Spatial Violence and the Documentary Image 

Patrick Brian Smith

 Open access under:
CC BY 4.0
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Moving Image 15

Legenda

  16 June 2024  •  176pp

ISBN: 978-1-839541-78-0 (hardback)  •  RRP £85, $115, €99

ISBN: 978-1-839541-79-7 (paperback, forthcoming)

ISBN: 978-1-839541-80-3 (Hosted on this website)

Open Access with doi: 10.59860/mi.b69945a

ContemporaryFilmHistoryopen


State and corporate violence has always been waged on material space. However, with the escalation of late-capitalist and neocolonial modes of extraction, incarceration, and bordering, these processes of spatial exploitation are accelerating and morphing. In this eloquent and wide-ranging study, Patrick Brian Smith examines how the documentary image is responding—aesthetically, discursively, and politically—to these transformations in spatial violence. Forging connections between a geographically disparate set of documentary works, Smith argues that over the past two decades we have seen an increasing number of experimental documentary works that are structured around radical interrogations of the spatial. How is it that a concentrated, durational, and temporal focus on diverse political spaces and sites of contestation and conflict helps to reveal the layers of spatial violence, exploitation, and injustice embedded within them?

Patrick Brian Smith is a University Fellow in the School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology at the University of Salford.

Contents:

i-x, 1-170

Spatial Violence and the Documentary Image
Patrick Brian Smith
Complete volume as single PDF

The complete text of this book.

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i-x

Spatial Violence and the Documentary Image - front matter
Patrick Brian Smith
doi:10.59860/mi.c6b1f51

Contents and acknowledgements.

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1-28

Introduction
Patrick Brian Smith
doi:10.59860/mi.c7c138e

This introduction focuses on the emerging intersections between the spatial and political in contemporary documentary practice. It argues that spatiality has increasingly been perceived as a site of contestation and conflict under contemporary social, economic, and political conditions and their interrelated power relations. It maps a broad range of contemporary documentary works that are invested in examining the spatial dynamics of modern forms of political violence, exploitation, and injustice. What are the specific properties of the documentary image that might make it a privileged medium for exploring such forms of spatio-political violence? How might a concentrated investigation of diverse political spaces and sites of contestation and conflict help to reveal the layers of spatial violence, exploitation, and injustice embedded within them? The introduction engages with Patrick Keiller’s London (1994) and James Bridle’s Se ti sabir (2019), unpacking how they critically focus on specific spaces and landscapes to reveal broader formations of state and corporate power and violence.

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29-70

Chapter 1: Visualising Late Capitalism’s Landscapes
Patrick Brian Smith
doi:10.59860/mi.c8d07d5

How can the machinations of late capitalism be visualised within moving image practice? How can contemporary non-fiction practices capture and critique the movements of contemporary transnational capital, an economic system that is itself an increasingly invisible machine of capture? By focusing on a variety of documentary works that all share a concern with examining late capitalism’s exploitative spatial logics, this chapter seeks to answer such questions. Key works considered include Hito Steyerl, Liquidity Inc (2014); Thomas Kneubühler, Forward Looking Statements (2014) and Relocation (FPIC) (2014); Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, Trop tôt/Trop tard (1981); Ursula Biemann, Black Sea Files (2005); Harun Farocki, Interface (1995); and Allan Sekula, Fish Story (1995) and The Forgotten Space (2010, with Noël Burch).

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71-120

Chapter 2: Carceral Geographies: Spaces of Exception and Internment
Patrick Brian Smith
doi:10.59860/mi.c05659c

Global prison populations continue to rise, chiefly through the tightly interconnected expansion of disciplinary governmentality and the industrial carceral complex. Experimental non-fiction works seek to visualise, and also critique, the shifting spatial and infrastructural relations of these expanding carceral spaces. Focusing on works that aim to unpack how carceral spaces operate between the inside and outside of prisons, this chapter also examines forms of internment whereby supposed temporary conditions become permanent: migrant detention centres, concentration camps, holding sites for political prisoners, and others. Key works considered include Hans Haacke, A Breed Apart (1978); Susan Schuppli and Steffan Kraemer, Omarska: Memorial in Exile (2013); James Bridle, Seamless Transitions (2015); and Jonathan Perel, Toponimia (2015).

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121-152

Chapter 3: Border Regimes: Labour, Ports, and the Sea
Patrick Brian Smith
doi:10.59860/mi.c16597f

Borders have proliferated, shifting from the periphery to the centre of our lives. The global division of labour and the rise of extra-sovereign forms of governmentality have changed their function in myriad ways. How can the documentary image sense — both aesthetically and politically — mechanisms that are increasingly fragmented, and often withdrawn from sight? How does an aesthetic praxis that is attuned to such sites of spatial fragmentation and heterogeneity help to visualise, and simultaneously re-map and critique, the structures of violence upon which they are ultimately predicated? Key works considered include Anna Lascari, Ilias Marmaras, and Carolin Phillip, Piraeus in Logistical Worlds (2014); Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani, Liquid Traces: The Left-to-Die Boat (2012); and Christos Karakepelis, Raw Material (2011).

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153-158

Conclusion: Media’s Spatial Wake
Patrick Brian Smith
doi:10.59860/mi.c274dc6

The conclusion to the book considers the wider aesthetic and political stakes of this spatio-political turn in contemporary nonfiction media practice. It engages with Allan Sekula's multimedia project TITANIC's Wake (2001) to acknowledge how forms of spatial exploitation and violence also structure and support the material production, circulation, and dissemination of moving image media. Whilst it is crucial to recognise the forms of spatial exploitation underpinning media forms and infrastructures, the conclusion also reinforces the argument that the documentary form holds significant potential for spatio-political critique at the level of aesthetic sensing and sense-making. Ultimately, the modes of aesthetic investigation explored in this book do not reduce space to static forms of representation. Instead, they reveal it as a complex, heterogeneous social product shaped by social, political, and economic forces.

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159-166

Bibliography
Patrick Brian Smith
doi:10.59860/mi.c38420d

A bibliography divided into written sources and then films and photomontages.

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167-170

Index
Patrick Brian Smith
doi:10.59860/mi.c49326c

Index to the book.

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Bibliography entry:

Smith, Patrick Brian, Spatial Violence and the Documentary Image, Moving Image, 15 (Legenda, 2024)

First footnote reference: 35 Patrick Brian Smith, Spatial Violence and the Documentary Image, Moving Image, 15 (Legenda, 2024), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Smith, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Smith, Patrick Brian. 2024. Spatial Violence and the Documentary Image, Moving Image, 15 (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Smith 2024: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Smith 2024: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)


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