Back 27.10.2019

Feature: Spectre added to MIT Docubase Lab

Spectre has been added to the MIT Docubase Lab, a curated database of the people, projects, and technologies transforming documentary in the digital age. They believe that documentaries play a vital role in our democracy and culture and that today’s technologies and techniques offer creative possibilities for expression: the promise of new voices, and the reach to new publics.

They select projects, using the following criteria:

  1.  Innovative use of emerging technologies or techniques for documentaries that enable interactive, participatory, networked, immersive, locative, or other experiential form
  2. 2.Artistic, social, cultural merit or impact

It is very kind of the team to select the Spectre installation to be part of this ongoing archive for new media practice.



“For sheer innovation and unpredictability, few things can compete with the emergence of a new media practice. Conventions, orthodoxies and routine have not yet set in. Virtually anything is possible. Consider the earliest years of film, radio and television – before any rules or best practices or institutional mandates existed – when media makers could engage in unparalleled levels of experimentation. Today, this untamed creative fervor can be found in the new documentary – a fast-emerging form that includes interaction, participation and community-creation.  This development has served as a catalyst, challenging our inherited notions of story, transforming it and at times moving beyond it.  It affords new vantage points, and requires new literacies.

As the community of new documentary makers and users explores imaginative forms and innovative technologies, negotiates the challenges of collaborative authorship, and engages with its subjects in surprising ways, we have an opportunity denied to the media of the past. No longer must we look back at those unconstrained moments of creativity from a nostalgia-tinted distance. Instead, we can learn from these older media and record today’s nascent steps, collect and consider their many innovative directions, and in the process, expand and enhance meaningful participation in the new documentary community.

‘Unruly’ best describes the amazing documentaries that we’ve gathered together in docubase. True, all share an interest in innovation, in tapping the potentials of digital technologies to tell their stories. But the similarity stops there. Interactive, collaborative, location-based, community-created, parts of larger trans-media experiences … the projects gathered here defy easy categorization. They are made by and with communities, journalists, citizen-activists, film and video makers, game-designers, community organizers, data-visualizers and ordinary people. Some production teams model themselves on the conventions of film, others on games, and still others invent new ways of describing their work. Why so complicated? Because we are witnessing a rare moment that is in equal parts creative and inchoate.

Documentary and our ways of seeing and talking about our experiences of the world have always been at the cutting edge of technology and technique.  We’ve laid out the case for this assertion in Moments of Innovation, and Docubase bears witness to it in the domain of today’s documentary practice. We’ve collected a large number of projects that both exemplify and press the limits of the documentary in its many new forms. We’ve purposely challenged the documentary’s definitional limits, hoping to provoke discussion and user-suggestions for additional projects to include.

The collected projects and the ideas they stimulate offer ways to build a community of participants, to capture the unruly brilliance of our moment, and to envision and create the future of the documentary.”

– William Uricchio, Professor of Comparative Media Studies, Principle Investigator, Docubase Lab


“Spectre was created to explore the tensions that exist concerning the logics of dataism and surveillance capitalism on privacy, truth and democracy. Spectre explores computational forms of propaganda by subverting many of the technologies and methods commonly used by the ad tech industry to influence people’s behaviours – both online and in the voting booth.”

– Bill Posters 

Check out the MIT Docubase platform here.