The ‘Are You Happy?’ project

Mandy Rose

In Pakistan, Ozair Rao // In Peru, Irma Luz Poma Canchumani

In Scotland, Julian Cheatle // In Wales, Cath Lewis, Danae Hunter, Mandy Rose

In Trinidad, John Barry // In Argentina, Maria Rosa Andreotti

The ‘Are You Happy?’ Project is a multi-year, multifaceted exploration of the intersection between documentary and networked culture. Fifty years after Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin launched their seminal 1961 documentary, Chronique d’un Eté, at a new moment of technological change, Mandy Rose has gathered footage from filmmakers and film enthusiasts around the world who she invited to revisit or restage the vox pop sequences from that film.

The second stage of the project, Searching for Happiness, which launched in May 2013, takes advantage of the latest generation of web technology (HTML5) to investigate the potential of live data for the ‘creative treatment of actuality’ (the phrase references John Grierson’s 1926 definition of documentary). Selected video contributions are combined through montage with social media – Tweets, Flickr images – drawn in ‘live’. In Searching for Happiness, the use of social media provides a live recontextualisation of the video content, reinscribing some of the social and cultural surround that was lost in the filming process. Based on search terms, the social media is contingent, specific and emergent, so that the user-experience of the documentary changes from person to person and moment to moment. In this respect Searching for Happiness offers an enunciation of documentary as live experience and open text.


The project organisers are still looking for people to get involved – to re-stage or re-interpret the 1960 interviews in their own neighbourhood today.

The ‘Are You Happy?’ Project is being undertaken within the CollabDocs research project at the Digital Culture Research Centre, University of the West of England, with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Mandy Rose is Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the University of the West of England and Director of the Digital Cultures Research Centre. She is a co-founder and producer of the BBC’s pioneering camcorder project Video Nation and Executive Producer of  award winning participatory projects, Capture Wales and Voices.

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