Documentary Practices in An Expanded Field

The concept of the expanded field, derived from Rosalind Krauss’ 1979 essay, “Sculpture
in an Expanded Field,” provides a framework for my research into the extension of
documentary practices and media into a range of different contexts. Krauss’ essay
sought to think through the challenges that artists’ practices in the 1960s and 70s posed
to traditional definitions of sculpture. Similarly, my research considers how
contemporary documentary media circulate within a variety of realms that call into
question the established coordinates of the field of documentary studies. In particular,
my work is focused on the emergence of “new” documentary forms in the gallery and
on the Internet and the political, economic, and cultural logics that ground them.

As a part of this work, I have begun research for an essay that will address the material
and economic conditions of video on the web, namely the proliferation of different
formats for video delivery and the relation between the manufacture of incompatibilities
and the momentum of technological development. My research seeks to situate these
proprietary battles, what have been called “the codec wars,” in the context of the history
of media development and standardization and to explore what they reveal about our
understanding of video as a medium.

My primary area of inquiry, however, is online documentary databases that organize
video and audio material in ways that enable the construction of “non-linear” narratives
and allow for new ways of working with documents, images, and sounds. My interest in
this arena of “web documentary” is both scholarly and practical as I am beginning to
play with software such as InterClipper, Stories Matter, and the Korsakow system in an
effort to organize and present my own video materials.