Documentary and the Amateur Media Swarming (Seminar)

  • Andrea Mariani (Panel chair)
  • Annamaria Motrescu- Mayes (Speaker)
  • Charles Tepperman (Speaker)
  • Tze-lan Deborah Sang (Speaker)
  • Alyssa Grossman (Speaker)
  • Chambers Ciara (Speaker)
  • van der Heijden, T. (Speaker)
  • Ming Yu-Lee (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesConference contribution (without a publication)Academic


Amateur movie makers acted as chroniclers of their time (Montrescu-Mayes and Aasman 2019), going out with their camera and capturing life on the streets and during events. Although increased hybridization characterizes the “home movie” mode and the “amateur/experimental” one, they historically swung from a domestic/observation-based practice to a more complex multi-layered one. Documentary and amateur film practices shared a lineage in the way they maintained a relationship with their environments, in the forms of observing, keeping memory and participating. Nevertheless, media technologies played a decisive role in expanding the realm of the observable, providing new manners of observation, extending the radius of influence. Accordingly, the primacy of observation - of inner or exterior worlds - never outdid creative, militant and experimental methods, meant as strategies for discovering a “hidden reality” (be intimate/psychological or social) by treating “facts” as technical effects of experimental arrangements or “committed” modes of filmmaking (Gaines 1999). Rather than focusing on the single work’s representations or on the authorial intention of single personalities, this seminar assumes a media ecological perspective, while questioning the impact of spatial interactions and technical entanglements on the amateur film production. It invites us to look at practitioners and their works from afar, addressing the way filmmakers and amateur images flew and circulated among spaces, media infrastructures, and networks, within a multi-dimensional scale, in a long durée perspective. Scholarship on amateur media history recently stressed global and transnational perspectives (Fibla-Salazkina 2021) as well as critical temporalities (Montrescu-Mayes and Aasman 2019), addressing media practices from analog to digital. This seminar invites to discuss new modes of representing and questioning the amateur “motion intelligence” and identity, stressing media materiality according to a "media theory of swarming", where situation-dependent interactions on the local level could be transformed by the feedback effects caused by the global changes of the swarm on these local interactions (Vehlken 2019).
It will discuss models of interaction between individuals and multiplicity/collectives, material formats of image circulation in relation to local and global media infrastructures, individual or collective movements across multi-scale networks.

The 'Documentary and the Amateur Media Swarming' Seminar was organized by Dr. Andrea Mariani, University of Udine.
Period8 Sept 20239 Sept 2023
Event titleVisible Evidence XXIX: Documentary Ecologies
Event typeConference
LocationUdine, ItalyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • media swarm
  • amateur media
  • documentary
  • media history
  • film history
  • film studies
  • amateur film