In her digital video work Mass Ornament (2009), the Testament series (2009), and Now He's Out in Public and Everyone Can See (2012), US artist Natalie Bookchin gathers clips from video blogs in which people perform dances and discuss personal and political issues, from sexuality to racism to losing their jobs. In this essay, I argue that Bookchin's work makes an important feminist intervention into discourses that either demonize or lionize social media. Utilizing strategies of seriality, database/narrative, and orchestration, Bookchin crafts a set of composite found footage texts that challenge both documentary form that relies on typicality or composites and interactive documentaries that employ online engagement. Instead, highlighting the body and the utterance as political “contact zones,” Bookchin uses sonic composition and choreography to challenge restricted notions of political speech, demonstrating the simultaneous insignificance and importance of the everyday. Her work therefore highlights the problematic of communicability that the excess of online textual expression presents while at the same time holding out the possibility that—through listening—engaged, dialogic documentary might provide a powerful antidote to the logics of neoliberalism.
Zoë Druick is an associate professor in the School of Communication and associate dean of the Faculty of Communication, Art, and Technology at Simon Fraser University. Her most recent publications are Cinephemera: Archives, Ephemeral Cinema and New Screen Histories in Canada (with Gerda Cammaer, 2014), The Grierson Effect: Tracing Documentary's International Movement (with Deane Williams, 2014), and a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication on Canadian cultural production (with Danielle Deveau, 2015).