The Geo-Doc: Explorations in Digital Media

The Geo-Doc: Explorations in Digital Media

Postdoctoral Fellow Mark Terry published The Geo-Doc: Explorations in Digital Media in Volume 52, Number 2, SPRING 2020 edition of Explorers Log, a publication of The Explorers Club World Center for Exploration.


The Geo-Doc: Explorations in Digital Media

Communications is one of our most valuable commodities. How we use it can begin and end wars; it can inform and misinform millions of people; it can confirm and deceive; it can educate and supress knowledge. Often, communication is taken for granted and only missed these days when we can’t get a WiFi signal. Social media has made communicators of us all, but with little of the ethical or moral requirements necessarily associated with the responsible dissemination of information. Memes attribute currently convenient philosophies to famous historical figures who never said any such thing in their lives. One such famous meme claims that Abraham Lincoln once said “The problem with quotes found on the Internet is that they are often not true.” For many, this is laughable; but for some, it’s credible.

The problem with this abundance in communication is sifting through it all for the truth. One medium that I have spent most of my career in exploration using is the documentary film. Its claims to the truth are well-documented, both in its purist form with such pioneers as Dziga Vertov (kinopravda, Russian for “film truth”), and in its misrepresentative, re-creative, or staged forms as we have seen in the works of, among others, Robert Flaherty, who once famously said “Sometimes you have to lie to tell the truth” in defence of fabricating scenes for his film Nanook of the North.

My approach to documentary filmmaking has always extended from my training in journalism: to tell a story incorporating truth in all its forms within a non-editorializing narrative.

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