Matt Adams

Playing With Reality

Matt Adams from Blast Theory will introduce two recent projects by Blast Theory that mix documentary, games and locative media. Ulrike and Eamon Compliant was first shown at the Venice Biennale. It invites participants to choose to be Ulrike Meinhof from the Red Army Faction or Eamon Collins of the IRA as they walk through the city.

A Machine To See With is a heist movie in which you play the lead. Both projects play fast and loose with the boundary between reality and fiction. They mix games, systems of representation and ethical decisions that exist within the work and in the real world simultaneously. Matt will consider the risks and rewards of this approach: why use real events in this way? What is documentary when its status as fact is so unstable?

Tina Bastajian

Traversing Topologies of Chance: Locative Contours and Documentary Fields

In this presentation I will navigate from a multi-sited position as artist, filmmaker and researcher through the processes, contingencies and reflections from our project Coffee Deposits: Topologies of Chance, co-authored with Dutch/Turkish artist Seda Manavoğlu. This iteration of the work is formed in an interactive environment (DVD-ROM), a hybrid between documentary forms and the ludic exploration of residual traces.

Coffee Deposits began as a charting of layers, movement and dwelling in Istanbul through the mode of mobile and ad-hoc Turkish coffee encounters. Our original schema was to apply in parallel, location aware gestures augmenting the street level mobile encounters with digital traces via geocaching, however increasingly, the project became less about reading coffee sediments or geocaching. I will discuss how our ‘logic of capture’ was reoriented, and instead the ambient mediums or phantom guides (coffee, divination and GPS strategies) became a trope in which to negotiate, articulate and speculate: multiple viewpoints and disorientations, sometimes via ironic and non-linear traversals within screen and street interfaces.

Our adventitious detours both technically and contextually led us to explore a topology of spaces, unpredictable and rapidly shifting urban patterns and disparate stories and accounts by those who inhabit, walk, dwell, witness, work and protest in the city. And while GPS traces were originally to be used as tangential offshoots (narrative, illustrative, statistical) and a documentation strategy in the final output, we also wanted to underscore our own ambivalences with the technology. Conversely, through the editing and navigational design process the interplay between documentary forms and cross/trans media tactics nuanced these ambivalences in unexpected ways.

In conclusion, I will introduce a sampling of our locative “postscripts” in the form of geocaching that we are developing to extend an iteration of the project into public space.

Go to the project website and blog or take a trip through the ‘belly of istanbul’….

Roderick Coover

CANYONLANDS and Spatial Models in Documentary Media Arts

This paper is in two parts. In the first part, presents the interactive documentary, CANYONLANDS: Edward Abbey in the Great American Desert, along with a discussion about spatial models of idocs, in which users make paths in virtual landscapes, and data-based models, such as those in which users select from menus.

CANYONLANDS is a digital, cross-disciplinary interactive documentary. Viewers/Users arrive in a desert American West in the 1950. They follow in the footsteps of the novelist and essayist, Edward Abbey to discover a world in transformation. The fragile desert ecosystem is being overturned through dam-building, road-building, mining, industry and tourism to support the growth of the cities of the American West. In examining techniques used in CANYONLANDS, special attention is given to how differing kinds of collective representations (diaries, maps, photographs, films) can be examined using a spatial interface.  The paper asks what happens when differing documentary methods and media (film, photo, panorama, voice) are presented side-by-side on a common platform.

The second half of the paper addresses broader concerns about relationships between spatial interface, narrative and argument. This section considers how differing models of interactive cinema can advance user agency, choice-making and collaboration. Additional examples are drawn from fields of art, film, and electronic literature; this includes a discussion of works by Jeffrey Shaw and The Labyrinth Project among others. This section looks for ways to resolve structural questions of how to retain cohesion and develop arguments or perspectives, while also encouraging a diversity of opinions and choices. The paper concludes by considering what interdisciplinarity might mean, or might become, in the context of digital visual research and interactive documentary production.

Take a look at CANYONLANDS here

Sharon Daniel

Database Documentary: Public Secrets and Blood Sugar

This paper will present two database-driven new media documentaries, Public Secrets and Blood Sugar, as case studies of alternative media activism.

Through Public Secrets incarcerated women reveal the secret injustices of the Criminal Justice System and the Prison Industrial Complex, while Blood Sugar examines the social and political construction of poverty, alienation, and addiction in American society through the eyes of those who live it. These works create a context in which socio-economically marginalized groups represent themselves on the internet and, thus, participate in and shape the public discourse around the social conditions and material circumstances they face on a daily basis.

Public Secrets and Blood Sugar represent the first half of a series of works that are the result of a sustained collaboration with human rights organization, Justice Now, the HIV Education and Prevention Program of Alameda County), 18 homeless injection drug users, and 20 women incarcerated at the largest female correctional facility in the United States. For both of these groups, injection drug users living outside the norms of society in the shadow of the criminal justice system and women trapped inside the prison system, their recorded statements are acts of juridical and political testimony. Public Secrets and Blood Sugar bring their voices into dialogue with other, legal, political and social theorists. The paper will address how these two new media documentaries transcend the boundaries between art and political activism by engaging the question, “what can art do?” in relation to some of our most troubling social problems.

View the projects online at Public Secrets and Blood Sugar

Peter Dukes

Make Do and Mend: Found footage filmmaking as a model for interactive documentary practice

One of the prominent features of interactive documentary is a concern to avoid editorial closure, and instead to convey that responsibility to the users. To achieve this it seems that many interactive documentaries employ an ecology of material, presenting it to the user variously as raw matter, or in part-baked form, certainly available for use and re-use, potentially also open to contributions and additions.

This offers the user – conventionally for interactive media – a role as a co-creator, but specifically as a co-creator who must gather, evaluate and then use the materials available, for ends only partly determined by the designer-author of the work. This user will be made conscious that any experience of the work is provisional, only one possible outcome, and certainly not definitive.

Such a user has much in common with the practitioners of found and reused material – Bruce Conner, Dara Birnbaum, the scratch video movement and others, part of the lineage of modernism into postmodernism, from cubism and Schwitters through Duchamp to Burroughs and sampling culture. Their lesson is also that any material is raw material, or can once again be made to be so (no matter how much it has been ‘refined’ through any previous production process). As Nichols tells us, all such material – whether from fiction films, documentaries, advertising, home movies etc – carries traces of actuality in that it is always a document of its original context. The found footage filmmaker works as in an archive or storehouse, and such work will always convey a sense of being provisional.

Therefore, have the histories of found footage filmmaking anything to tell us about the potential and practices of interactive documentary? Are there useful parallels to be found through such a study?

Arnau Gifreu

The Interactive Multimedia Documentary: towards a proposed definition and categorization of a new emerging genre

The purpose of this communication is to present a state of affairs on the lines of convergence between the fields of documentary and interactive digital media. It argues a proposed definition of new emerging genre, which here is called “interactive multimedia documentary,” in contrast with the logic of creation and production of linear documentaries.

In a way, there is a principle of fusion from a mutual attraction, the documentary brings their different modes of representation of reality and digital media, new forms of navigation and interaction. This is a novel genre resulting from a double hybridization: between audiovisual -documentaries- and interaction -interactive digital media- and among information -content- and entertainment -navigable interface.

One of the basic premises of traditional documentary is the intention to organize a story so that is, at the same time, informative and entertaining. This is possible, in interactive media, thanks to the combination of different modes of navigation, interaction and the application, which allows multiple exchanges between the work and the user. The communication also provides a taxonomy of the main features of the new gender from three points of view, namely, the director, the text and the interactor.

In conclusion we propose some considerations on the future development of the new genre and analyze different study cases produced at the University of Vic (Spain).

Christopher Hales

Examining the Interactive Documentary Film

The interactive documentary film is by no means a recent phenomenon and dates back to the invention of Laserdisk technology in the late 1970s and the groundbreaking ‘Aspen Movie Map’. Many related projects followed on from this one, based on a geographical metaphor as the means of accessing and understanding the video content. In the 1990s the MIT Medialab’s Interactive Cinema group created numerous documentary projects such as ‘Contour’ that explored the potential of using databases, metadata and cataloguing systems to permit various readings of documentary material. Other interesting areas of development have occurred in new media art installations in which a variety of novel physical interfaces are used to acess the video sequences, and in the crossover with gaming whereby ‘playing’ the project enables its documentary video sequences to be revealed.

Since the 1990s the author has created his own interactive video films and taught over a hundred hands-on workshops on the same theme, from which numerous examples of interactive documentary films have emerged. As well as presenting a brief historical background, this paper will present some of these workshop-made projects and show how they tend to fit into geographical, database, physical interface, and gaming categories.

Laurence Hall

The Great Primate Handshake: Can Digital Media be Used to Affect Change?

This presentation will explore the idea of affecting positive change through the creation and use of digital media.

The investigation presented examines the practical element of my research and business project, The Great Primate Handshake, which has the key aim of raising awareness of primate conservation and associated issues through the production of digital media. The Great Primate Handshake, brings participants from across the globe to collaborate in the production of digital media ‘tools’, filmmaking, web/graphic design, journalistic practices and so on, with a overall aim of enhancing understanding and knowledge relating to conservation issues. My research examines the term ‘change’ and the debates surrounding both the meaning of the term and what constitutes actual change. The definition of what ‘digital media’ is; how it is used; by who and why; along with how this impacts on both the ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ world, is focused upon heavily in relation to societal impacts in terms of education and development.

Drawing on the ideas from philosophers such as William Ogburn, to media theorists as Marshal McLuhan, it is Chris Mortensen’s definition of change as ‘difference’, which I draw comparisons with. I have approached the research from a practical viewpoint, having also focused on the work of other practitioners who are aiming to create change through using digital tools, from the Wii-Mote Whiteboard to OLPC’s XO laptop.

The Great Primate Handshake is not just a research experiment created in order to affect change; it needed to be a project of a sustainable business. Handshake Productions CIC was created to achieve this, the development process is highlighted through the examination of original documents, such as the business plan and other promotional items used in the development process.

Ultimately, I note that a change in outlook and understanding of the direct participants has taken place, and whilst thousands have viewed the projects content, it is difficult to measure and comprehend its impact.

Kerric Harvey

New Documentary Forms and Digital Drama for Conflict Transformation

1. The 24-Picture Day Project enhances understanding across cultural or political divides by using mobile phone cameras to let people on both sides of a conflict experience each other’s point of view through visual media. Participants use their cell phone cameras to snap one picture per hour, on the hour. They then they send the entire 24-image archive, in sequence, to their partner on the other side of the conflict divide, unadorned with any explanation or narrative material. The receiver then titles each image and sends it back to the originator. Dialogue then generates around the different ways in which each of the iterative partners “saw” the same material.

2. The Twitter Political Poetry Project uses the arts to explore political experience via social media during the 2010 U.S. election. I issued a public invitation for any one who so desired to share their election thoughts and feelings, hopes, fears, reflections and surprises about this watershed political event. These “twitter poems,” were then turned into: 1) a live dramatic performance of the Twitter material as it was re-worked into a short play by the lead author, and 2) an online “iterative documentary” multi-media program combing photographs, video, and audio supporting the Twitter election poems.

3. Alternative Reality Gaming Based  documentaries introduce a third interactive enterprise that expands the idea of the interactive documentary into a real time, immersive experience based on the Alternative Reality Gaming model. Participants utilize all forms of social media—Twitter, mobile phones, FaceBook, text-messaging, e-mail, and so on – to move through a semi-scripted “storyline” which in which they are “competing” and “cooperating” with other players” to achieve a goal. I am working on an ARG experience built around environmental and ecological issues.

Ingi Helgason, Jay Bradley, Callum Egan

This Pervasive Day: Design and Development Case Study

This presentation will describe the development process, and the underpinning rationale, behind a multi-format, interactive exhibition and online documentary. This project, to be presented at the Edinburgh International Science Festival and the Science Museum in London in Spring 2011, is part of the EU funded PerAda project’s programme of outreach work. Focussing on potential near-future scenarios, inspired by current research that is going on across Europe, the documentary will be delivered through a website; mobile device location-aware applications with augmented reality content; social networking; and interactive installations of advanced technologies. The documentary is supporting a popular science book “This Pervasive Day” to be published in 2011 by Imperial College Press.

People are both fascinated and alarmed by the idea of computers being able to read, and act upon, their thoughts, feelings and actions. We are now entering a world where the miniaturisation of devices is converging with a massive increase in computing power. This interactive documentary will examine the social and cultural implications of living in a fully connected world, and will encourage people to make informed comment on the future of pervasive, adaptive computing.

The PerAda project deals with research into the high-tech subject of pervasive adaptation in computing, a complex subject, but one that has far reaching implications for society and individuals. As such it is a rich source of material for documentary making. However, while the project team is aiming to increase public knowledge and understanding of this domain, it is also important for scientists to be aware of public attitudes towards the potential applications of their research. For this reason the team has decided to create an activity-based interactive exhibition, alongside a highly visual and game-like website to engage people deeply with the subject, as well as providing a means to elicit and record their opinions in an entertaining manner.

Amir Husak

Dayton Express: Bosnian Railroads and the Paradox of Integration

At a time when the past, like a repressed memory, returns to haunt the politics of present, creative uses of media may become more important than ever as a means of opening up the borders of memory which resurgent nationalisms seek to barricade. (Tessa Morris-Suzuki, 2004)

Dayton Express: Bosnian Railroads and the Paradox of Integration is an interactive documentary designed as a space for the examination of nationalist partition in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Combining video, stills, text and audio, the project uses the country’s railway system as a metaphor for social disintegration and the problems of reconciliation. It freely creates narrative lines by incorporating biography, autobiography, history, poetry, photography, and fiction.

The project explores specific issues without establishing a hypothesis or proposing an outcome. It employs mixed methods to come up with creative alternatives to traditional or more monolithic ways of understanding and addressing a set of issues. In this case, the results from one method shape subsequent methods or steps in the production process. The interface is designed to provide enough room for users to apply their own methodology of interaction and knowledge gathering.

The first rendition of Dayton Express was completed in May of 2009 as my project thesis for an MA in Media Studies at The New School in New York. As I continue with the development, my objective is to present the project website and discuss complex negotiation of the country’s lived physical space versus virtual space as an alternative domain for political and historical discourses. I am especially interested in interactive models that can streamline archival and explorative functions of my project.

A short video introduction to the project can be found at daytonexpress.org

Brigitte Kaltenbacher

Research and evaluation methods in interdisciplinary participatory digital culture

“Interactivity is a property of technology, while participation is a property of culture.” – Henry Jenkins

The emerging interdisciplinary digital landscape blurs the boundaries between HCI, CSCW and other digital media design domains. Instead of the traditional task oriented machine-human relation, User experience (UX) researchers now use and evaluate a variety of digital interaction scenarios such as social media, game experiences, collaborative, ubiquitous and convergent media, and even digital art. Particularly digital cinematic experiences, such as 3D movies, animations and games set high standards in terms of shared public experiences when it comes to engagement, inter¬action design and execution. Consequently users, participants and consumers have developed not only into discerning recipients, but also competent co-creators . At the same time, conservative new media participation persists; creating fragmented – and therefore unpredictable – consumer audiences (users, participants, etc). The fragmentation continues on the technical front: There are platform and browser variations, differing internet access in regards to speed and capacity, screen sizes and resolutions, and input – output devices, to name a few.

In summary, the evaluation of digital interactive artefacts breaks down into perceptive and cultural and technical issues. Both, media theorists and HCI researchers have commented on the fractious duality of control and content interfaces . Lev Manovich argues that cultural interfaces (collapsed content and control interfaces, B.K.) walk an un-easy path between the control provided in the general purpose HCI and an ‘immersive’ experience of traditional cultural objects such as games and movies (2001, p.95). Consequently, progressive HCI theorists investigate innovative and participatory UCD (User Centered Design) methodologies, drawing on social science, such as Participatory Methods (Muller 2003), and exploratory and playful interactions, e.g. Bill Gaver’s Cultural Probes and Ludic Design (1999 & 2004).

Thus, my presentation addresses both cultural and technical issues in UX evaluations. As for technical issues I cover basics, such as UAT (User Acceptance Testing), ‘quick and dirty’ testing and heuristics. These methods answer questions regarding the control part of the interfaces: can the users find all interaction and navigation elements and work them appropriately, and do they find them easy to use. I briefly cover purely technical testing methods such as graceful degrading, cross platform and browser testing, load testing and robustness (pen testing). Further¬more, methods will be distinguished insofar they are suitable for task and /or immersive evaluations. Progressive methods will help to deal with the cultural aspects of the UX, beyond mere usability. I will discuss participatory and embodied design methodologies (for example body storming), including the ideas of emergent and unpredictable user interaction behaviour based on the work of Marcia Bates (1989 & 2001).

Paul Matthews

Memories from the Blue Nile: temporal juxtaposition and database-driven documentary

This paper will present research relating using a multimedia collection from Eastern Sudan collected in several periods from the 1960’s to the present day by Oxford anthropologist Wendy James.  The collection tracks the Uduk community from their roots, through displacement and refugee status due to civil war, to repatriation and international dispersal.

Previous work with this rich and varied archive has highlighted the potential for temporal and spatial juxtaposition of media to illustrate both the continuity and adaptation of the Uduk culture. The current work is aiming to take this further by establishing the underlying information architecture and new interface technology to enable the flexible creation of juxtapositions and to grant the user control over the provision of context and narrative.

Florian Mundhenke

Different Views – Authenticity and Experience in New Documentary Forms

Since the consolidation of the ‘mockumentary’ form within mainstream filmmaking between Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez, 1999) and Borat (Larry Charles, 2006), this term is debated among film theorists. While the mockumentary – as in the definition by Jane Roscoe and Craig Hight – uses a documentary aesthetic to present fictitious events and persons, there is evidently also a trend to utilise fictional representation techniques to render real events, called either ‘Docu Drama’, or ‘Drama-Doc’. These ‘Docu-Hybrids’- as it should be labeled here – use certain strategies to soften or alter the ‘discourse of sobriety’ as Bill Nichols coined the account employed by the traditional documentary format, which tries to bring forward an argument in full clarity and explicitness. This paper wants to propose, that this kind of oration is broken up by new discourses established by the Docu-Hybrids; these techniques can be as diverse as subjective reality construction (from Tarnation, Jonathan Caouette, 1996, to TV Junkie, Matt Radecki, 2006), using uncommon forms like a humourous viewpoint (Cane Toads, Mark Lewis, 1988) or distancing techniques like collage (Atomic Cafe, Jane Loader, Pierce and Kevin Rafferty, 1982), animation (Waltz with Bashir, Ari Folman, 2006) or essayist/experimental strategies (Tom, Mike Hoolboom, 2004). Other experiments try to activate the audience directly with forms of interactivity (like the TV, then Web-Doc Prison Valley, Philippe Brault, David Dufresne, 2009), where not only genres tend to integrate, but also forms of media production and usage.

In these examples the two most important propositions of documentary filmmaking are challenged: the access to and presentation of authentic material and the intention of showing some kind of “truth“. Audiences are confused about their reaction to these films; often an active viewing and a subjective interpretation of the images shown is required. The experiences made are singular and authenticity can only be gained on occasion with an amount of investment and willingness to participation. This contribution wants to present an overview about strategies of disintegration of the traditional documentary form and the employment of new and interactive methods for presenting the real. Furthermore, it will give an evaluation of modes of reaction and acknowledgment for an audience that increasingly needs to gain a wider and different understanding of media usage and comprehension through this hybridization of modes and techniques.

Siobhan O’Flynn & Faisal Anwar

‘Making Public(s): Web 2.0 documentaries and social activism’

The shift to digital, web-based documentaries means more than a structural change in design from linear, authored film to non-linear interactive experience, as the affordances of Web 2.0 platforms are now impacting everything from how content is generated to ethical questions that arise in the positioning of participatory documentaries as community hubs. Increasingly, in creating the narrative frameworks for participatory/collaborative documentaries directors and producers act as curators of audience generated content and often, as deliberate catalysts for social activism. And while these aspects have been present in traditional documentary filmmaking, the opportunity for an immediate dialogue and exchange with and between a global audience via Web 2.0 platforms is unprecedented.

Our proposed panel explores the potential and challenges of interactive and collaborative documentary filmmaking, bringing together three director/producers, Kat Cizek (Highrise/Out My Window; NFB), Faisal Anwar (Oddspaces/I Miss Pakistan; newKulture) and Siobhan O’Flynn (Oddspaces; newKulture).  The works of these director/producers have engaged with these concerns in various ways, exploring new modes of navigation, models of collaboration, physical interactive documentary installations, and the possibilities of grassroots activism. Arjun Appadurai has argued that the individual actor is the last locus & navigator of the ethno, media, techno, finance, and ideoscapes that characterize our globalized world and by giving voice and a public place to individuals and communities often not recognized in larger social spheres or not visible to a global audience, Web 2.0 documentaries create opportunities for what Appadurai has termed a grassroots globalization or ‘globalization from below.‘ This potential to is evident in what Thomas Mai has termed the ‘fandependent’ strategies manifest in many Web 2.0 documentaries that are designed to build ongoing digital communities often around a common experience. Our panel will critically explore these new digital cinematic and social practices.

Paco de Onis & Pamela Yates

Granito: Every Memory Matters

Granito: Every Memory Matters (GEMM) is a project of Skylight Pictures designed to augment the social impact of feature-length documentary “Granito” (2011 release).  GEMM will implement a multiplatform approach to restore the collective memory of the Guatemalan people, both in Guatemala and amongst the 1.3 million Guatemalans living in the diaspora, mostly in the U.S.  The only country of the Americas to suffer a genocide in the 20th century, Guatemala now suffers from el olvido, a purposeful forgetting of those tragic years which bolsters the culture of impunity that reigns in the country today.

We were inspired to create GEMM during the filming of “Granito” in Guatemala this past year.  While there on several occasions we screened its prequel, When the Mountains Tremble, filmed by Skylight Pictures in 1982 at the height of the violence.  When the Mountains Tremble, banned in Guatemala upon its 1983 release, tells an emblematic story about the genocide, and was a dramatic eye-opener for viewers.  Discussions that followed screenings were emotional and gripping. For elders, the film acted as a memory trigger, moving them to break decades of silence to share their stories of the genocide.  For youth, seeing the film and hearing the stories for the first time, you could almost see the dark clouds of “el olvido” lifting from their eyes as their history was revealed. What if we provided the tools and platforms to engage Guatemalan youth (70% of the population is under 30) with their elders to expand on what we witnessed at the screenings?  GEMM will push back on el olvido by harnessing the power of the crowd, facilitating an intergenerational exchange that will awaken the collective memory of Guatemala and make it available in a public archive.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/16498850 w=500&h=400]

Martin Rieser

Landscapes as Documentary

This covers five separate works which deal with information in the field using a combination of authored and user-generated content. The projects  deal with documentary related to landscape, starting with literary deconstruction in the Landscape, namely The Crow Road which articulated the relationship between the imaginary landscape of Ian Bank’s novel of that name and the real landscape of the Western highlands of Scotland using located rich media. A related project which is nearing completion is a locative version of the DH Lawrence Blue Line Trail which uses GPS to augment a walking visit to Eastwood relating the urban  landscape to specific scenes in Lawrence’s early writing, but also augmenting materials with submissions from scholars, local historians and enthusiasts. The third project is Starshed, an early attempt to map stories and instances of the uncanny across a whole city using online and mobile public submissions. The fourth project Songlines maps a city using the knowledge of crowds and folksonomies of travel reporting by augmenting cycling and walking trails in Leicester with GPS based waymarking through user’s online submissions both as reportage and artwork. The final project is Riverains which uses rich media on smartphones to dig into historical layers below the city surface and was featured at the Illumini Festival in Shoreditch, dealing with the specific histories of the street ranging across early Shakespeare, Plague histories, Jack the Ripper, the Suffragettes and migration stories.

Nina Simoes

Transmedia Storytelling: Immersive and Participatory Stories

This paper will examine how the transmedia storytelling approach is being used by a new generation of filmmakers. My argument is that it’s laying new ground for filmmakers to create more immersive and participatory stories.

It is perhaps not surprising that filmmakers, visual artists and game designers are increasingly interested in learning and applying the transmedia approach to their projects. The way filmmakers produce their work is undergoing radical changes and the old rules of the documentary world are becoming obsolete. Instead of a fixed linear narrative, transmedia storytelling offers no boundaries to explore our complex reality. Decentralized authorship, extended stories (sometimes based on plots and clues), multiple entry points into the story universe and active participants are the main principles of this new territory. Transmedia storytelling means that once the storyworld is defined, important parts of it will be seen, played or experienced through distinct platforms. For audiences to obtain the complete story, they have to follow it through these various different forms. Henry Jenkins, who coined the term, explains it as a ‘hunting and gathering process’ which will lead active participants to navigate through distinct media.

To demonstrate the complexity of transmedia models, I will present and deconstruct a number of projects, including Farewell Comrades, Collapsus and the forthcoming Fragments of Parenthood. In all these projects interdiscisplinary collaboration was essential for filmmakers to explore new narrative formats, new genres of animation, fiction and game. However, although transmedia architecture offers filmmakers possibilities to work with a hybrid approach, it is important to remember that without a strong story we will not get audience immersion or engagement. I will ask: If the story is what matters, why should filmmakers invest their time and money to learn and develop a transmedia storytelling project?

Florian Thalhofer

How Linear Film Made Me Lie

In the first public Korsakow-workshop in 2001, teaching how to create nonlinear film using the Korsakow-software, a participant said: “What are we doing – we are creating a monster!” The person thought that if the author of a film gives up some control over the story, the film could go berserk and tell what ever it wants to tell.

The Galata bridge in Istanbul is a cosmos unto itself. Between shops, restaurants and inrushes of tourists we meet people for whom the bridge is home, hope and purpose in life. Together with the documentary film maker Berke Baş I spent two months on the bridge.

Over the years I’ve made many Korsakow-films. In 2010 I made my first linear film (accompanied by a Korsakow-film). Making a linear documentary is a paradox process. To me it felt like trying to squeeze reality into a form that only allows one way to view things. This is not how I perceive the world. I was working on the linear- and the Korsakow-film at the same time and I learned:

It is the other way around – it is the linear film that is the monster. The film forced me to cut down the number of possible truths to as few as possible and I had to invent stuff, to make things more convincing. I have to admit: I like to make up stuff – I love to lie – I loved making this linear film. The result is of course not a documentary – it is a fairy tale.

Christian Wach

The Ball – An adventure into activism, interaction and interactivity

Across the entire world one sport is understood in every language and requires no translation: it is football. But what is the spirit of the world’s number one sport that helps it transcend cultures? Can one single ball, spherical like the earth, accurately portray this spirit? And through what medium or combination of media can that spirit best be portrayed?

The Ball began with an epic journey across Europe and Asia to the 2002 FIFA World Cup and another journey to Germany in 2006. In 2010, The Ball undertook its most ambitious journey yet: a 32–country pilgrimage from London to South Africa in partnership with Special Olympics, during which it was kicked, headed and signed by more than 10,000 people. Millions more were introduced to the story and its message by the press and other news media. The Ball kicks off on the next adventure on 9th January 2014, the exact 150th anniversary of the first game to FA rules.

Each journey is, of course, an adventure into the physical world (and a celebration of interaction within it) but it is also an adventure into the world of interactive media. From it’s inception as one of the world’s first videoblogs to current plans for distributed participatory narrative design, The Ball has implemented new storytelling techniques as they appear on the narrative landscape. This, therefore, is not just the story of a project, but also the story of an emerging medium.

With both success and failure in this emergent landscape, The Ball has taught us much about the strengths and weaknesses of those narrative techniques and the curious relationships between activism, interaction and interactivity. We’d like to share these insights with you.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/14465832 w=500&h=400]

Annette Wagner

Squeeze me! – Can cuddling robots be therapists?

An interactive excursion into advanced dementia therapy

This German crossmedia project started off as a 52-min-documentary for the arte science-slot, following the traces of the controversial therapeutic seal Paro. This Japanese Emotional robot is revolutionizing the treatment of elderly people suffering from dementia. The film gives insight into its nature and mode of action – and into elderly people’s longing for emotional care.

As the interactive features of Emotional robot Paro are decisive for its therapeutic success, an Interactive Webplatform soon seemed a) most adequate to the subject and b) a chance to get a younger audience involved. “Squeeze me!” became a fotorealistic point-and-click-adventure that emotionally draws into the world of dementia patients: First, the players experience their loneliness and need for companionship. Then they see, sense and test the healing effect of the ›cuddly seal‹, but also uncover its dangers. An entertaining and touching combination of authentic photography and documentary film clips with Video-Q&As by experts from robotics to ethics – embedded in a 2-D-world.

Learning by playing the users find their personal answers to questions like: What’s good and what’s questionable about co-therapist Paro? How will it change society to live with ›subject-simulating creatures‹? The robotic protagonist questions our idea of a contemporary dementia therapy. A touching, at the same time provoking game empowering the audience – scientifically substantiated – to answer the final question: Would I give a therapeutic pet to my mother if she suffered from dementia?

During our shooting period, nurses and relatives confronted with Paro as well as the director and the occupational therapist of the carehome report on the Facebook-page Paro in Bremen. Thus Web 2.0 triggers a social debate about a dignified and tender dawn of life within a rapidly aging society within the city. The Facebook-debate soon started to break down hierarchies within the nursing home…