CUMULUS is a ground-breaking, experimental documentary project focused on the musician Imogen Heap.

The film was crafted only through the manipulation of data and content created and shared by Imogen Heap and her fans on social media and digital content platforms.

It was commissioned by the Reel Lives research project supported by the University of Birmingham, UK in order to explore the concept of ‘digital personhood’. The term “digital personhood” is used to discuss recognition of a human being as having status as a person in the electronic realm.

CUMULUS explores key elements of Imogen’s background, her personality, the unique relationship she has with her fans, and her musical practice. This includes her recent development of the MI.MU gloves that – she sees as an extension of herself though wearable technology – that has enhanced the way she creates and performs music. As an early adopter of new and emerging communication channels, Imogen’s digital footprint is varied and far reaching and her digital personality grows and evolves through the interaction of her fans. Her work and influence also exists as simulacrum in the tributes created by her fans on the digital space – ranging from cover versions of songs, dance performances, tattoos and poetry – all generating multiple versions of Imogen and her work.

It is a challenging, experimental take on the documentary film format, as it fuses Imogen’s digital content and data (such as Tweets, posts, videos, images) with digital animation to blur the lines between the real and the virtual. In exploring the development of Imogen’s personality in the digital space and her reciprocal relationship with technology, the project also touches on ideas of transcendence, the concept of digital consciousness and the reciprocal relationship of the real and the virtual.

Produced and Directed by Christopher Ian Smith.

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