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2018 Storytellers' Institute: Surveil/Surveilled

September 8, 2017

Apply today for the 2018 Storytellers' Institute! The deadline is November 7 for students and December 16 for faculty.

The 2018 Storytellers' Institute theme is Surveil/Surveilled.

The act of observing, watching, listening and recording is fundamental to documentary practice and to surveillance. The documentary maker surveils a/the subject. As populations are increasingly surveilled by all levels of government, through security and military interventions into public space, we also increasingly surveil ourselves. Personal data is collected and mined by private companies through social media and other forms of internet archiving that so many use voluntarily on a regular basis. What happens to this growing amount of documentary material amassed by surveillance systems? What rules govern its use? As with all archival material past and present, the entity that controls the content controls access, availability and how stories are told and remembered.

The MDOCS Storytellers’ Institute welcomes national and international documentary storytellers to join Skidmore students and faculty as we study and make work engaged with this theme. During this year’s Storytellers’ Institute, we will analyze documentary as a form of surveillance; consider the ethics and legalities of observing and the vulnerability of being observed; learn how to protect from surveillance; and engage with the documentary material that surveillance systems yield to explore its storytelling and truth telling potentials. 

The annual Storytellers’ Institute, sponsored by the John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative (MDOCS), is a five-week residency during the month of June at Skidmore College. The institute brings together four professional documentary practitioners (visiting fellows) and 10 Skidmore student and faculty members to work on personal projects and engage with the year’s theme. Documentary makers working in all media––sound, film, video, word, performance, installation, etc.––are invited to apply.

Applications are now open!

Sarah Friedland, director of the Storytellers’ Institute