The Archive Effect: Found Footage and the Audiovisual Experience of History examines the problems of representation inherent in the appropriation of archival film and video footage for historical purposes. Baron analyses the way in which the meanings of archival documents are modified when they are placed in new texts and contexts, constructing the viewer’s experience of and relationship to the past they portray. Rethinking the notion of the archival document in terms of its reception and the spectatorial experiences it generates, she explores the ‘archive effect’ as it is produced across the genres of documentary, mockumentary, experimental, and fiction films. This engaging work discusses how, for better or for worse, the archive effect is mobilized to create new histories, alternative histories, and misreadings of history.

The book covers a multitude of contemporary cultural artefacts including fiction films like Zelig, Forrest Gump and JFK, mockumentaries such as The Blair Witch Project and Forgotten Silver, documentaries like Standard Operating Procedure and Grizzly Man, and videogames like Call of Duty: World at War. In addition, she examines the works of many experimental filmmakers including those of Péter Forgács, Adele Horne, Bill Morrison, Cheryl Dunye, and Natalie Bookchin.

chapter |15 pages


History, the archive, and the appropriation of the indexical document

chapter |32 pages

The Archive Effect

Appropriation and the experience of textual difference1

chapter |33 pages

Archival Fabrications

Simulating, manipulating, misusing, and debunking the found document

chapter |28 pages

Archival Voyeurism

Home mode appropriations and the public spectacle of private life

chapter |29 pages

The Archive Affect

The archival fragment and the production of historical “presence”1

chapter |35 pages

The Digital Archive Effect

Historiographies and histories for the digital era

chapter |5 pages


The audiovisual experience of history – and beyond