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From magic lantern shows to PowerPoint presentations, the slide show has cast a long shadow on documentary film. In the 1880s the New York Police reporter, Jacob Riis, barnstormed America with magic lantern images of urban poverty, hoping to rouse sympathies and eventual relief for the city’s underclass. In mid- 2006, An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary woven around Al Gore’s slide show PowerPoint presentation, screened to audiences around the world. My film, Siberia, is a memory of a time and place but it could also be thought of as a ‘slide show documentary’. This exegesis investigates my own fascination with slide shows and films made from still images. Beyond this personal focus, the exegesis looks more generally at the ‘still/moving’; that is, creative work that occupies a space between still images (photography) and moving pictures (cinema). Recently there has been a wave of interest in the still/moving in installation art and feature films but there has been virtually no written commentary on the still/moving in documentary, and even less on the slide show and documentary. This exegesis explores this gap in knowledge through a combination of biographical, historical and theoretical approaches. The ghost of the slide show haunts many still/moving documentaries but to equate all still/moving works as being ‘slide show documentaries’ misses the mark. In this exegesis, I analyse how stillness operates within a range of still/moving works and argue that ‘still/moving-ness’ is also about punctuation, expression, rhythm and music. My examination of the intersection between the slide show and documentary prises open the relationship between stillness, movement, cinema, photography and auto/biography. It reveals that a characteristic of ‘slide show documentaries’ is their preoccupation with time, memory, mortality and death.
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