Encountering the Urban with Innovative Digital Methods: My i-Doc adventure into the Pop-up City

Authors: Ella Harris*, Goldsmiths University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: methods, interactive documentary, politics, pop-up, nonlinearity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Executive Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Interactive documentaries (“i-Docs”) are a digital, nonlinear form of documentary that present users with multiple pathways through a variety of filmic and other media. As part of my PhD, I experimented with the methodological creation of an i-Doc, with the intention of helping me to articulate and explore the spatiotemporal imaginaries of London’s pop-up culture.
In this paper I discuss the value of i-Docs as an innovative digital method. With reference to (and demonstration of) the i-Doc I made, I argue that their nonlinear and interactive format is valuable for understanding and engaging with contemporary urban imaginaries in two key ways. Firstly, I explore how i-Docs help to articulate and communicate what might otherwise be nebulous ways that urban space-time is imagined and experienced. If the analysis of cultural forms has long been a way for theorists to gain insights into the spatiotemporal logics of particular eras, then I show how making an i-Doc allowed me to articulate the spatiotemporality of London’s pop-up culture; by creating a digital interface that evokes its logics of immersion, flexibility, interstitiality, secrecy and surprise. Secondly, I argue that i-Docs help us to critically examine the politics of contemporary urban imaginaries, as well as to interrogate the imaginaries that Geography itself brings to the urban. I explore how making my i-Doc illuminated the different agendas that nonlinear imaginaries are mobilized towards within pop-up, while simultaneously enabling me to question the assumption, often made by Geographers, that nonlinear thinking connects with a progressive urban politics

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