Meeting with Jenny Weight

by stronged

I had not met Jenny before, only stumbling across her work through a random google search of participatory documentary making (i think). Then I found that she is associated with the Media Research Lab.

I dived into her free pdf online about participatory documentary, I believe composed for her Media students – a great introduction. Notes found here.

I feel two possible projects came out of our discussion:

  1. Structure a participatory documentary upon one event (eg. Nathaniel Hornblower meets Beastie Boys). Equipping several people with iphones to capture their own experience of the event (i.e. live music performance, an excursion to the zoo, going to the Queen Vic Market, etc.). I would act as facilitator and deposit the footage onto a particular platform (i.e., popcorn, etc.) for the user to interact with it. 
  2. Chart the evolving attitudes to the upcoming Federal election by interviewing people from a diverse range of backgrounds. This made me think of fellow student Ben and his project focused upon political engagement for young Australians.

I targeted a barrage of questions associated with specific concerns of mine heading into these unchartered waters. A sketch of them goes something like this:

  • What duration to aim for? She believes this is “nebulous” as online narratives can come in varying sizes. This reminded me of a MIFF panel discussion I attended that presented statistical evidence to show that most viewers of online content have a three minute concentration span. 
  • What server space/domain I could potentially use to exhibit the piece? She hand-balled me to Adrian to see whether he can rustle something up.
  • How to project manage for such a short period of time? She gave the example of her Media students who have a semester to complete a participatory (interview heavy – as this is much more achievable given the restrictions evident for talking heads) documentary in a semester. By week five she normally signs off on the project. Weeks six-eight are production. Post occurs in weeks nine-13.
  • Do I need to read up on the Creative Commons Copyright legislation, etc.? She pointed me in the direction of the website and a fella deeply wrapped up in this field by the name of Lawrence Lessig.
  • An alternative to She suggested popcorn as it allows a conversation to be established between the filmmaker and the community. You are able to link a twitter feed, facebook or particular websites to a video clip presented on a blog.
  • She also highlighted some other useful programs that may come in handy: posterous (microblogging presents a series of thumbnails for you to navigate through a blog) and slideshare (to track down published work of teachers and academics)

She reiterated the importance to me the importance of doing a test with the technology I am intending on using for my major research project. And to not be precious with the material I end up compiling.

She also raised the term Generative Media. This has got me quite excited. It expands on this notion of a piece of narrative becoming alive. A low-form of artificial intelligence.