Julie Rafalski

The Document

Something is always lost in the process of documentation.

One medium is used to record or capture something, whether it's video, photography, written account, memory or drawing. But in the act of recording, inevitably something is lost, for something is being translated into a specific medium. Something else is perhaps also gained, as in translating form language to language sometimes yields words that might seem superfluous. The whole of a story or a place or a person cannot be recorded; a fragmented and distorted view, in a lesser or greater extent is what remains after something is documented.

Oftentimes, documents tell more about our time and ourselves than they do about what is being documented. Who is doing the documenting as well as in what time period it is being done also play a big role. In Michelangelo Antonioni's film The Passenger, there is a scene where the TV journalist David Locke is interviewing some rebel fighters, one of whom says that the video footage he is recording says more about Locke (and his political nd cultural outlook) than himself. The same could be said of anyone who points a camera.

This is not to say that one should seek out an unmediated and unfragmented view in documenting something, for that is impossible.

In documenting something numerous times, it is more like a jazz musician performing a piece countless times. It will still be the same piece, but it will be interpreted differently each time, each time it will be a different combination of elements, each time something will be misremembered, there will be a loss in one instance and each time there will be an addition of something altogether different.

A documentation process that involves experimenting with what is being documented seems more interesting to me. I like to see documentation as a form of play, in which one interacts with what is being documented, experimenting with it, even to the point of its destruction.

Michelangelo Antonioni