A collage of images from the DocX lab

The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) has always been a laboratory of sorts—a place where people gather to learn, produce, and present the documentary arts in many styles and perspectives across all mediums. Our DocX initiative—an innovative space to experiment with the evolving ways that documentary artists tell stories in the digital era—is meant to expand on that foundation.

With DocX, we’re developing and sharing multiple approaches to storytelling. We bring together journalists, designers, editors and curators, and other professionals working in photography, film, video, writing, audio, experimental and new media to engage both analog and digital technologies as we explore aspects of exchange and process in the making of documentary work—reciprocity, relationship, representation, transparency—and how those dynamics influence a story and its impact.

The early days of DocX have been focused on creating interactive digital platforms and tools that explore what documentary is and does, including the ways in which the documentary arts and journalism intersect:

  • CDS Shortwave: DocX is developing a new experimental website as part of our investment in creating new storytelling tools. Launching in fall 2018, CDS Shortwave showcases works from CDS’s present and past on a digital platform inspired and informed by analog technology.                                                                  
  • Susan E. Tifft Initiative on Documentary and Journalism: DocX is also concerned with creating relationships and unlocking potential for intersections across the documentary arts and journalism, as both fields evolve in the digital era. The Tifft Initiative includes the Susan Tifft Fellows program.

The X in DocX is a variable: Future projects will evolve as the practice of documentary itself evolves and as new possibilities emerge in the creation of narrative forms. The spirit of DocX remains a constant, though, driven by what documentary artists need to make their work most resonant in the world.

Images from top to bottom, left to right; all photos of panelists were taken at CDS's 2015 Origins and Inventions national forum: C.D. Wright on the "True Stories: Facts and Fictions" panel, photo by Wei Wang; photo by Sylvia Plachy from her presentation during the “In Place: Hidden Histories” panel; Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Al Letson, Anayansi Dias Cortez, and John Biewen on the "Interactions and Impact" panel, photo by Anna Spelman; detail from interactive, 360-degree sound and image presentation of the CDS front porch developed in DocX; spatial-audio design of front porch presentation; photo by Sylvia Plachy from her presentation during the “In Place: Hidden Histories” panel; photo by Tom Rankin from his presentation during the “Witness and the Documentary Imagination” panel; photo by Sylvia Plachy from her presentation during the “In Place: Hidden Histories” panel; detail from eye-recognition scanning software demo being developed in DocX.

The DocX pilot was funded by a generous grant from the Reva and David Logan Foundation. Further support has been provided by the Revada Foundation.