The Tactical/Interactive:
Disturbance and Documentary as Informed by Theories of Third & Fourth Cinema

with Helen Gilbert and Stefan Schuch, 2011.

It is impossible to draw a concise, linear progression from Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino’s first call for a Third Cinema in the 1960s to yesterday’s Alternate and Accented cinema; although we argue here that they owe, even originate from those cinematic movements, it will be likewise impossible to plot the exact trajectory of tomorrow’s forms of Interactive Documentary and Tactical Media. There is a disclaimer of sorts in that statement; we do not offer an encyclopedic summation, nor a definitive timeline of the art movements discussed herein. However, it should become clear that such attempts are counter to the ideologies of the movements themselves: the encyclopedia has long been the province of the Western, white male, and a single timeline is necessarily exclusive. What we do propose to consider is some of the theoretical relationships between the revolutionary art of Third Cinema and it’s filmic offspring, which have been well considered in of themselves, as two new movements, which are elusive but have been provisionally wrangled into the categories of Tactical Media and Interactive Documentary.

Film, as a medium, has been able to present a unified spacial, temporal, cultural, and historical perspective with an immersive coherence that had not previously been seen. Moreover, a single film has been able to reach large, even massive, audiences, so to offer them a chance to experience such a perspective. “Third Cinema” was born to challenge the dominance of the cinema of first world nations, which had unmatched production & distribution resources. Mainstream, first world cinema like America’s Hollywood pressed a particular sense of time, place, and history upon third world nations, and often assumed a universality in these sensibilities. Cinema scholar Teshome Gabriel, post-colonial theorist Frantz Fanon, even the iconographic Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara recognized the power of film and the danger that Western cinema posed for subaltern cultures. They wrote Third Cinema Manifestos, calling for solidarity among Third World filmmakers and even for a unified counter-aesthetic.

Less than a decade later, critical theory began to problematize the rhetoric of Third Cinema; new artists sprouted from the Third Cinema movement and challenged its separatist view: one cannot extricate the “Third World” from the “First,” they argue, and what we should challenge is the exclusivity and homogeneity of any national cinema. Contemporary film theorist Robert Stam wrote “Beyond Third Cinema: the Aesthetics of Hybridity” to speak instead of an “Alternate” film, characterized almost by it’s resistance to being categorized, particularly to being coopted and normalized by a single movement. Hamid Naficy, film theorist and scholar of Middle Eastern film, strung a sort of theoretical support network of multi-national, exiled, or diasporic films, so particular in their subjectivity as to be strangers to one another as much as any dominant cinema. He called these films “Accented” in his 2006 essay “Situating Accented Cinema.”

Fourth Cinema, then, names itself in relation to the separatist Third Cinema to call for the recognition of cultures, particularly indigenous, that are situated within the literal space of a nation-state, but are in practice entirely marginalized from it. Filmmakers like Barry Barclay, of the Maori people indigenous to New Zealand, advocate for the self-representation of indigenous cultures through Fourth Cinema.

We have separated these movements here for some clarity, and real distinctions do exist, but any single film could own multiple classifications. Also, time is no barrier as a filmmaker can make a Third Cinema film today, or, we can look back and classify a 1980s film as belonging more to an Accented cinema than to the dominant cinema of its day.

Allow us now to introduce Interactive Documentaries, sometimes manifest as Web Documentaries. Are they films? (If films, are they cinema?) Are they digital journalism? Or perhaps games? Like the cinematic movements we just discussed, there is no one single form. Many represent issues of social justice in the tradition of the documentary, and in this they encounter the challenges put forth by Third Cinema: stop portraying non-Western subjects as an “other.” Do not impose a Western world-view, culture, or a mainstream broadcasting network on a community that does not have it’s own voice. Interactivity in a documentary works to close the gap between any “I” and any “other.” A viewer is also a participant, and must make a series of choices to step further into or back away from a story, which is often comprised of multiple personal narratives. This format encourages mutual respect for the participant and the subject; a web documentary such as David Dufresne’s Prison Valley asks participants to register and lists the ones who are active in each “room” at any point in time. Prison Valley also offers direct connections to subjects’ personal websites, which a participant may access and so interact with one of the documentary’s subjects on equal footing. There is much to explore regarding the relationship between Interactive Documentaries and the critical theory behind Third through Accented cinema. However, before we examine that more closely we have another root off of the rhizome to consider.

One could look at the arguments of alternate cinematic traditions as standing against what we now know as neoliberal politics and globalization. Tactical Media, then, is art that springs largely from within the post-industrial, neoliberal, society and addresses the ways Capitalism fails to empower even the middle class, who, though typically considered privileged, are not the Marxist bourgeois in that they do not own the means of production. “Tactical” media are often performative attempts to reveal the exploitative within the global network of Capitalism through Capitalism’s own technology. In addition, Tactical Media frequently make use of hacked consumer technologies to represent, through simulation, the inexorable hand that First World citizens have in global politics. In a sense, Tactical Media responds to the manifestos of 3rd, 4th, Alternative, or Accented cinema from within the dominant cultures those theories implicated. We might go as far as to say that in relation to Third Cinema, the disturbances of Tactical Media recall the challenge posed by Joshua Heschel-King in regards to social justice: “in a free society where terrible wrongs exist some are guilty but all are responsible.”

Interestingly, Tactical Media does not present us with a collection of its own manifestos. Perhaps because group cohesion leads to predictability and runs counter to the tactics of surprise and disruption. Titles have largely been applied from the outside, but few artists represent themselves as “tactical gizmologists,” which is just one of the categories Rita Raley provides in her 2009 book “Tactical Media.” Raley’s work helps us to form a provisional definition of what Tactical Media art might be. From there, we are able to identify artists’ pieces as such, and let the work itself inform the rest of the theory.

We go further into Tactical Gameplay and "critical game design" because as a specific form gameplay offers many possibilities, but also because it comes with a whole, new industry that is in many ways analogous to the film industry of old; the “accepted norms embedded in the gaming industry” bring about what Greig de Peuter and Nick Dyer-Witheford, both in the field of media/communications studies, call a "counter-mobilization," one which echoes the defiant emergence of Third Cinema.

First, let’s consider what makes an Interactive Documentary as such, and what experience beyond traditional cinema interactivity has to offer its audiences.

The comprehensive nature of interactive documentary suggests that its analysis must recall a broad range of influences: both a historical cinematic precedence and that of contemporary digital networks. From visual style to production techniques or audience engagement, the interactive documentary reflects the moment in time out of which it was created. The mediums chosen to represent Interactive Documentary's succinct narratives are both reflective of a long tradition in storytelling and an experimental nod to the theory surrounding open-source and open-information movements. Interactive documentaries are therefore manifested as interdisciplinary, transmedia projects; these projects employ film, digital video vignettes, photography, audio commentary, ambient sound, feats of computer programming, graphic design, journalistic copy, and voice-over commentary, to name a few. Last year, Andre Almeida and Heitor Alvelos attempted to project a definition for the future of the trend in “An Interactive Documentary Manifesto”, in which they covered the bases of linear arrangement, subject matter, interface, and navigation. The authors clearly believe that interactive documentaries are an exciting field for experimentation, in which no single project should be pigeonholed as “documentary” or "not," more successful or less. The manifesto reads, “In the last few years the word ‘documentary’ has been loosely used to describe multimedia pieces that incorporate video no matter its nature, technique, language, or scope, taking advantage of the fuzzy and fragile boundaries of the documentary definition.” These boundaries have been explored by French-German production company Arte TV, which hosts both Prison Valley and Gaza/Sderot.
Prison Valley, produced in 2010, documents the collective stories of the community that surrounds the community within; documenting the economic and social struggles that affect the small population of a Colorado prison-town who, not living behind bars, are the minority. The project interfaces with a central hub—a Flash-based representation of the Riviera Motel, from which the player may navigate pathways to “Clues: Souvineirs and Documents”, “Notebook: Contact One of the Characters”, or “Forums: Discus Live”. Visually, Prison Valley is full to the browser window with flashing buttons and pop-up text, almost to the point of overwhelming the viewer with confusion. It is certainly packed with valuable content, but to what extent will a participant remain engaged if overwhelmed with possibilities? There is no suggested route offered in Prison Valley, other than to either return to the over-arching film, or return to the Riviera Motel. This creates both pathways for inquiry, but also for random, thoughtless clicking. While Gaza/Sderot, produced earlier in 2008, does maintain the freedom to choose any number of documentary vignettes clearly presented on a single page, it does so with a graphic timeline that suggests a loose linearity. A diagonal line divides the center of the webpage into Gaza, Palestine on the left, and Sderot, Israel on the right. A simultaneity is understood through the arrangement of the co-existing video feeds, and the viewer is given the rare experience of encountering the region’s long-lasting political-social-economic-religious crisis through a powerful, yet simple, juxtaposition. It becomes the participant’s responsibility then, to different extents in both websites, to stay or stray from the chronological string of events. In this way, both Prison Valley and Gaza/Sderot have illustrated the struggle to create a product that is universally entertaining: as engrossing as surfing the web on the one hand, and as beautiful, insightful, and poetic as cinema on the other.

Third Cinema developed a filmic production style reflective of the social injustices it outed, and Interactive Documentaries depend on digital tools and applications in order to tailor a specific story to a particular participant. From the moment a user enters the URL of an interactive documentary, it is apparent that the individual’s interaction is intended to be an essential component to the functionality of the project, both practically and conceptually. Interest, therefore, stems from the experience’s flexibility. Because the venue for Interactive Documentary projects is the personal computer, the producers of such websites have paid special attention to the roll that social media possibilities might play. Other digital devices, such as "smart phone" applications, have been introduced as annexes for presenting information and maintaining the crucial all-encompassing experience. On the Prison Valley website, the user may choose a Facebook or Twitter login, or set-up a custom Prison Valley account. Once inside the simulated environment of Canon City, Colorado, the participant is often reminded of the control he or she possesses within his or her personal understanding of the experience. An individual is likely to engage the medium more fully one-on-one than from within a group, but what does this new found interactivity give us that we didn’t have before?

While cognitive activity is required while watching a film, an additional physical activity is required in order to properly interact with projects such as Prison Valley and Gaza/Sderot. The personal computer is operated by way of a keyboard, situated between two nodes of communication: the user’s brain and the digital screen. Although interactive documentaries exist in virtual space, a certain level of hand-eye athleticism is required in order to navigate through the information on screen. The required continual activation of a mouse and keyboard certainly must foster a user’s attentiveness and engagement throughout an interactive documentary experience. Now, there are possibilities for screen manipulation beyond the mouse, such as microphones, Wii and Kinect controllers, and GPS. Yet “An Interactive Documentary Manifesto” asks artists and programmers to limit the expanse of trendy gadgets unless it is absolutely necessary to the narrative at hand. Jean Baudrillard might have attributed the interaction of physical and virtual spaces observed in web-based documentaries as attempts to better fully immerse an interactor into the featured narrative. In Simulations, published in 1984, he imagines: “Here comes the time of the great culture of tactile communication, under the sign of the techno-luminous cinematic space of total spatio-dynamic theatre…it is essentially an entire ecology that is gratified on this universe of operational simulation, multistimulation, and multiresponse.” In the contemporary moment of over-stimulation and omnipresent media, it seems most appropriate for socially conscious and activist agendas to gain awareness of unfamiliar injustices through our most familiar technological mediums - but we must not let the medium surpass the message.

If a work’s medium is derivative of the message, then the resulting critically-engaged community must somehow be relevantly derivative of both. While film obviously serves as an arena for lively critical discourse, it should be reiterated that a film is screened only with the cooperation of passive behaviors from the audience throughout the extent of its feature-length. Again, web-based interactive documentaries strive to engage the viewer both mentally and physically throughout the generative duration of the story’s experience. Barry Barclay, the Fourth Cinema filmmaker we have already introduced, calls for an expansion of the social event that is a film’s reception, particularly in light of marginalized communities who seldom get a chance to represent themselves as a group to, and interact with, the dominant culture. He writes that “the word ‘cinema’ as we mostly know it implies venues and congregations of people and regular public screenings, a drama in the village square, as it were, roll up, roll up. In this respect, cinema showings are different from television showings in the home, or video tape rentals, or screenings to select audiences.” So does the Interactive Documentary, playable on a single viewer’s personal computer, abandon the social potential of a piece of art? No. We argue they are not counter to viewing as a social activity - the social activity just happens within the virtual realm instead. Forums for discussion and live chat rooms, woven with Facebook and Twitter feeds, are critical aspects to the programmed interface. These are well-known methods of communication, which are used to encourage conversation among simultaneous strangers. In the case of many web-based projects, questions literally pop up on the site’s interface at random: including choosing which video to watch next, where to navigate within the site, and instructions for chatting with other users in real-time. The user is given a voice this way, and it is clear that immediate participation is a driving force behind these projects. According to the Manifesto, one goal of interactive documentaries is to challenge the interactor and his or her beliefs in order to critically engage with a particular social issue or problem. Staying true to the medium, the creators of web-based interactive projects have embedded the act of critical engagement within the multi-media experience. This allows the viewer to uncover information from the trove of aggregated materials which compose any singular web-based documentary.

Before we stray too far from physical interaction and what particular benefits tactile simulation has to offer, we’re going to circle back to Tactical Media with two pieces in particular: Chain Reaction by Samara Smith, and You Are Not Here by Thomas Duc, Kati London, Dan Phiffer, Andrew Schneider, Ran Tao, and Mushon Zer-Aviv. Both of these pieces are constructed as games to be played in the real time and space of the city. Chain Reaction was demonstrated in New York City but could arguably be successful in any number of cities today, while You Are Not Here is specific to New York City. Both games give their players a minimal set of props and ask the participants to set out on foot to explore the city with the particular lens each game offers. In Chain Reaction, the player is given a list of “lead” and “release” objects and instructed to follow in the cardinal direction of a passing “lead” object (a corporately produced object, perhaps a Macy’s bag) and change direction only according to other passing “lead objects.” Release objects (made or sold in small or individual batches, perhaps a piece of street art or an independent record store) do just that: the player may cease his or her walking and do whatever he or she pleases until another “lead” object is spotted. Players are pulled around downtown NYC in this manner, probably to the point of fatigue, and only stop to examine things of interest when a homemade sign releases them. Statistics could be garnered on the number of corporately-owned chain stores versus independent businesses in NYC neighborhoods and such data could also be turned into 2-dimensional visualizations or moving images; what Baudrillard theorizes and what Samara Smith’s piece assumes is that a physical and mental experience will have a different or “greater” impact than a strictly mental one.

Such intentional movements through the city of course recall the dérive of the Situationist International. Like it did for the Situationists, the problem of class—and who has the freedom for such movements?—enters into socially-enacted Tactical Games. Even the Situationist rhetoric about “the city,” as though there were only one species of city in the world and each can be navigated similarly, is problematic. The Tactical Media/Game You Are Not Here considers the geographic and cultural contrasts and similarities between two different locations that the dérive ignored. It explores the ways the meaning of a space might change as its context of invisible, international relationships is revealed. “Here,” the introductory video explains, “location is a contested concept, for the two cities[New York City and Baghdad], both the subject of U.S.-Middle East hostilities, are inextricably intertwined through physical alignment in the project... linking locations and therefore histories” The artists refer to themselves as “the dislocated tourism industry,” and call You Are Not Here a “mediated experience, which maintains a human scale.” The project makes participants ask themselves what they are not seeing of the Baghdad landscape (an important building, a particular city square) as they listen to tour guide recordings in the landscape of NYC, whether the object of place is more or less important than the story being told, and whether an American tourist could ever see the actual city of Baghdad without an overlapping American perspective.

Cinema being a time based medium, the Alternative cinematic traditions we’ve been looking to have pushed the narrow conception of time that forces the “Third World” into the “First World’s” history, and which had become ingrained in the medium. Likewise, Tactical Media/Games
Robert Stam, whom we introduced with Alternate Cinema and the “Aesthetics of Hybridity,” acknowledges that spatiotemporal superimpositions have been the subject of theory before Hungry, Third, Accented, or Fourth cinema in the “widely disseminated trope of the palimpsest, the parchment on which are inscribed the layered traces of diverse moments of past writing, contains within it the idea of multiple temporalities.” He points to a litany of theory regarding the manipulation, repetition, and layering of spaces and temporalities, and notes that as a function of cultural reproduction the practice is not reserved for academics or fine artists (he gives a nod to rap music, though he maybe meant Hip-Hop), but asserts that cinema is particularly suited to temporal hybridity: “Film’s conjugation of sound and image means that each track not only represents two kinds of time, but also that they mutually inflect one another in a form of synchresis...The panoply of available cinematic techniques further multiplies these already multiple times and spaces.”

The Western world has a habit of speaking of the “third World as ‘underdeveloped,’ or ‘developing,’ as if it lived in another time zone apart from the global system of the late capitalist world. “A less neo-Darwinian stagist conception,” Robert Stam writes, “would see all the ‘worlds’ as living in the same historical moment, in mixed modes of subordination or domination.” The relationships that span the globe—including those capitalistic ones based on war and exploitation—do not exist in discrete spaces or in separate time zones, but in overlapping layers, which can be peeled back with tools like a map and recorded stories, and some time set aside to explore them. Construct of game is used to break … time & literal space.

Augmented reality games like You Are Not Here attempt to force the invisible but profound relationship between two places (Stam uses the phrase “co-implicated cultures”) onto literal time and space. Without a movie theater to compartmentalize their experience from the concrete reality of the city, perhaps viewers (participants) in such a game are less likely to leave behind any heightened awareness of these relationships that they might gain from it.

Augmented reality offers the possibility of bringing the “panoply of available cinematic techniques” for manipulating and overlaying time and space from two dimensions into three. The experience of augmented reality is not presented as “one carefully thought-out concrete whole”, but rather the pieces are given to a participant to synthesize. Games like Transition Algorithm are predicated upon the human ability to mentally stitch together overlapping spacio-temporalities with only a few cues and a simple set of instructions. In this situation the participant is asked to exercise a skill that artists traditionally rely on to create the more concrete experience of an art piece, like a film, for an audience.

The synthesis of an undetermined narrative linearity seems to clearly define interactivity, as we have returned to it again and again. It could be argued that both interactive documentaries and games are less a finished product, and more bits and pieces of information that can be strung together by the participant. This “membership” of the interactor implies that there is a level of imagination required by the audience, and possibly even a higher level of critical engagement required in order to come to a conclusion about the issue at hand. This independence allows the viewer to develop their own opinions, and to research the topic at any depth on their own accord while still being immersed in the time devoted to experiencing the project. Interactive documentaries and games, in general, ask for more than simply the viewer’s attention. This is often not the case for feature length films. Of course, duration of a piece of work comes to mind here, as well. A conventional film’s time-frame is definite, while a tactical media or documentary experience is potentially infinite. On interactivity, Almeida and Alvelos cite Graham Weinbren’s 1997 essay “The Digital Revolution is a Revolution of Random Access”, in which he states: ”If montage is at the center of cinematic meaning, and if choice is given to the interactor, then the interactive filmmaker’s task becomes that of producing a set of film materials and plotting some pathways through it. The filmmaker becomes more the designer of a pattern of trails through a landscape of images, less the tour bus driver.” In the same vein, a “filmmaker” also becomes an aggregator, archivist, and librarian. It is possible that the quantity of media collected on a particular subject is a guiding force as well, as the director of an experience is essentially building a virtual network for the participant to dig deep. Much like archaeology, a regaining and analysis of significant ephemera is required by the participant in order to gain insight about social concerns. The collections of forms of media, similar to those illustrated (sometimes in a questionable manner) in Prison Valley and Gaza/Sderot, can be said to be validated for their stylistic excesses for the sake of the experimental digital dérive. The Interactive Documentary Manifesto supports Weinbren poetically, in a manner that alludes to both pre- and post- production: “On documentary we replace the script for a notebook.”

Video games, too, are scripted. There are large production teams to write the story, design the game, program, polish, and package it just like the movies. The game industry is massive and still growing; it has out-sold the film industry in recent years. If you recognize a video game as being carefully crafted upon a script, then “mods” of a video game might reveal the “notes” that composed such a game. Modding is hacking into and altering the software of a video game; this can be a “re-skinning” of the artwork to alter aesthetic choices or it can be changes to the game mechanics, adding additional characters, etc. Modding is extremely popular and common, many serious gamers have attempted some level of game modding. A collection of such individual “mods” could be considered a peek at the “notebook” version of a game, revealing the choices of the design & production teams and offering alternate possibilities. Is there a conscious movement in this practice? Not on the whole, but on a small scale there are indeed artists and activists modifying games and acting out other forms of “counter-mobilization” against the game industry to resist certain ideologies packaged in large-scale productions.

Greig de Peuter and Nick Dyer-Witheford’s term “counter-mobilization,” (which we touched on by way of introducing a “tactical” gameplay) is, in the world of commercial game development, an effort to dismantle the classic empirical hierarchy of corporate capitalist interests whose fortunes are tied to coalitional constraints. It is a resistance to what Peuter and Dyer-Witherford call the "[e]mpire’s mobilisation of “immaterial labour”. The immaterial labour they speak of comes form a working class whose skills are cybernetic in nature. Much like third cinema at its inception, counter-mobilization of the game industry, in the most optimistic light, may well be the vanguard of change. The authors identify... "four lines of counter-mobilisation involving the immaterial subjectivities that make and play virtual games: digital piracy, autonomous production, tactical games, and simulated counter-planning."

Digital piracy is the big one for game companies because it directly affects their bottom line. As the production of software is being outsourced to countries like China, so too has Asia's black market boomed with pirated copies of the latest games. I call this 'outsourcing karma'. But most pirate sites that offer 'cracked' versions of copyright-protected software do so for free and, more than likely, they come from employees inside the studios themselves.

Autonomous production brings us back to the “notebook” vs. script example, because it refers mostly to the modification of games. What makes this autonomous is that it is free from capital and the constraints of big business. Programmers that do this usually do it out of a love for the original game. There seems to be room in this field for activism and an obvious critique of violence but I have yet to see an effective execution of a counter-mobilizing mod. More likely this is just gamers filling a need before game development does in the same way that Napster led to the evolution of iTunes.
Tactical games on the other hand are built from scratch with specific narrative agendas in mind. These are simple, mostly Flash based, activist-oriented games that use humor to engage issues of gender, neo-globalization, and war. Molleindustria is one example with a range of games that involve existentialism, oil production, and Julian Assange.

The last category of counter-mobilization, according to Peuter and Dyer-Witherford, is simulated counter-planning. This is more ground-breaking and productive than the other lines of resistance. The idea is to create models for a new society. To build a sim-style alternative to the existing socio-political structures. The process is collaborative, conceptual, and at the moment, very nebulous. AgoraXchange is setting its metrics now for what it hopes will be a virtual utopian schema.
Tactical Media often deal with symbolic systems of power that are much less definite a target than the game industry. Rita Raley points to networks of finance, technologies of war, and even the corporate conference. Or, how about the system responsible for the American Dream or the corporate cubicle-working lifestyle? To tackle such a vague and mythologized system, as with systems a layperson is generally not interested in comprehending (military technology’s relationship to consumer technology, global finance), requires special tactics. ‘Disruption’ is a word used frequently to describe Tactical Media, as are the phrases ‘guerrilla/hit-and-run tactics’ and the time frame of the “Next Five Minutes.”

And here, perhaps, is where the theories of film and those applied to Interactive Documentary and Tactical Media/Tactical Games irreconcilably split. Film production, like industry game production, is a time consuming, collaborative project that produces a product that the production team must stand behind during its public reception. Any disavowal, on the part of filmmakers, of the results of their labor would seem absurd. Interactive documentaries are not transient as Tactical Media—they remain for some definite time at a web address—but as we have already discussed they are less completed pieces of art than curated aggregators of resources on a chosen subject. Because of this, the documentary team can only be questioned about their work as a curator might—why did you choose to include this particular resource, package the show with this kind of aesthetic, or choose this title? The question, “what are you trying to say with this piece?” can really been turned around with: “well, how did you choose to navigate it?” Tactical Media artists go even further so as to say, “art piece? What art piece?” Think of the Yes Men when they are caught in the act and pinned down for questioning. It tends to go along the lines of:
“Why did you do it?”
“Do what? What are you talking about?” And then, after much squirming, “I’m just doing what those guys should be doing, that is, what is sane and logical. Can’t you see?” Who is the performer here, and who represents reality?

Or consider Franco and Eva Mattes’ piece “Colorless, Odorless, and Tasteless.” It is an old arcade-style racing video game on which they have built a genuinely noisy, exhaust-pumping engine that responds to your pedal pumping as you speed along in the video game. It’s less imaginative fabrication than a grounding (buzz-killing) dose of reality. Are the real artists the ones who have built the systems that Tactical Media critiques?

It seems a shame to conclude after such a short investigation, but if we went any steps deeper we’d find ourselves writing a book instead of an essay. We don’t want to do that, so instead we’ll close with a hypothetical progression of the filmmaker/artist from Third Cinema to the Tactical/Interactive movements we’ve discussed. Cinema has made use of well developed international networks of distribution to reach world-wide audiences, and as a result it has been closely critiqued along the lines of international politics: globalization, “First” and “Third” world relationships of exploitation and cultural homogenizing, to name a few. These critiques have led thoughtful filmmakers from Third to Fourth Cinema, Accented/Alternate Cinema and beyond to self-consciously cultivate, in the words of Edward Said, a more and more “scrupulous subjectivity.”(Said 12) This, perhaps, is what brings us to the Interactive Documentary artist-as-archivist, or Tactical Media’s artist as whistle-blower, not fabricating imaginary worlds but destroying them.

It’s also worth noting that the general trend in “user-generated content,” which businesses like Facebook and Google are built upon and, indeed, the game industry (which encourages modding and takes freely from the choicest versions) benefits from, seems likely to have influenced the viewer-as-participant ideology of interactive art. Or did the trend come from art? Anyway, is it transcendent or is it a cop-out? That is for you, reader-participant, to decide.


Almeida, Andre and Heitor Alvelos. “An Interactive Documentary Manifesto”. Third Joint Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, ICIDS 2010, Edinburgh, UK, November 2010 Proceedings. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 2010.

Barclay, Barry, "Celebrating Fourth Cinema." Illusions 35 [Winter 2003]: 7-11.

Baudrillard, Jean. Simulations. New York: Semiotext(e), 1983.

Flanagan, Mary. Critical Play: Radical Game Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2009. Print.

Peuter, Greig and Dyer-Witheford, Nick. “FCJ-024 A Playful Multitude? Mobilising and Counter-Mobilising Immaterial Game Labour”. The Fiberculture Journal, issue 5, 2005.

Raley, Rita. Tactical Media. Univ Of Minnesota, 2009. Print.

Said, Edward W. Reflections on Exile and Other Essays. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2000. “Reflections on Exile” p 12.

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