The documentary interior

Chapman, Mark (2021) The documentary interior. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)

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This PhD by publication derives from a body of research which examines how material drawn from reality -that is, subjects, images or stories founded in ‘documentary’- can be used to visualise and interpret unpresented subjective spaces-thoughts, feelings, dreams- which I term the ‘Documentary Interior’. My work asks how can ethical creative intervention via an expressive conceptualisation of the historical/factual world be redeployed to create a documentary aesthetic that reveals interior space on screen?

Over the last decade my research has utilised a range of creative arts practice and filmmaking methodologies covering production (Camrex, TRANS, Funny Onion, photographic works) and exhibition (The Invisible and the Real). This internationally exhibited body of work provides the foundation and determines the trajectory of research as I move towards my first feature film (Truant). Whilst there is an extensive history of scholarly discourse concerning the documentary film, relatively little has focused on its aesthetic properties. John Corner (2008) suggested that the documentary has traditionally been associated more with the knowledge systems rather than aesthetics, and consequently is ‘widely seen to lack the symbolic richness of narrative cinema both in its visual design and its textual organisation.’ However, Michael Renov (2013) has repeatedly emphasised documentary’s capacity for expressivity and its close relationship to fictional works, arguing for the kind of aesthetic innovation found in the work of Vertov, et al. Renov’s belief that this formal paradigm is inseparable from the documentary’s rhetorical function underpins his proposition that, ‘The formal regime is the very portal of sense-making; it determines the viewer’s access to the expression of ideas.’

My research explores the potential of the aesthetic realm to present nonphysical and internal spaces previously thought to be out of bounds for the documentary camera and where an articulation of the ‘Documentary Interior’ might be presented: thus extending the critical context concerning nonfiction and the formal mutations of creative arts practice (Renov (various), Beattie (2008), Hongisto (2015)) and aligning the work with the methodologies of art cinema practitioners whose work is built upon the raw material of reality, such as Pedro Costa, Roberto Minervini and Clio Barnard.

This PhD by Publication will map, contextualise and critically examine my practice in light of the uses of nonfiction methodologies within an art cinema context in order to engage with the world around us from the inside out and as such render private, personal spaces as ethical and political ones.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Film, Filmmaking, Photography, Nonfiction, Creative Arts Practice
Subjects: W600 Cinematics and Photography
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy by published work
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2021 15:27
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2021 15:30

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