Back to blog

Interactive Documentary Archive

What have you left behind?

Tags: , , , ,

By: Mariana Mota
Project type: collaborative Web

This project was proposed to the archive by Mariana Mota


What have you left behind? is a web documentary that allows the user to browse through 130 testimonials of people of all countries around the theme of loss, changes in life, moving to a new country and discovering new cultures. As Mariana Mota explained to me:” What have you left behind – a story of nomads by nomads-  is a collection of stories by people from many places in the world. 32 notebooks were sent to people in and from different parts of the world with the question “What have you left behind?”. The person was supposed to fill in a page and give the notebooks to another person. A month later 22 the notebooks returned with over 140 testimonies from people from different cultural, educational and social backgrounds. A website was made with a tactile and hand-made aesthetic using pixelation animation.”

The design of the website is making an effort to keep the textuality of the notebooks by keeping the original texts and their handwriting. The user flicks from one page to another one discovering written testimonies of people around the worlds about their experience of moving or changing their lives. In this sense I would consider it an interactive documentary – as it permits the discovery of written fragments wished by an author and arranged around a common theme. There is no narrative involved here – as each notebook contains its own narratives. The user browses through different testimonials (which makes it an hypertext documentary for me) but he/she can also leave his/er own testimy by collaborating online.

Find out more:

click here to see the project

click here to learn more about the author, Mariana Mota.

click here to read  the project’s blog.

My comments:

I find this project quite sweet – maybe because I can easily relate to the topic of foreigness, moving country or learning about  new cultures. The interface of the website is fresh and clean… the fact that there is a hand that hand draws a map – showing us where the author of the fragment that we are reading is coming from – gives it a human touch… and somehow makes it quite personal.

I am unclear though if this is an interactive documentary or a digital visualization of a collection of thematic writings… I suppose there is a thin line between the two. There is no video and no sound involved so the experience is very much the one of reading manuscripts via a digital screen… The added bonus of being able to collaborate via the internet -and sending a personal text- gives the project a participative flavour that could in theory open the documenting experience to a larger audience but… does it work?

I turn the question to you… does it work for you?

  • Share/Bookmark

This entry was posted on Monday, July 13th, 2009

Report incorrect/missing information


  1. No comments yet.

Add commment:

This website is now closed and will stay for reference purposes only. Please follow me on my new blog: