The word “documentary” comes loaded with many connotations and assumptions. For many people a documentary is merely assumed to be a collection of facts. Or worse yet, it is considered some sort of ‘opposite’ of fiction. In this case I’d have to side with my favorite living German filmmaker Werner Herzog to say that it is neither facts or fiction which are relevant, but rather the communication of truth which is more important. To that end, yesterday in class we screened the Herzog documentary “Grizzly Man” and today screened “Gates of Heaven” by Errol Morris. These films provide us unusual takes on eccentric characters, multifaceted stories which include critical perspectives, as well as constructions for the camera – reenactments, stagings and subtle dramatizations which reveal deeper levels of meaning than conventional approaches.
Alongside these screenings I have been conducting one-on-one personal consultations with each participant in the class. The approaches to the theme are diverse; a modular boat-sharing system for Berlin’s waterways reminiscent of car-sharing; variations on a hammock hotel for various audiences; a short-term bike rental system with hybrid vehicles that can be slept in; a scheme for transporting the atmosphere of hotel rooms in the form of mood lighting. An important focus has been to get students thinking about specific audiences to jumpstart the process of telling the stories of their projects. We have used a service design technique involving mapping values from favorite objects and services to spark inspiration, asking questions like: How can a boat be soft like a bed? How can a hammock be independent like a backpack? How can a bicycle be fast like a computer? The answers to these questions can yield insights into product/service features as well as provide an outline of touchpoints for the narrative.
I’m looking forward to see how these projects turn out!