The evolving practices of interactive documentary (pp. 9-25). Columbia University Press.

Frédéric Dubois is a Canadian-German author, producer, journalist, and scholar of digital media. He has co-authored and produced award-winning interactive storytelling features such as »Atterwasch« (2014) and »Field Trip« (2019) and co-edited two books: the collection of essays »Autonomous Media« (2005) and graphic novel »Extraction! Comix Reportage« (2007). Frédéric has worked with the National Film Board of Canada and ARTE on digital projects such as »GDP« (web coordinator, 2009), »The Hole Story Interactive« (author, 2011) and »Fort McMoney« (game master and partnerships, 2013).
He has travelled a number of countries as a freelance reporter, telling stories of communities affected by resource-intensive industries (e.g., fisheries, mining). He has further specialized his journalistic practice on internet- and data-related topics, working with nonprofits such as the Association for Progressive Communications and the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG). He is Professor of Digital Narratives – Theory at the ifs Internationale Filmschule Köln since 2021. He is the managing editor of the open access journal Internet Policy Review since 2012. 

Martin Bonnard (McGill University)

Making a research-creation web documentary, a material and collective experiment

This presentation stems from a research-creation project I’m currently co-directing with two historians. We are producing a web documentary about old age institutionalization. Like in many other countries, the Covid-19 pandemic struck very hard in Canada, but it got particularly catastrophic in the retirement homes of the province of Quebec. It started a public debate around the living conditions in these institutions. When Professor Aline Charles approached our lab, she had been studying a very old practice that saw elderly women gain admission into religious institutions in exchange for all their belongings. Keenly interested by the subject and its ability to resonate within the current debate, we decided to develop a web documentary project around it.
The first part of my talk will address our “process of discovery” following a method aptly named by Elizabeth Miller (Bonnard and Paci 2023). By trying to locate the different parts of the project (humans, technologies, archival documents, processes) our work extends the legacy interactive documentaries share with creative documentary films (Nash 2022). I will describe our writing process, the way we are constantly questioning the final form of the
project and searching for the right tools to achieve our goal. Inspired by the work of the late Adrian Miles (2017), I will underline the materiality of the tools and the media artefacts put together by our project and how we are trying to foster their interconnectedness. Here, the discovery of the project’s pieces depends on their experimental arrangement, on the relationships that are built between them. Many questions arise from this interconnectedness: How the materiality of an archival document can open a reflexive aside for the viewers, for instance. What amount of storytelling do we need to keep our audience engaged?
In the second part of my talk, I will elaborate on the “act of making” (Chapman and Sawchuk 2015 : 50) and our approach to research-creation. We work collaboratively and try to avoid overspecialization by having every member of the project do different tasks, from scriptwriting to experimenting with simple animation techniques for the web or integrating the content in the no-code web platform PandaSuite. I will finally argue that this method, borrowed in part from the Kino movement, gives all members of the group an opportunity to play a slightly different role, such as storyteller, designer or even director and eases issues raised by the interdisciplinarity nature of the project.

Martin Bonnard is an FRQSC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University and an adjunct professor at UQAM’s School of Media. His doctoral thesis in communication (UQAM) deals with the actualization of the cinema experience by cinephile SVOD catalogs. He is co-directing a research project on documentary film mediation and circulation online (CRSH, 2023-2024) and a research creation web documentary that aims to shed light on a secular practice of caring for elderly women (FRQ, CRSH, RéQEF, 2022-2024).

Recent publication include: “Techniques and tactics of the web documentary (with Viva Paci, eds, TECHNES 2023), « Webdocumentaire et enjeux historiographiques » (with Rémy Besson, eds, special issue of the journal Conserveries mémorielles, forthcoming) and “(Re)monter le cinéma sur le web” (Cinémas journal, 2018). He also created the web desing of two webdocs : Sur les soins (2020) and Les infirmières de la folie (2022)

Bonnard, Martin and Viva Paci. « La scénarisation transmédiale en documentaire », in « Techniques et technologies de la scénarisation », Olivier Asselin and Isabelle Raynauld (eds), Encyclopedia of Film Technics and Technologies (TECHNES), 2023.
Nash, Kate. Interactive documentary: theory and debate. New York: Routledge, 2022.
Miles, Adrian. A murmuration is not a story. The material turn and interactive documentary: A panel, 2017, p. 6-23.
Chapman, Owen and Kim Sawchuk. « Creation-as-Research: Critical Making in Complex Environments ». RACAR: revue d’art canadienne / Canadian Art Review, vol. 40, no 1, 2015, p. 49-52.

Daniel Fetzner (University of Applied Sciences Offenburg)

Becoming River/Flotsam entanglements

Time and its players urge us to finally arrive in modernity. In July 2021, massive flooding takes 135 lives in the Ahr Valley. The meteorological forecast of the German weather service had actually calculated the Murg Valley in the Black Forest as the place of precipitation. The weather decided another way and the rescue workers were prepared 150km south in Baden-Baden. The catastrophe broke out. In order to understand the effects of climate change and its authorships, such as the effectiveness of weather, wind and water, and to investigate human and economic resilience, our research “Clim’ability Care” explores the relationship between various actors in the Murg Valley. With the help of a floating camera probe made of flotsam from the river, the flow of the river determines the narrative of a web-based documentary. The authorship of the river is in tension with that of industry, residents and energy supply. Factory canals, sewage discharges and barriers draw the approaches of the artistic research work into neuralgic points. In a balanced relationship of floating and being flushed, the filmic assemblage meanders through the critical zone of the river bed of the Murg, on which international paper factories, car manufacturers, power stations and one hundred and
thirty-five thousand residents depend.
The gained material, which is oriented both graphically and cinematically on the river, links private, public and economic perspectives with the speculative powers of nature. Within an interactive audio-visual performance, the audience can get to the bottom of these interdependent relationships and will become part of this diffractive ethnographic stroll. In this experimental swimming test, the experience of an interaction with the real changeable facets of river being (drought and low water, heavy rain and high water) is to be made possible. For this purpose, sensory-experimental camera perspectives are intermingled with interactive, web-based applicability. The fluid montage that the user can conduct herself, includes classical narrative formats of various lengths as well as live audio-visualization, which enables an intuitive or knowledge-driven assemblage. We encourage thereby an interventionist gaze.

The talk in Luzern will reflect a first 20min live assemblage that will be performed at Kommunales Kino Freiburg on December 7, 2023. Improvised montages with Touch Designer by film maker Adrian Schwartz are combined with sensory ethnographic sounds by the electronic musician Ephraim Wegner.

Daniel Fetzner (*1966) holds a professorship for artistic research at Offenburg University. He is teaching media design, ethics and film and is head of the Laboratory for Media Ecology. Fetzner had visiting professorships at the San Francisco State University (2007), the German University in Cairo (2009-11) and at the Srishti Insitute of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore (2012). He was repeatedly visiting artist at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore (2014/2018) and at the Centre for Art and Media ZKM in Karlsruhe (2007/2021).

Fetzner is founding member of the artistic research group mbody in the fields of media, somatics, dance and philosophy. In his long-standing research cycles INTERCORPOREAL SPLITS (2009-2013) and DE\GLOBALIZE (2014 – ongoing), he is utilising situationist procedures and interactive film both as a method and as a tool for interdisciplinary media explorations. His artistic exploration can be understood as a speculative search for the terrestrial in the sense of the French philosopher Bruno Latour, with whom Fetzner collaborated for the exhibition “Critical Zone” (2020-23) at the ZKM Karlsruhe.

Ute Holl (University of Basel)

The Self, the Other and Complexities of Interaction: Forms of Distributing Positions, Points of View and Powerrelations in Documentary Films.

Unfortunately Ute Holl had to cancel her participation and keynote.

Ute Holl is professor for media studies at the University of Basel. Her research focusses on history, perception and epistemology of audiovisual media, the sonic archive, acoustics and electroacoustics and experimental as well as documentary cinema. Her research projects include: «Nachbilder von Revolution und Krieg. Trauma- und Memoryscapes im postrevolutionären iranischen Kino», «Radiophonic cultures, Sonic environments in hybrid media systems». She is co-researcher in the SNF project «Interaktiver Dokumentarfilm». Currently, she is PI in the project collaborating with with South African universities: «The (In)audible Past».

Publications include: Cinema, Trance and Cybernetics, Amsterdam 2017; The Moses-Complex. Freud, Schoenberg, Straub/Huillet, Zürich 2016; (as editor): Suchbilder. Visuelle Kultur zwischen Algorithmen und Archiven, (co-ed. Ernst, Wolfgang, Stefan Heidenreich, Berlin 2003. Memoryscapes. Filmformen der Erinnerung, Zürich 2014 (co-ed Matthias Wittmann), Radiophonic Cultures. Volume I, Heidelberg, Berlin: Kehrer 2018 and Volume II, (in print); Recent films: Die Amitié, Regie: Holl und Ott, D 2022.

Cornelia Lund (University of the Arts Bremen)

Moving through the Documentary. Bodily and Virtual Movement in Relation to Interactive Documentaries

In web-based interactive documentaries, movement or bodily interaction is typically defined by a certain set of limited actions related to direct interaction with the computer. This paper asks what happens if the documentary leaves this setting to propose dispositifs calling for more interactive “exercise.” Recent years have seen discussion and experimentation on performativity and the role of bodily presence in interactive documentaries from various perspectives (e.g. Aston 2017, Nelson 2022).
This paper aims to explore a previously understudied aspect, namely the implications of installation settings where interaction involves movement to connect and activate different parts of the documentary. To achieve this goal, the analysis will examine examples proposing various instances of interactive movement that literally lead through the documentary. These examples include theatrical settings (e.g. Rimini Protokoll or Volumenexpress Kompanie), exhibition dispositifs (e.g. Eine Einstellung zur Arbeit (2015) by Farocki/Ehmann), and virtual experiences such as the Subterranean Imprint Archive (2021) by Lo-Def Film Factory. The analysis suggests exploring these examples as experimental settings from an interactive documentary perspective. In this sense, it will examine in what ways these settings experiment with and affect the defining parameters of interactive documentary. How does the interaction change in these settings? How are features such as collaboration and polyvocality orchestrated? And how is montage renegotiated when (bodily) movements define the selection and combination of images and sounds?

Aston, Judith (2017). “Interactive documentary and live performance: from embodied to emplaced
interaction.” Aston, Judith; Gaudenzi, Sandra; Rose, Mandy (eds.). i-docs. The Evolving Practices of
Interactive Documentary. London and New York: Wallflower Press, 222–236.
Nelson, Kim (2022). “The historian is present. Live interactive documentary as collaborative history.”
Rethinking History. The Journal of Theory and Practice, 26:3, 289–318. DOI:

Cornelia Lund, Dr. phil., Research Fellow at University of the Arts Bremen and curator. 2019/18 co-curator for Connecting Afro Futures. Fashion x Hair x Design (Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin); 2012 to 2018, Senior Research Fellow in the project “The History of German Documentary Cinema 1945–2005” at Universität Hamburg. Since 2004, co-director of fluctuating images (Berlin), an independent platform for media art and design. Fields of research: documentary film and practices, audiovisual artistic practices, design theory, de- and postcolonial theories.
More info:

Rob Eagle (University of Leeds)

Making meaning through the body: Understanding interactive documentary audiences in physical and social context

‘Put on your headphones’. ‘Press the space bar to continue’. ‘Speak into the microphone’. These are some of the commands audiences might have when engaging with an interactive documentary. In our focus on content and digital interfaces, scholars in this field tend to forget how important physical and social context is for the experiencing interactive documentary. Material on a screen is not consumed in a disembodied vacuum; the background of the audience, the physical environment, the type of device, ease of interaction design and layout all impact how audiences engage with interactive documentary and make meaning in the work.
This paper will take three examples of recent projects that illustrate how audiences use their bodies to impact pace and narrative and make meaning between the content onscreen and their own embodied knowledge of the world:
1) Ravi and Emma makes use of a webcam and gesture recognition software to take the audience through a love story of a couple in Australia learning to communicate with each other through sign language.
2) In Antipsychotic the audience uses a joystick to navigate their way through a surreal visual world with a complex sound design and fragments of spoken word that reflect on mental ill-health.
3) The author’s own current work-in-progress, fashionably slow, examines a movement of sustainable fashion designers in China through video, audio and social media excerpts in an interactive interface that prompts the audience to draw connections between their choice of clothing and their impact on the planet.
All three examples remind us to consider the role the body – in the context of their physical surroundings, digital device and more – for the audience member in constructing meaning in an interactive documentary. This paper draws on the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty, the work of Paul Dourish and concept of ‘emplaced interaction’ from interactive documentary scholar Judith Aston in reasserting the importance of the body as a key ‘technology’ in interactive documentary.

Dr Rob Eagle is a lecturer, researcher and artist, working across performance, film and interactive and immersive media. Rob is currently a Teaching Fellow in Cultural and Creative Industries at the University of Leeds. Previously, they were a Research Fellow with the British Film Institute and XR Stories (University of York) and lecturer in virtual and extended realities at the University of the West of England. Their practice-led PhD in the Digital Cultures Research Centre at UWE focused on the use of headset augmented reality for interactive documentary.
Rob’s recent practice has included an interactive augmented reality installation, Through the Wardrobe, which toured internationally 2019-22, and two residencies with National Dance Company Wales (2020) and Light Moves Festival (Limerick, Ireland, 2021). Rob has also recently been commissioned to create a large-scale generative light and music installation for the 2023 BD:is Lit, the Bradford light festival. (

Philippe Bédard (McGill University)

Speak your mind: Talking about AI, with AI

Recent scholarship on non-fiction VR has highlighted the potential problem of VR’s egocentric (even self-centred) nature (see Nash 2018; Eitzen 2021). But what if the aim of a non-fiction VR experience were meant precisely to help users reflect on their own experiences and biases?
This presentation centres on a case study of CHOM5KY vs CHOMSKY (Sandra Rodriguez, 2022), a recent immersive and interactive documentary experience from the National Film Board of Canada. In this 25-minute experience, four users are offered the chance to talk with CHOM5KY , a conversational agent that was trained using artificial intelligence (AI) on the
digital traces of Professor Noam Chomsky. While the production of this project did require a monumental amount of archival work (going back through the official Chomsky archives at MIT and parsing through the mountain of data on, the end-product also includes large amounts of scripted dialogue and, more importantly, AI-generated content. All three sources (archival, scripted, generated) are presented on an equal footing in the experience, and all are spoken through a voice synthesized to sound like that of the flesh-and-blood Chomsky. In so doing, and by choosing to structure the experience as a dialogue about, with, and through AI, CHOM5KY vs CHOMSKY challenges both traditional definitions of documentary and mor recent critiques of VR’s self-centred nature.
By carefully describing the production process of CHOM5KY vs CHOMSKY and by analysing the experience it offers to users, my goal in this presentation is to suggest that it is possible to create interactive non-fiction experiences that benefit from VR’s user-centred nature. Specifically, I want to suggest that this experience serves as a unique showcase of VR’s ability to bring users to reflect on their own actions and interactions with others—even when this other is an AI entity.

Bédard, Philippe. 2023. “How does CHOM5KY vs CHOMSKY work?” NFB Blog (September 8, 2023),
Eitzen, Dirk. 2021. “The Problems and Potentials of VR for Documentary Storytelling,” Cinergie 19, p. 43-55.
Larsen, Mads. 2018. “Virtual Sidekick: Second-Person POV in Narrative VR,” Journal of Screenwriting 9, n°1, p. 73-83.
Nash, Kate. 2018. “Virtual Reality Witness: Exploring the Ethics of Mediated Presence,” Studies in Documentary Film 12, n°2, p. 119-131.

Philippe Bédard, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher currently working on the design of VR exhibits, specifically those which ask viewers to put themselves in the shoes of a character. Along with Alanna Thain and Carl Therrien, he is the co-editor of the forthcoming volume States of Immersion: Bodies, Media, Technology (AUP , 2024).

Florian Mundhenke (Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuernberg)

Interactivity, experience, and experimental performane in Documentary VR

Documentary VR is one of the most interesting evolving fields of immersive cultural practice. Most projects tell stories that have a relation to reality and allow the protagonists to enter real-life narratives. There are two main categories to achieve this empathy: First, I can let the protagonist become part of the story and let him/her participate in the narrative from the perspective of the experiencer. Second, it is also possible to suggest participation (or even collaboration with others) involving an action structure via low-threshold interaction.
From a comparative perspective with the web-based interactive documentary, the talk would like to ask what makes the VR documentary an experiment and how it differs from other forms. First, it should be noted that the VR documentary, due to its situational, momentary and short nature, corresponds much more to the character of the experiment than this is usually the case in long artistic documentary films. Most of the time the protagonist is the one who is being experimented with and who can try things out or who is used to exemplify something. The documentary often asks questions like “What if…” and “How would I behave?” or “What options do I have?”. As the interactive story unfolds, one develops empathy for the actors shown, but ethical questions are also touched upon, as the examples involve topics such as refuge, environmental catastrophes, or personal fates. The talk would like to touch on and attempt to answer the following questions: How do VR Docs differ from Web Docs? How is the experimental character offered to the protagonist/participant and how does he become involved? Which actants (human/non-human) do the user encounter in selected examples? And: How do the different versions of the short performances (flexibility, heterogeneity) become noticeable?

Nash, K. “Virtually Real: Exploring VR Documentary.” Studies in Documentary Film 12, no. 2 (2018): 97–100.
Slater, M., Sanchez-Vives, M. V., Rizzo, A., Bergamasco, M., eds. (2019). The Impact of Virtual and Augmented Reality on Individuals and Society. Lausanne: Frontiers Media.
Weidle, Franziska. “How to reconcile that flinch: Towards a critical analysis of documentary situations in 360° and VR environments.” Participations, Volume 15, Issue 1 (2018): 412–426.

Florian Mundhenke, PD Dr. phil. habil., since 2023 Temporary Professor for Media Studies (W3) at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuernberg, before Associate Professor for Cultural and Media Studies (DAAD) atthe Institute for Modern Languages and Cultural Studies at University of Alberta in Edmonton/Canada. 2018-2020 Temporary Professor for Media Studies and Media Culture at University of Leipzig and Senior Lecturer atthe Institute for Media and Communication (IMK) at University of Hamburg. He was speaker of the DFG-fundedresearch network “Cinema as an experience space”. PhD dissertation on the phenomenon of chance in film in2008 (Marburg: Schueren). A second book (Habilitation) on hybrid forms between documentary and fictional filmin 2016 (Wiesbaden: Springer VS). Fields of research include documentary film, genre film, Virtual andAugmented Reality, cultural and social questions of media, contemporary media theory, narration and aestheticsof world cinema, media art. email hidden; JavaScript is required

Alena Činčerová (Prague)

tba (Performance Kinoautomat)