Witness, Evidence, and Documentary Art

“This thing we call documentary and this thing we call invention are universal impulses to see, to create, a happening—what we try to do here I think is not so much ‘take’ [photographs] but craft them into something. We do things with them, but they are there. They are in the world. . . .”

For twenty-five years, CDS has nurtured documentary artists across all mediums and in all forms: artists who take their time and who travel deep. This meditation by Tom Rankin, director of the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts at Duke and former CDS director, is on the origins and inventions that illuminate our documentary landscape and considers the fundamental nature of the documentary impulse.Tom presented and narrated his image chapter-book as part of a panel, “Witness and the Documentary Imagination,” at Documentary 2015: Origins & Inventions, CDS’s 25th anniversary celebration and forum, and reflects our intention to create spaces in which to slow down—a space in which we can share informed perspectives and bear witness to powerful human stories.

CDS Shortwave Spotlight: Tom Rankin