Affective Radicality: Prisons, Palestine, and Interactive Documentary

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This essay analyzes two recent interactive documentary projects: Sharon Daniel’s Public Secrets (2006), an exploration of the prison industrial complex through the testimonies of female inmates in California, and Zohar Kfir’s Points of View (2014) which “maps” Palestinian video advocacy projects made for and/or disseminated by B’Tselem, a human rights organization working in the occupied territories. I argue that the interactive documentary form, as deployed by Daniel and Kfir, draws on the legacies of radical documentary practice, but offers new possibilities for engagement and intervention. The interactive documentary form functions as a structuring device for a wealth of affectively powerful witnesses, testimonies, and varied forms of evidence. This essay explores how interactive documentaries allow viewers/users a multi-faceted affective encounter with a range of subjects and evidence. This form, in concert with a radical political stance, I argue, is a locus for the representation of and viewer/user critical engagement with broad systemic problems, renders visible hidden structures of violence and power, and engenders an “affective radicality” that moves viewers/users into larger networks of political discourse, militant activism, and practices of resistance.




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