Transformative truth-telling at the MIT Open Documentary Lab

A mans ghostly tone speak-sings from the black screen: ’Rock-a-bye baby on the treetops …’ Its a experimental tone unused to intoning lullabies the tone of a man who was just released from prison. When he was convicted his twin children were 45 days old. Now theyre 21. This fathers tone is one of dozens calm in the ongoing documentary project ’A Fathers Lullaby’ by running MIT Open Documentary Lab Fellow Rashin Fahandej. It comprises a collation of archivesed lullabies and oral histories from aggregation members and incarcerated fathers separated from their young children. The project has taken such forms as a geo-located sound installation and an award-winning museum representation.

This inventive and moving schedule of lost lullabies is one of many examples of the boundary-pushing creative works that are establish in the MIT Open Documentary Lab (ODL) archive — a deep archive known as the Docubase. Others include a poetic city symphony of Nairobi in potential verity a mixed boused documentary and potential verity game that tells the story of an Egyptian lesbian couple and a participatory oral history of immigrant communities in Los Angeles. Many of these projects can also be described as ’transmedia’— a term for works that prolong over a one medium while playing to the strengths of each one.  

Docubase which takes the form of a vast website repository is only one facet of the ODLs ongoing commission to explore and incubate innovative forms of documentary using emerging technologies and techniques among them cell phone archivesings potential and augmented verity and deep-fake manipulations. Other facets of the lab include many primary projects; a co-creation studio; a weekly promulgation; conferences; championing open literacy almost technologies including AI and their implications; and weekly lecture series open to the MIT aggregation and over. Now celebrating its 10th year ODL also boasts a far-reaching network of fellows creators and researchers all perched at and defining the sharp edge of what a documentary can be. 


In the late aughts William Uricchio a professor of relatively media studies and the establishing highest investigator of ODL recognized that documentary was in a instant of transition. He formulated the idea of a new lab at MITs sole crossroads of artistic and technological alteration inspired by the Institutes long history of using media to archives aspects of the globe.

Sarah Wolozin the labs establishing ruler and the creator of Docubase says ’If you look at the history of documentary its always evolving depending on what technology was useful. One of the earliest examples are cave paintings. Today nation use cellphones cameras computers sensors and many other technologies and processes to form stories almost the globe about us.’

Before helping Uricchio establish the lab Wolozin was working as a program director at MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing. As a multiplatform documentarian herself she had been experimenting with media forms as a creator since the mid-90s when the internet leading became openly affable.