Television: In Search of a New Aesthetic

Prof. David L. Tucker
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Despite tremendous technological advances in visual technology, the Mannerist aesthetic, the cinematic equivalent of painterly Realism first developed by the Flemish masters in the 15th century, continues to dominate conventional television documentary presentation. Unlike other art forms that eventually abandoned Realism after the discovery of photography and began exploring new abstract, non-objective and conceptual frameworks, mainstream television with few exceptions remains locked in a visual narrative form developed over a century ago with the advent of fictional film. The default rules of established camera and editing vectors have produced a rich but narrow subset of cinematic possibilities but stymied the evolution of documentary by requiring subjects to essentially mimic themselves in heavily-mediated experiences.

The plethora of new digital devices and delivery systems offers the potential to record experience in new ways and to explore interactive, dialogic and other aesthetic possibilities. Just as film originally discovered a new visual language using CU, medium and long shot, so too must television find its own unique aesthetic voice in order to remain relevant as a contemporary art form.

In order to do so, television must begin thinking and experimenting both inside and outside the box.

Keywords: Documentary, Art, Aesthetics
Stream: Analysing Artforms
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Television

Prof. David L. Tucker

Chair, Radio and Television Arts, Ryerson University
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I have 25 years experience working as an award-winning documentary television producer/writer/director. Recent awards include a Gemini, a Gracie, a Freddie and a Chris. Both as a practitioner and academic, I have presented a number of papers on television aesthetics including at the Broadcast Education Association annual peer-reviewed convention in Las Vegas. I am also the Chair of Canada's oldest and most respected broadcast school, Radio and Television Arts at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. There, I am currently spearheading the development of a new Master's degree in Media Production.
I hold a terminal degree in Interdisciplinary Fine Art. With a lifelong passion for the arts, I have been an active filmmaker for 25 years and have variously worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and run my own production company. I have produced, written and directed arts specials, docudramas, current affairs and children's programming but my principal passion is in long-form cinema verite-style documentary. I am especially interested in exploring and probing the often uneasy relationship between television and art.

Ref: A06P0459