Guiding and transforming our creative practices, this paper argues for a critical investigation of the techno‐material affordances at play in doing visual research with digital media. It interrogates how software and skill might interact to mediate creative engagements with digital materialities. Drawing on two ethnographic case studies of and with the Korsakow System – an authoring system for creating generative multiple links between media assets – I show how software combined with other imaging technologies can (re‐)focus attention and action towards the intangible workings of digital code. Three exercises will demonstrate how a with relational media systems challenges and complements ethnographic filmmaking through the adoption of iterative software and design methodologies. Rather than gaining control over code, the aim is to gain control over the loss of it in the field and in front of the screen. In the context of an advancing digital visual ethnography, such a affords an experiential and responsive mode of knowledge production sensitising us to the complexly layered affordances and constraints of digital materialities and the in which they are entangled.