UPDATE effective November 2020: With the creation of a new senior leadership position, DocX Director, the Center for Documentary Studies has expanded the scope of its DocX pilot program, funded from 2015 through FY20 by the Reva and David Logan Foundation with further support provided by the Revada Foundation. The DocX pilot has been an incubation space for developing and sharing innovative platforms and tools for nonfiction storytelling and has created new opportunities for experimentation and exploration by and with artists, journalists, media professionals, and students. More information about the work of the DocX pilot is below.
Moving forward, DocX is a central element of CDS as the organization builds on its broad educational base to connect and work with documentary artists on their projects, particularly with makers of color. CDS’s new DocX Director, Stephanie Owens, will work across all CDS programs and activities to extend the reach and capacity of CDS to meet the needs of diverse documentary artists today and in the future.
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 new DocX lab initiative expands on that foundation.
Doc X is an innovative space to experiment and engage in technology-influenced, imaginative thinking around documentary forms, styles, and perspectives.
With DocX, 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.
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 DocBoX: This site, an experiment in deep interactive “TV,” broadcasts content from CDS’s moving image archive, drawing on analog, and random, modes of discovery. Go to cdsdocbox.org on a desktop brower, connect your smartphone, and use it to explore four channels of content—the experience will be different each time you visit. (The site has no menus other than those appearing on your phone, which serves as your remote control and dial.)
CDS Shortwave: One of DocX’s first projects is an experiment in new approaches to nonfiction storytelling, a digital space with an analog soul that invites visitors to slow down, explore, and discover. An old shortwave radio in our offices—its elements of transmitting and receiving, of participation and discovery across great distances—was our inspiration and guiding metaphor.
- Susan E. Tifft Initiative on Documentary and Journalism: DocX is 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 and by panelists are taken from CDS's 2015 Origins and Inventions national forum): Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Al Letson, Anayansi Dias Cortez, and John Biewen on the "Interactions and Impact" panel, photo by Anna Spelman; 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; details from interactive, 360-degree sound and image presentations of the CDS front porch developed in DocX; still from “visual tuner” website being developed in DocX; still from “virtual moving image projector” being developed in DocX; “virtual tuner camera case” being developed in DocX.