Great, ANOTHER narrative medium to keep track of

So it seems clear that multimedia networked novels a la Inanimate Alice and Flight Paths are somewhere between conventional text and conventional film–the question is, what does that statement mean? Damned if I know. Nevertheless, I shall strive manfully to unpack the implementable implications of this self evident truth. Last week Prof. Bianco told me that a hypertext author ‘surrenders control of navigation to the user,’ which I had on my mind while watching these thingamajigs. Broadly speaking, progression through a codex is completely at the discretion of the reader, who can fall asleep, skip pages, re-read chapters, go straight to the end end, etc. Contrasting this is film, whose pace/tempo/rhythm/whatever-you-wanna-call-it is completely controlled by the director/editor/you-get-my-drift. If the camera spends fifteen minutes watching paint dry, there’s not much you the viewer can do to. Did you miss Saito’s exposition dump under the roar of whirring helicopter blades? Tough cookies, the plot keeps moving. Existing between the extremes of operator-propelled text and self-propelled film, multimedia networked novels are able use aspects of both to more sensitively manipulate user reaction.

Smash cut! (pay no attention to the desperation behind the non sequitur)

One of the recurring lessons of this class is that proliferation of non-standardized digital mediums has given authors the ability to consciously customize the way their narratives are conveyed, not just the content contained within that narrative. The gestalt story experience of the user is therefore determined as much by the media’s format as its subject.

For example, take Inanimate Alice. It is fraught with non-textual mechanics for conveying characterization and atmosphere.  The the user’s partial control and multi-sensory stimuli allows them to more immediately experience the fact that Alice is a child, with incomplete comprehension of her environment that generates an internal emotional tension. As Alice grows older over the course of the project, the means of conveyance grow more complex in turn, reflecting Alice’s increasing cognitive maturity, which is in turn reflected in the games she makes. In Russia the mechanic of the hidden matroyshkas compels the reader to re-experience and re-scrutinize the events of the story, much as a real child would vividly retain the memory of such a frightening and traumatic event. Similarly, Alice’s Project in Hometown shows Alice using technology to internalize the China incident from earlier in her life while simultaneously more directly setting up the the conceit for the Inanimate Alice project as a whole. This conceit is that Inanimate Alice is Alice’s own autobiography, built using her increasingly sophisticated Player games. The developing theme is about the “technology augmented future” in which the development digital forms of expression is just as integral to a child’s maturation as interpersonal communication, until individual humans can almost be said to have psychological symbiotic relationships with technology–as anthropomorphically personified by Brad.

Smash cut!

Also in Hometown, the user must click on the screen before the progression arrow appears, thus non-textually conveying Alice’s tense hesitation and the conscious effort needed for her to move forward in the frightening environment (ha! I knew that rambling intro paragraph about pacing would pay off!).

P.S. although the my title is exasperated, I did find this week’s readings refreshingly linear. And maybe that Intro to Film class I took two years ago can be of use somehow.

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~ by Freddie on March 3, 2013.

2 Responses to “Great, ANOTHER narrative medium to keep track of”

  1. Freddie’s post has a specific “voice” or prose-style to it: it is very “conversational” in both his diction, organization, and his tendency to address the reader and henceforth call attention to his act of writing the post. Freddie uses words like “thingamajigs,” “damned,” “a la,” “whatever-you-want-to-call-it” and more.

    Freddie seemingly constantly calls attention to the fact that this is a post (a sort of loose prompt that he must write for). In the beginning, he asks “what does this statement mean?” as if even while beginning his post, he is unsure of what he is going to end up saying. In the end, he sort of congratulates himself in his “ha!” moment. This moment occurred within parenthetical, calling attention to itself as a sort of commentary or “aside” coming from the author.

    Not only does he call attention to himself as actively writing a post, but he also speaks directly to a reader. He commands them (playfully) in another parenthetical instance:”(pay no attention to the desperation behind the non sequitur).” Furthermore, while we can say that the “ha!” aside is a commentary on himself in the act of writing, it might also be a sort of “ha!” to the reader, like “take that!” or “See! I know what I’m doing!”

    The organization of his post is also sort of conversational with regards to the lack of transitions. The “smash cut!” is sort of an “out” for combining his ideas in a cohesive way–just like in conversation when ideas spill out of you verbally without some highly meticulous ordering (often tangential).

  2. kelsey hughes was the commentator^^ (er commenter)

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