‘Searching for District 9 in the Archives: archaeology of a transmedia Campaign’
Film marketing materials have conventionally been regarded as both ephemera and ephemeral but in a digital environment they have become increasingly significant colonising the spaces before, between and beyond the film itself. Indeed the distinctions between promotion and content have become so blurred that, arguably, marketing campaigns have become as entertaining as the films they promote, raising questions about the cultural value of such ephemera. This project set out to examine what transmedia contributes to the narrative ecology of the film and took the award winning campaign designed by the marketing agency, Trigger for Neil Blomkamp’s District 9 (2009) as a starting point. But the research did not get off to an auspicious start because shortly after the project began, the site disappeared. This paper will give an account of a media archaeological excavation to find for District 9’s web campaign. During the search archival sites encountered included institutions set up with the aim of preservation such as the Internet Archive, commercial archives such as the Webby awards as well the ‘new’ generation of web 2.0 archives – a personal blog, YouTube and social media sites. In the light of this, the paper will then reflect on what the German media theorist Wolfgang Ernst referred to as the ‘machine perspective’ and how the mechanisms of the digital archives condition the way we know things about the recent digital past. It will conclude by suggesting that these archival encounters in this research project revealed as much about the nature of digital archives as the film transmediation.