• Designing a new documentary landscape: A renegotiation of documentary voice through animated collage

      Bosward, Marc; Bevan, Greg; University of Derby; University of Aberystwyth (Intellect, 2013-12)
      Documentaries represent issues and aspects of the socio-historical world. They do so through a selection and combination of audio and visual components. Inevitably, this practice makes intrinsic claims about documentary’s ability to represent the world both accurately and reliably. Facts, information, balance and reliability are the bedrock of documentary vocabulary. Comparatively few practitioners have genuinely interrogated the veracity of their craft; authenticity, evidence and objectivity remain central to the language of their practice. As the result of a mediated process, a documentary film is, at best, a crafted version of reality and its conventions are designed and developed to convince audiences of the authenticity of their particular representation of the world. Documentary’s traditional journalistic and pseudo-scientific status has hampered its development as a discursive art form capable of exploring a much broader sphere of human experience. Using a selection of still images, this article aims to contextualize, reflect on and illuminate the short, animated documentary Fforest (2009) by G. Bevan and M. Bosward. Drawing on the practice and principles of collage, the film seeks to expand the language of documentary production by deliberately undermining traditional approaches to knowledge, authority and fact. It explores potential new terrain for documentary by generating a non-realist, visual aesthetic that is not bound to traditional discourses of ‘sobriety’, whilst reaffirming the documentary as a composition which must be designed and assembled, in which authorial voice must be constructed rather than simply stated, and in which meaning is not necessarily explicit.
    • 'I Speak about Myself to You' – Renegotiating the Voice of Documentary through Animation Aesthetics

      Bosward, Marc; Bevan, Greg; University of Derby; University of Salford (The Higher Education Academy, 23/06/2011)
      Documentary practice has long been encumbered with journalistic and pseudo-scientific expectations; the gathering of evidence, the balancing of material and the objective presentation of accurate and informative data. Overwhelmingly, documentary audiences are encouraged to believe in an objective reality and, by extension, to anticipate fidelity to it. Filmmakers' aesthetic choices are selected and organised to persuade the viewer that the resulting voice of the documentary is an honest, rational and sensible point of view. This paper will explore the documentary filmmaker's detachment from an obligation to deliver objective truth by applying the visual, aural and temporal distortions of animation to interrogate conventional notions of knowledge, reliability and authority. By taking a collaborative approach to the research project, the paper will explore the inherent transformative, non-representational and illusory nature of animation in relation to the construction of authorial voice for documentary. Drawing on the theory and practice of filmmakers Aleksandr Sokurov and Alexander Kluge, the paper will assess to what extent truth can be derived from expressionistic aesthetic components as readily as they can from the narration of factual information and photographic reality; can animation in documentary assimilate fiction into fact and synthesise truth and fantasy? Further, the paper will argue that the didactic voice of traditional, expository documentary encourages passive observation while animation can provoke a more poetic interpretation of the films' diegesis; how can the authenticity of documentary material be legitimised by foregrounding authorial mediation rather than attempting to camouflage subjectivity? The introduction of animation aesthetics into documentary realism offers the filmmaker a wider choice of expressive tools to define, extend and affirm their own personal voice. This paper will offer a practical assessment of these issues, offering new approaches for filmmakers to explore the epistemological resonance of their craft, and to extend the formal and thematic parameters that determine documentary's status as nonfiction testimony.