Interactive and Immersive Documentary: Designing for User Performance


This session addresses examples of interactive and immersive documentary practice which are intended to be activated through interaction with users. In common with more established traditions of feature film, televisual and audio documentary these examples also look to engage users in experiences intended to mobilise them toward social and political participation. Unlike these earlier traditions, however, the effectiveness and impact of their constructions relies less on a sense of common spectatorship of a single audio-visual or aural text. Instead, interactive and immersive documentary typically ask users to work their way through carefully configured and staged multimedia material, accessible through interactive screens and navigable virtual spaces. These are experiences developed not by documentary filmmakers but documentary designers, working in software-based workflows drawing upon different kinds of specialisation from those of earlier traditions of documentary. These forms of documentary practice are focused on designing digital constructions which need to be ‘performed’ by users. They demand active engagement from users, providing opportunities for users to exercise their agency in selecting and activating affordances such as selecting options, scrolling and playing content, and moving through simulated space. Drawing from a software studies paradigm, this study uses examples of interactive and immersive documentary to consider the opportunities, challenges and implications for documentary practitioners moving increasingly into user experience design


Craig Hight
Associate Professor, Humanities, Creative Industries and Social Sciences, University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Visual Design


Documentary practice, Software studies, Immersive, Interactive, Affordances

Digital Media


Interactive and Immersive Documentary (mp4)