Documentary Techniques


When representing culture, moving images have to deal with a forced selection. The elements that get through the lens of a camera, are thought t be significant both to create consistency of the film or to uncover a novelty hidden in foreignness. In representing culture details become essential, hence the attachments of people and objects are contextualised as means and ends of the culture itself but also re-contextualised in the screen.

Encapsulating an item into a frame making of it a representation, which, to quote Baudrillard, deprives the image of any original reference to the real, linking it to an hyperreal that is the system of reference created by the man with a camera. M Michalski and J. Gow, distinguished the techniques of current affairs films, which are short in format and episodic, and long-format documentaries, to describe how the medium alters the relation image-understanding-interpretation.

Among the long format documentaries, they identify the category of ‘drama documentary’ especially because this format permits the complication of issues with fast-cutting, jump editing, opinions and sound that emphasise mood and eventually re-create reality.  Louis Theroux, for example in ‘ My Scientology’ attempted at re-creating, with proper with Actors on settings the characters and the processes of the Scientology Church. Juxtaposing elements of fiction and reality, he under covered some of the most secret methods of the religious corporation; in faithful objectivity, such details that would have otherwise remained hidden.  Moreover, in this visual essay, Theroux was recorded by members of Scientology, a glitch that allowed him to build on the awkwardness conveyed by the slightly distorted interviewees with problematic ex-members while intervowing the story into an authoritative Whole. Such technique goes under the name of the Lapping technique which costructs the story through the mouths of the protagonists,thus  tech builing  on the credibility of the parts to create a detailed and fragmented narrative.

On the feeling of awkwardness, dominating the critique of documentaries upon the depiction of the ‘Other’, has speculated the architect Rem Koolhaas. In Lagos, he produced an ‘interactive’ documentary where aerial shoots are juxtaposed with scenes from the streets and authentic views into the public buildings and private houses at street level. Without a storyteller, Koolhass leaves the image speak for itself and with long immobile shots it reveals all the ambiguities hidden in details of a society and the relation between people and space. Besides aiming at bringing the subjects and the audience’s experience together, the reality of a foreign city represents itself according to that is made up of people and spaces, truly understandable only with the direct experience of it.


Baudrillard, J. (1983). Simulations. 1st ed. New York City, N.Y., U.S.A.: Semiotext(e), Inc.

YouTube. (2017). My Scientology Movie. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Feb. 2017].

Michalski, M. and Gow, J. (2007). War, image and legitimacy. 1st ed. London: Routledge.

YouTube. (2017). Lagos Wide and Close Online 1. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Feb. 2017].

Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: › Submarine Channel › Videos [Accessed 4 Feb. 2017].


Mise and Abyme


The couple left the gallery at 7 pm and walked arm in arm with each other to the opaque bar at the corner. It was a winter evening, when the streets were empty but the rumour of the city remained in the echo. The couple sat at counter and adjusted their legs; he lighted up a cigarette and then ordered a coffee.

-Thanks, Erwin

– Did you like the exhibition, Poppy?

– Oh, yes of course, I used to see this Hopper’s painting in my art class, and staring at it I believed I could have done it, so easily, but today I realized I couldn’t have: he is a genius, so precise and so sensitive to light…pfff, I don’t know how to say it, really, I would like to sound as an art critic, but I can’t!

-Well, what did you like the most?

– Oh, I couldn’t find a favourite one, but I like the fact that they are so silent. Do you like this one of mine?

-I wouldn’t sa…

– Maybe I am confusing you again, I didn’t mean to sound pretentious, like that small high school girl.

-I meant, I wouldn’t say so. Hopper’s paintings speak a lot to me, I can begin a proper dialogue with them… maybe you look to much, suspicious monkey; Instead, you should approach his paintings with your soul.

-How can you have a conversation in those static and surreal landscapes? They make me feel excluded. Moreover, Erwin, you communicate only when you need to, otherwise you keep quiet.

She glances the barman; he is bewildered. She lowers her eyes towards the lighter in her hands.

-You know, I believe that everything we see is a prediction

-ah, like me! Am I so predictive?

-Well your harassment is, eheh.

-Would you like me to leave you alone in this solitary place now?

-No, please, Poppy come on, stay.

-Okay I won’t leave, but you are wrong because you could not predict whether I’d stay or not

-What do you think, I know you have finished your cigarettes and that you love smoking at night, in bars…

Ding Cling

A man enters, shadows are behind him and the fresh air finds its way through the door, the lights tremble softly, Poppy clings her head, the man goes strictly to the stool. He too, lights up a cigarette and then orders a coffee rising his finger above his head.

-She catches a glimpse of the smoking lips at her side and then goes back to the lighter, lights it up and looks in front of her.


Dällenbach, L. (1989). The mirror in the text. 1st ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Blnchot M. (1993).The infinite conversation. 4th ed. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.


Maps and the 20th Century Drawing the Line – Review

In the 20th century politician  renewed the use of maps in order to understand and manage more broadly many aspets of society.

The Exhibition Maps open until the 1s of March at the British Library displays the history of maps within the past century by a subdivision into maps of war, peace, market and movement, therefore also drawing the history of the 20th century.

In each sections the art of carthography explored through technical perspectives, design, representation and innovation. The visitor dwells in a  space of constructions that deconstruct movement paths and references alternative juxtapositions of elements.

Cartography making has deeply changed from the advent in the early 90′ of Gps, thta has not only paved the way to a new extened employ of geography, but has also revealed how inaccurate territorial maps were when used to trace the signs of humanity on earth.

During wartime, there was an increased interest in maps as infographic tools, strategic devices as well as images of contemplation for the nation with colonial expanision and military occupation aims. Map for war, are rich of symbolism and allegories that depict the stereotypes which supported the renewed wave of nationalism.

The section on peace, collects maps of the post-war period, which deal mostly with hope for the future, utopia of reconstruction and tourism. The maps show greater sophistication in data representation but also an increased fashion for representing ”atlas’ of culture.

As the world got reconstructed and converted to the goods economy, maps began to be employed to syntetize socio-economic data from census and income as well as showing the complication of city centers with he development of shopping areas and international interests.

The final sections shows how the world is marked by human movent. In this final room elements of early carthography are combined with the latest technologies which are able to record the tranfer of other species than the human one, but also a final social reaction to the confinement of constructed path in the name of rediscovery of unconstrained journey.

References (2017). Map Projection Transitions. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Feb. 2017].