Surveillance in the service of narrative

Winston, Brian (2015) Surveillance in the service of narrative. In: Blackwell companion to documentary. John Wiley, Oxford and Boston, pp. 611-628. ISBN 9780470671641, 9781118884553

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Item Type:Book Section
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

There is a consanguinity of surveillance and documentary which is here explored. Forensic experts depend on an assumption that the surveilled image can "speak for itself," but it cannot. I revisit the Halliday video of the Rodney King beating, a Nannycam "shaken baby" scandal, and the arguments about the evidence presented in the ethnographic classic The Ax-Fight to explore why the image always needs a context, a "caption" in Barthesian terms, if it is to be deconstructed. In all these instances, surveillance presents itself as the purest mode of achieving referential integrity in the documentary image - but, as surveillance is not (and cannot be) a guarantee of authenticity, its use exacerbates the ethical problems involved in "catching life unawares." The Bridge, with its repeated distant observation of suicides, is a dramatic example both of the importance of surveillance to documentary and the moral hazards of deploying it.

Keywords:Media, Documentary film
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
ID Code:12145
Deposited On:23 Jan 2014 15:35

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