Karen Kocher is an Austin-based media producer who works in film and video and multimedia. For the past 10 years, she has been creating media work for digital platforms and studying the ways that the digital technology is expanding the documentary genre. In 2004, she created the first course in interactive documentary within the Department of Radio-TV-Film. This course introduces students to the study and creation of disc and computer-based non-linear documentaries.
Currently Ms. Kocher is developing Living Springs a media-rich website about the culture, history and science of Barton Springs pool. The website will engage young adult and adult learners in an interactive exploration of Barton Springs in Austin, Texas to foster greater understanding of how the natural environment helps to define human culture. Portions of the web site will be developed into interactive exhibits at the Beverly Sheffield Education Center.
In the summer of 2008, she completed Zilker Trek, a mobile media scavenger hunt based on the iPod. This project was designed for the Sunshine Camp in Austin, Texas to help underprivileged kids and their counselors find greater meaning in their natural surroundings through guided, and direct interactions with the natural environment. In 2009 this project was developed for the web and is available to homeschoolers and others interested parties free-of-charge. www.zilkertrek.org
Ms. Kocher's other work includes, Austin Past and Present, a multimedia documentary about the history of Austin, Texas that is installed in kiosks in public buildings, on computers in local libraries, and integrated into the social studies curriculum throughout the Austin Independent School District. The video portions of the project aired on PBS in a feature length documentary format that was nominated for a Lonestar Emmy in the historical documentary category. This feature length documentary was also screened at part of the Austin Film Society, Texas Documentary tour. Austin Past and Present contains over 1600 screens of image and text and over two hours of edited documentary content. The project drew on 160 archival sources and involved more than 150 community members in its production.
In conjunction with The Texas Environmental Center, Kocher worked as an instructional designer and associate producer on Barton Springs Interactive, a CD-ROM based documentary about the history, culture and science of Barton Springs in Austin, Texas. This CD-ROM has been distributed to schools and is also on permanent display in the SPLASH! exhibit at Barton Springs, a science exhibit that is visited by thousands of school children each year.
Kocher has also worked on nationally broadcast PBS documentaries including the award-winning series Chicano!: a History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, and Songs of the Homeland, a documentary about the history of Tex-Mex music.
Ms. Kocher has been teaching documentary production and digital post-production for the Department of Radio, Television and Film at the University of Texas at Austin since 1998. She has also been invited to teach short course documentary workshops as part of the UT Austin/Portugal CoLab in Lisbon, Portugal and Porto, Portugal. In the summer of 2010, Ms. Kocher will teach a course in Video Poetry at the world-renowned Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Colorado.