The Ethics of Interruption: Refiguring Dominant Narratives through Digital Practice
Digital technologies offer us unprecedented opportunities not only to interact with media forms in novel ways but also to quite literally insert ourselves into media texts. Technologies such as digital access, editing, and compositing mean that we can now place our own images and voices inside texts that – in a previous era – were generally impervious to our interventions. Although it was possible to insert one’s own image or voice into an existing text, it often required technologies that were difficult to access and use. Now, it can be done with a home computer. But what are the effects – aesthetic, narrative, phenomenological, and ideological – of such “insertions”? In this paper, I argue that digital compositing participates in what I refer to as an “ethics of interruption,” actively disrupting images in order to interrogate their naturalized power. By looking at three texts, Take Me to Pemberley (Daniela Zahlner, 2015), Falling in Love…with Chris and Greg: Work of Art! Reality TV Special (Chris E. Vargas and Greg Youmans, 2012), and I for NDN (Clint Enns and Darryl Nepinak, 2011), I suggest that digital technologies are allowing everyday citizens to interrupt the stories that the dominant media tells – particularly stories about women, gay people, and people of colour – and offer other kinds of stories that make us laugh even as we learn to see differently.
Jaimie Baron is an Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Alberta. Her work on documentary, experimental film and video, audiovisual appropriation, and digital media has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. Her first book, The Archive Effect: Found Footage and the Audiovisual Experience of History, was published in 2014. She is the founder, director, and co-curator of the Festival of (In)appropriation, a yearly international festival of short experimental found footage films and videos. She is also a co-founder of Docalogue, an online space for scholars and filmmakers to engage in conversations about contemporary documentary.