In this module, documentation theory in relation to installation art is not further elaborated. The focus from now on will be on the practice of realising video documentation for installations. That is: how to utilise video to give insightful information about a specific installation, including components, context, and information on how to re-install the work.
Although video documentation of installations, performances and other temporary artistic events are commonly used in contemporary art, research and good practice on this subject are rare. On the other hand, in the field of libraries and archives accessibility and preservation of video documentation is a common topic of research. 3 Also within the performance and theatre field research into documentation and video documentation takes place frequently 4. Those insights have been most useful in developing this good practice guide.
In video documentation, time and space are differently organised than the viewer experiences in a real installation. The ability to jump from a close-up to a long distance shot, for example is among numerous other ways to manipulate the documentation. A video will be adapted to the installation (content) on the one hand, and to the language of film at the other hand. Perhaps certain aspects are not very significant for the installation but interesting to look at. Also, it might be difficult to capture in video documentation certain distinctive features of the installation. For example, how to present an overall impression, visual aspects of its components, the relationship between components, the relationship to space/architecture, sound, movement, choreography/trajectory, time-specific aspects, interactivity, presence and experience of the audience. How to present different parts/activities simultaneously? What are the most suitable camera points, how to edit and when? These are too many questions to answer at once and they very much depend on the purpose of making a video documentation in the first place. The first question to ask then is: What is the purpose of video documentation and what would be useful scenarios?
note 3: The North American Performance Archive & Retrieval Working Group presented in October 2003 current practices in ‘Capturing Live Performance Events‘
note 4: PARIP‘s (Practice as Research in Performance)