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MonthJanuary 2017

SHARING 5: Interactive Films at Sundance

Are Interactive Films Transforming Modern Storytelling? Sundance’s New Frontier Has the Answer

This is a really interesting and thought provoking article I read on IndieWire. You guys can check their site for more cool stuff too.

So it is talking about Sundance which is this huge film festival and there are a lot of really good independent films that show there. I usually am more drawn to these stories and concepts rather than the big summer blockbusters and immense screen presences.

Here we see that Sundance has recently embarked since about 3-4 years ago on a totally new category of films – Interactive Films. I certainly feel that this is a step forward for the modern film lover. Of course we cannot have all film going this direction either. But I appreciate the experimentation and this new ways of letting a story unravel in a sense that film makers now are not spoon-feeding us. They expect the audience to pick up our interest in what we see and decide for ourselves what we want to see and what we make of that. And this can be a very powerful experience.

I picked out from the article this example which is I Love Your Work (2003) which is a piece by Jonathan Harris. We have seen some of his work during class like Whale Hunt and his Birthday photography series. So this is done in the format of an Interactive Film and we can see how his photography experience and the way he presents his photos in those interfaces he created on his website, has translated into this film work. I Love Your Work is very realist and raw. We go into the everyday lives of nine young women who engage in lesbian porn. Over 2 thousand 10-second clips were shot taken at five-minute intervals over 10 consecutive days. So it is very candid. And we can interact with the interface to view around six hours of footage.
However it is capped at 10 viewers per day, and tickets cost $10 for each viewing, so I haven’t seen it. Probably in the near future when I can have time to really appreciate and experience this work as I think it will be quite interesting.

SHARING 4: Putting it all on the Table – More on Narrative Adaptations

Snow White on the Table (2008) from hyojung SEO on Vimeo.

 

This is a rather interesting piece, again adapting upon an existing narrative, in-fact a fairy tale, one which we are all very much familiar. However there is all of things that appear rather subversive here and the viewer is given the chance to explore this in a non-linear way. So it is highly interactive and challenges us in the way that we are re-reading this story because it does not seem to be the Snow White that we all know. I guess it is also interesting to note that these fairy tales were rather dark in their original conception by the Grimm Brothers. So our fantasy-romance fairy tale told in technicolour by Disney back in 1937 really is not the only way the story exists. So I really like this thought put into the retelling of the story in Snow White on the Table. Just putting it all out on the table for us to see the story unfold.

ASSIGNMENT 1: MAX Magic Mirror

To see other Assignments:

Assignment 1: Magic Mirror  |  Assignment 2: Face Tracking  |  Assignment 3: Seflie Instructor  |   Assignment 4: Alpha Blending   |    Assignment 5:


Quite Satisfied with this first try at Max, would like learn more! So what I have achieved:

Sensing.

  • cvjit.faces detects when one at least one face appears on screen
  • Face size is calculated by the coordinates of the approximated perimeter given by cvjit.faces
  • cvjit.faces detects when the face is off-screen or there is no more faces

Effecting.

  • Mirror is inverted to the correct orientation
  • Opacity is triggered based on proximity
  • Screen will fade to black when no face is detected

 

The reason for the cutting to black when no faces are detected was because I wanted to eliminate the issue of screen flashing whenever the face is out of position as cv.jit.faces requires the user’s face to be very frontal else it will not register.

However I would also like to explore how to limit to only working when there is ONLY ONE face… that will be more trail and errors, will get to that sometime later.

 

Below is a video log for my own documentation of process, so I can review the thinking process behind the max patcher for this magic mirror assignment.

Cheers!


 

 

 

SHARING 3: Adapting Narratives for Interaction – Takahiro Matsuo’s Prince and Migrant Birds

Prince and Migrant Birds Interactive installation made by T. Matsuo in 2007.

 

Takahiro Matsuo’s work here is really very interesting. Bringing to life the story of the Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Viewers get to go into and be surrounded by the wonderment of that world. I read Little Prince many years back and that was a  version translated into Chinese. But just looking at the videos of the installation I can feel the magic and would certainly like to be in it. This is a way of introducing the interactivity into an existing narrative and expanding the world that is built around it so that the idea of “interactive narratives” can come across rather strong and appeal to both existing fans and people who are first at encountering the story. I think this adaptation is done very nicely and Matsuo’s work will be in my following list now.

 

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly what is essential is invisible to the eye”

The Little Prince

SHARING 2: Jeffrey Shaw’s The Legible City

Manhattan version (1989), Amsterdam version (1990), Karlsruhe version (1991), Computergraphic installation by Jeffery Shaw, with Dirk Groeneveld. Collection of ZKM-Medienmuseum, Karlsruhe, Germany.


This is a very exciting work by multi-media artist Jeffery Shaw. The interface is not foreign to any user, it is simply a bicycle. Hop on and cycle through Shaw’s world in the screen before you. From the video recordings of participants on YouTube, I can see that it kind of shows a cityscape while you are exploring, only that the buildings and infrastructure have been replaced with text.

Later on I found out that each of the cities named in the titles are what the participants are exploring. The artist has taken the actual maps of these cities and grafted them into his virtual reality, that is the texts we would see. We can read those and we can also listen to the narration that is going on. The Manhattan version features narration by President Trump. There are also monologues by ex-Mayor Koch, Frank Lloyd Wright, a tour guide, a confidence trickster, an ambassador and a taxi-driver.

The interface like I mentioned is very apparent and needs no explanation. What is interesting though is that you really need to put in the effort to cycle for it.  Every choice you make, your speed, direction as well as how you read the world, whether by text or through the audio, will become a highly spontaneous mixture of meanings and understandings. And in this cross-section of sensory experience, the user is faced with both the mundane and the historical.

That is what makes this a very meaningful and compelling form of “narrative interaction” and definitely make a significant note for my research on this topic. Although the experience will probably be heightened for a participant who have been to those cities or lived there. Simply because of the cultural interactivity that will transpire as a result of this sort of mapping that happens through the use of the contraption. So perhaps interactive narratives might require the artist to be more conscious of for whom he designs the experience for.

 

You may view Shaw’s work here on his website: http://www.jeffrey-shaw.net

 

SHARING 1: Maria Anwander – interaction through artistic intervention

I shared some works of Maria Anwander in class when we were trying to give some examples of what we think can be considered “interactive narratives”. However as I was giving it off-the-cuff, it kind of made me feel like I did not give a great example. Or that it might lack some relevance.

So just to recap: One of the works is The Kiss (2007) at MOMA. You can read about the intervention in the musuem label she put there. And you can also see her website here: http://www.maria-anwander.net/

Maria Anwander’s act of french kissing the exhibition wall at MOMA after she stuck the label. The old man contemplates the work as did all the other unsuspecting visitors to the gallery.


So my take on it was that Anwander’s work is one of intervention in a public space, in this case the MOMA in New York. What she does here is to make the work both a documentation of her performative act as well as that artistic presence she has left behind for the viewer. And it is through the backstory of this performance of surveying the area, planning out how to execute the action and eventually kissing the wall, we as a viewer are drawn to that simply because of the playfulness. As for the gallery-goer, he and many others are trying to interact with this new work. They might have their suspicions because it was uncatalogued or they might be just totally fixated in the encounter at hand.

And the other work is one about musuem labels she ‘borrowed’ or stole from various museums all over the world called My Favorite Art,  ongoing since 2004. Ongoing! In fact, I think museums are glad to let her steal from them.

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So what do I feel about the example I raised now? I think that I can see why it is quite hard to say that they are interactive. However I would still like to try again. In reference to my response on Eric Zimmerman’s text the Four Concepts, I would say that Anwander’s work affects me on a cultural level and I feel that I interact with the work in a cultural interaction. Some of these works I have seen, in their rightful place. Some I wish to see but have yet to visit those countries. So it is really more compelling to a specific audience, one that has knowledge of art history or has seen the images before. In the absence of the image, we still connect to the paintings simply because of our previous interactions with the works of art. The narrative behind it is also very appealing in the sense that she is breaking rules here. Stealing from museums to create her work. She is not taking away those art works (the originals) themselves, yet we feel that the works are transferred unto this wall we see.

I enjoy the play and intervention that Anwander does with her work. Perhaps this could be seeds for brainstorming a project in the course. I am not sure whether I have better explained it by writing this reflection out. But as Zimmerman pointed out, it is simply because we do not know how to explain that we are able to find a way to come out with a new type of “interactive narrative”. And I certainly hope to learn new ways.

REFLECTION 1: Some notes on Eric Zimmerman’s Four Concepts

Eric Zimmerman’s light-hearted attempt at unpacking and explaining the ideas and concepts surrounding the narrative and interactivity is indeed a great read. I personally am drawn to the text simply by his sense of humour. There is something playful about it. All about it in fact. And that makes reading an “interactive” experience in some sense; I feel like I have just had an interview with the guy. Of course, I am using the word “interactive” rather loosely here. Zimmerman will probably comment that is undesirably naughty.

This text is a great start to discussing about the concepts at hand. As opposed to simply being fixated on definitions, Zimmerman provides us with points of departure, from which we can let our imagination take flight. And let the game begin. I like that for each of the concepts (Narrative, Interactivity, Play and Games), he lists possible modes, categories, elements, attributes, avenues for us to explore how we might best grapple with this whole matrix of ideas. Through this whole process of becoming more aware of the media that we are dealing with, Zimmerman encourages a sort of excitement in searching for breakthroughs, or as he puts it himself “not to replicate existing forms but to invent new ones.”

Apart from opening up all these more theoretical and conceptual mappings of the concepts, Zimmerman also illustrates his points by raising a few great examples.

Chess, as the example of a game that simulates a two-player interaction and more of a cognitive interactivity in this battle of wits. But at the same time there is a narrative of war, heroes and playable characters, triumph in stratagem, albeit unconventional, yet there is a narrative structure there.

Pac-Man was another example which he employed to show us how even the most explicit interactivity can have sophistication in its use of narrative. This widely played arcade game is a story of life and death, the society at large with all these embedded into the game-play itself. And we recognize these things in a very integrated level through the playful connection with the Pac-Man character.

I feel that the reading will serve as a good guide in brain storming and conceptualizing ideas for interactive narratives. However, the conundrum of the mash-up of concepts continues to be daunting to me. And I would want to really take time to figure my way around a little. Where do I position myself within the whole process, as auteur, as facilitator or as a participant amongst the audience as well?

Also, there is this definition that Zimmerman offers us regarding Play. Wherein he says that play is freedom of choice within a fixed structure. Play exists because of the rules and constrains and in spite of them as well. Here, I find that either I do not understand it enough or I might need further exploration, as I am concerned about how to be convincing and compelling enough that this play will be able to take place within the systems I create.

In conclusion I think that Zimmerman was really trying to push for a certain kind of value in all these things and how we might exact pleasure from it. Pleasure from the media that is intrinsic to the media itself, differing from say a book or a film. I think his points will be good to negotiate this and find a way to start. I hope, though, for the ideas to form more organically and in a way not prioritizing or setting limits for any of these interconnected concepts.


“I think the key divide between the interactive media and the narrative media is the difficulty in opening up an emphatic pathway between the gamer and the character, as differentiated from the audience and the characters in a movie or a television show.”

Steven Spielberg