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Expanded documentary: On “Cherry Blossoms”, Kutlug Ataman and Eija-Liisa Ahtila

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In this chapter I first compare the notion of the viewer as I encountered her and him in my work, both in the multimedia project Scattering of the Fragile Cherry Blossoms, when she takes up a participatory position, as in my single-screen documentaries where she is a prefigured viewer. Afterwards, I will broaden the scope by discussing the position of the viewer in what we could call instances of expanded documentary. In the tradition of expanded cinema (Youngblood 1970) documentary filmmakers are currently augmenting the medial possibilities beyond the classical single screen tradition. Their presentation mode shifts from a cinema space to an exhibition space. Especially a ‘new’ position of the viewer seems to be explored through such expanded instances. Kutlug Ataman and Eija-Liisa Ahtila are two important artists who investigate the implications of expanded documentaries for the spectator in different ways. By looking into the position of the viewer as exemplified in their work, I wish to explore the more performative and embodied aspects of a visual arts spectatorship. As Mieke Bal argues, the ‘primary task of exhibitions is to encourage visitors to stop, suspend action, let affect invade us and then quietly in temporary respite, think’ (Bal 2011). In embodied spectatorship, meaning is being created in a physical sense (in time and in space) so as to escape ‘the urgent passage of linear time, or what Barthes referred to as the ‘continuous voracity’ of the filmic image’ (Catherine Fowler 2004).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnfolding spectatorship
EditorsDavid Depestel, Christel Stalpaert, Katherina Pewny
Place of PublicationGent
PublisherAcademia Press
Publication date2016
ISBN (print)978 90 382 2598 2
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Book chapter: Expanded documentary, On “Cherry Blossoms”, Kutlug Ataman and Eija-Liisa Ahtila — 2016, in: Unfolding spectatorship, Editors Stalpaert Christel, Pewny Katharina, and David Depestel Published by Academia Press (ginkgo-label), S:PAM

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