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T_Visionarium is an interactive narrative project investigating the exploration of a database of video streams that are recombined through the interaction of viewers, an interaction which allows new emergent narratives to be generated.
The interactive architecture of digital technology provides a fresh opportunity for reformulating the role of narrative within cinema. Current experimentation in interactive narrative is handicapped by under theorization of the role of time and critical attribution in virtual environments. We know, for instance, that digital architecture is multi-modal. We also know that multi-modal artifacts are shaped by software rather than semiotic codes. Software compresses information into virtually realisable and interpretatively thick units of meaning. Notwithstanding the use of digital animation in conventionally scripted cinema, which laboriously render graphic images from scratch, such as Shrek, or even in post-production enhancements such as Waking Life, the multi-modal information delivered to producers of digital cinema is already condensed into cultural tokens of text, sound and image at the point of contact. For this reason the metaphors of production in digital cinema borrow from images of montage, layering and re-assignment rather than from fabrication. The manipulation of culturally prefabricated information in digital media rehearses the long-standing artistic tradition of transcription. In this tradition the artist is presented with a body of informational resources or cultural goods which they reassemble in the process of creation. Thus the roles of the artist and viewer in a transcriptive model of cinematic production are editorially intertwined.
The project presents an experimental framework which maps the transcription of televisual information as a form of recombinatory search. The re-enactment of televisual information has the potential for allowing a multiplicity of significant differentiations or fissions to occur within the original data. The great mass of televisual information is already received indirectly and sorted by the viewer in episodic memory. Television is encountered through techniques such as – channel hopping, muting, and multi-screens, through multiple association in different contexts, or fragmented through time-delay and by report. Thus even though television broadcasts may begin as purposeful artifacts, their meaning for the viewer is not exhausted by critical recovery of their producer’s original intentions. Rather, their meaning is revitalized into temporal, directional, and irreversible narrations, transcribing the functions such information is felt to cause and can be shown to perform. Transcriptive narrative dramatizes the world instead of freezing it into schematic representations. It transforms the cinema into a kind of Platonic cave wall onto which viewers project, then respond to, the episodic shadows of their journey through cultural information. It is only insofar as digital technology makes multi-modal transportation of data within virtual time a practicality that the aesthetic potential of interactive narrative can be put to the test.
- to explain transcriptive narrative as the viewer generated manipulation of duration and movement in the reflexive reassignment of eventfulness to multi-modal cinematic information;
- to test the function of transcriptive narrative within two demonstrator virtual environments – entitled T_Visionarium I and T_Visionarium II – through the experimental application of recombinatory algorithms in the digitized search of televisual information. The experimental design brings together three existing interactive models that, in concert, enable the eruption of data into multi-temporal narrative forms;
- to evaluate the aesthetic significance of interactive narrative as a product of cultural transcription in digital cinema.