History of Participation

This week’s group presented on the topic of participation. The history of participation has bee around long before the use of media. It dates back all the way to the early 1900s where artists would provoke an audience to interact. In some instances they even got the audience to throw food at them to make a statement.

Before media really came into the picture participation came in the forms of installations and performance pieces. In the 1960s, Allan Kaprow created a politically driven piece called The Yard where participants were encouraged to climb and walk all over the tires in however they felt.


YARD (1961), Allan Kaprow (installation)

As time continued and participation became more popular into the 90s, the web 2.0 was created which totally changed the game. The web 2.0 now allowed for an audience to participate as well as add in their own content. Now the use of shares, hashtags, and likes create a sort of collaborative network and participation has grown to a new level.

In 2011 the film Life in a Day, the audience (from all over the world) participated by creating personal clips to share in conjunction with YouTube. Those clips were then all pieced together creating a glimpse of life in a day and the similarities we all share as humans. This was a fully crowdsourced feature and would not have been possible without the participation of its audience.


Life in a Day (2011), Scott Free Productions

This idea of crowdsourcing and the culmination of multiple ideas coming together, creates a collective intelligence. Participation in terms of Documentary has helped to shape a message that can more easily relate to its audience. The use of multiple voices and viewpoints on a topic elevate the message in a way that was not possible before the use of participation.

For my project I will be featuring a variety of artists in very short documentaries. This alone does not allow for much participation from the audience. Instead of participation within the works I will have a call to action for the audience to suggest or nominate future artists that could be featured in future docs. This is turn lets the audience help decide what the future content might look like.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.



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