A Theory and Practice of Transmedia Arts Activism, Critical Design and Ethics
Chapter 2 Digital Documentary Praxis
Demonstrating the need to transform the discourses of authenticity, ethnography, salvage ethnography and autoethnography, the previous chapter presented some exemplary cases of how minority and indigenous media artists have experimented with various techniques of documentary self-representation. Alongside these works, this chapter details how the one-hour documentary Tongues of Heaven (2013) case study further elaborates on these experiments in self-representation. What conditions enable minority and indigenous media artists to pursue experiments in representation? How does process, content and form figure into how these experiments are carried out? What kinds of critical media practices might give rise to a third digital documentary?
To provide historical context, Tongues of Heaven arose from colonialism’s wreckage caused by successive colonial regimes in Taiwan, most notably from the early twentieth century to today. Several centuries of colonial violence included forced assimilation, more recently during the Japanese (1896–1945) and Kuomintang (1949–1987) rule, which included the compulsory adoption of their languages, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, respectively. Starting with the lifting of martial law in 1987, marking Taiwan’s entrance into a participatory democracy for the first time in the island’s history, Taiwan’s indigenous peoples have steadily gained more recognition and influence in state-level matters, including education. While the early days of bentuhua [best translated as ‘Taiwanization’] were Han Chinese-centric, the main opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), saw the need to downplay the prevalent dichotomy between Hoklo Taiwanese and the mainlanders (settler autocratic Chinese rulers ←41 | 42→from...
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