Category: READINGS

reading week 9

this week’s reading is in the form of what it’s attempting to describe, a collage. there’s little seemingly unrelated snippets all about form and writing. here’s a couple things that stood out of for me (I’m not going to lie, it was kind of hard to have anything stick when there’s so many little points) –

-that not everything in story has to ‘happen for a reason’ or pertain to causality
-shields suggests reading a book backwards to not get caught up in its structure (which seems a bit silly if the book was intentionally written with a clear structure and flow to begin with)
-shields seems to hate plot. plot is mentioned several times and condemned (also hates quotes, to quote shield, 353: “I hate quotations”)
-that ‘mosaic’ fiction is an evolution from narrative fiction
-shields believes that the act of ‘editing’ is the key to postmodernism
-shield affirms that ‘nothing is going to happen in this book’.. okay this is what really bothers me about the type of work we are doing. sometimes the key function of fiction (linear, non-linear, post modern, database, whatever form it is in) is purely to entertain it’s audience. audiences enter fictional worlds to escape the ones that they are in and to be sucked into a different universe. it seems completely underwhelming to an audience to be reading a story or work where nothing progresses or ‘happens’. you can’t get lost in a work that doesn’t have some sort of progression, it’s not entertaining to read a story where nothing happens. this sort of work comes across as extremely pretentious and self-gratifying for this reason. sure it can be entertaining piecing together the parts on your own or the parts in themselves can be entertaining separately but if you’re writing without the audience’s entertainment in mind (to some degree) and you’re hell bent on disappointing them with nothingness and lack of progression from the get go then it’s almost like saying “hey man, I don’t even really want you to read this, I’m just writing this to stroke my own ego”.



reading week 8

poetic form is about openness, abstraction, ambivalence

aesthetic encounter is the primary means of expression

the spectator is able to to create relationships between non-linear segments

components are gathered and assembled in a logic that can be thematic, topical or based on place but there still remains a loose relationship between the parts

each new part adds to the overall understanding or concept but the narrative will always still lack closure or completeness

montage gives rise to new meanings out of the combination of smaller segments



week 7 reading

speculates how long web-based documentaries will be functional and viewable

relies on software and applications such as adobe flash which is reliant on continued investment of adobe > if adobe pulls out these projects will no longer function

key films in cinematic history will still be available in many formats, it is not likely that digital interactive narratives will be however

korsakow films are self contained and they don’t rely on links out or other media outside the film itself > can’t link out to youtube or embed videos from other links into a korsakow

korsakow films are never really ‘finished’

non-linear or multilinear narrative must be build from smaller, discrete components that will be collectively viewed in sequences

SNU’s are considered to be ‘units of narrative’

SNUs are not connected together with fixed paths


week 6 reading

the essay film rests between fiction and non fiction cinema

an essay is neither fiction nor fact

indeterminate, open and indefinable

reflectivity and subjectivity

unlike the documentary film which prevents fact and information, essay film produces complex thought (at times not grounded in reality, can be contradictory, fantastic)


meeting point between intellect and emotion

film essays originated from documentary and documentary forms (cinema verite for one)

Phillip Lopate : we must distinguish from a reflective self conscious style and a truly essayistic one > an essay film must have words (either text spoken subtitled or intertitled) which represents a single voice, text must represent and attempt to work out some reasoned line of discourse on a problem, text must impart more than information, readers must be included in a conversation, follow a mental process of contradiction and digression

Timothy Corrigan: usually a short documentary subject, lack of dominant narrative organisation, interaction of a personal voice or vision, interaction of subjective perspective

Michael Renov : descriptive and reflexive modalities are coupled, subjectivity and reflexivity are the staples of the essay film


week 5 reading

this weeks readings give us an idea of what can be defined as a narrative and similarly what cannot be defined as a narrative, as adrian wrote in the post about the readings it’s interesting to note where the type of interactive documentaries we are making in this course sit. it also made me think about documentaries in general and crossed over to work we are doing in another subject about how much of a ‘documentary’ is fictional, constructed (or purposefully ‘narrative’ driven, which makes the authenticity questionable). if you make an interactive documentary, for example, about a character or subject that is: in the current world, situated in time, with intelligent mental life, affected by causality and has clear goals or desires that propel the story forward, does this not completely satisfy ryan’s criteria for what can be classed as a narrative? it is possible for documentary to be narrative, therefore it is also possible for interactive documentaries to be narrative if they meet some of the criteria. I wonder, however, if an interactive documentary may still be classed as an interactive documentary if it is strongly narrative based, or if it becomes classified as something else… the question I pose is do interactive narratives have a specific criteria that they must meet to become an ‘interactive’ documentary (like there is criteria in this weeks readings as to what is a narrative and what isn’t a narrative) as opposed to falling into becoming just a narrative, a website, a database or a documentary?

here’s some notes on ryan:

Marie-laure Ryan: Avators of Story

“narratives” are now defined in a multitude of different ways and most definitions traditionally relate to textual actualisation of a story

because transmedial narratives cannot be defined verbally this poses a problem

ryan has proposed the conditions of ‘narrative’ into these dimensions-

1. spatial dimension (story must be about a world populated by individuated existents)
2. temporal dimension (story must be situated in time and undergo significant transformations, transformations must be caused by non habitual physical events)
3. mental dimension (participants in events must be intelligent agents with mental life who react emotionally to the states of the world they inhabit, some events must be actions by these agents/characters and motivated by identifiable goals)
4. formal and pragmatic dimension (evidence of causality, events asserted as ‘fact’, story must have meaning)

ryan concludes that definition of what or what isn’t a narrative is ultimately in the hands of the reader and that the reader embeds their own meaning (or lack of meaning) into a text


week 4 readings

As I have already read (and written) the chapters from Bordwell and Thompson that were listed for this weeks readings I went through and skim read my notes and found the most relevant ones to this course. I’ve written so much on narrative form and structure in the past that I really don’t see any benefit from rehashing that all over again, so instead I decided to focus on the chapters about documentary. The notes I’d written on documentary as a form in itself helps to understand the fundamentals of documentary making before we can then go and challenge this form in making interactive documentaries and other forms which we are engaging with for integrated media.

While documentary typically presents factual information about its subject matter, there are techniques used in documentary making which are ‘staged’. While most events filmed are candid and the opinions presented are verbatim, there is a school within documentary who ‘re-enact’ or recreate events for artistic or visual enhancement. The process of editing a documentary, or choosing which parts of captured footage are presented also, in a way, detracts from this ‘truthfulness’ of the information presented. It is impossible to be entirely objective when capturing a documentary, as obviously the information presented must go through a culling process, and the filmmaker chooses only the material which will further the point they are trying to make. When capturing ‘real life’ such as a person carrying out daily activities, there is some debate as to whether this is real or constructed, as the presence of a camera and a director means that to some degree this ‘daily activity’ has already become altered – if a film maker asks the subject to go about their daily routine, this is still constructed as the subject becomes aware that this is being documented. Observational documentary is different as the film maker does not become involved in the action or instigate action happening, they have no control over the events being presented and merely observe from afar; often the subject does not know that they are being filmed. However, in the editing process some ‘truth’ in observational documentary also becomes subjective. There are many different techniques within documentary which inform genres of documentary – interview style, compilation of archival sources, direct-cinema and nature documentary. A documentary may be organised as a narrative to captivate its audience, using categorical form to form patterns within the information presented and employing formal patterning. Rhetorical form is used when a filmmaker desires to form an argument, and the information is categorised similar to an essay, where the information forms a logical flow in terms of an argument.

week 2 reading

Interactive documentary: setting the field

– i-docs are defined as any project which attempts to document the ‘real’
– definition provided in reading deliberately does not mention mode or ‘delivery mechanism’
– ‘interactivity’ relates to how the user must involve themselves in some way or participate in the digital artefact and experience the artefacts ‘reality’
– interactive bond between reality, the user and the artefact
– four interactive modes: the conversational, the hypertext, experiential and participative
– conversational: it positions the user to be ‘in conversation’ with the computer, experience or simulate a world where the user has the illusion of navigating freely (used in video games)
– hypertext: allows the user to follow links within a closed video archive in an exploratory role, ‘click here, go there’
– participational: the user can participate directly in the production of the documentary (being allowed to edit or shoot for example), the director ‘stages a conversation’ with a user, ever open and evolving database
– experiential: allow user to experience “hybrid space”, very reliant on the users environment, directly related to what the users is experiencing and allows them to experience another version or challenge their senses of or ideas about an environment or space
– authorship has become an issue due to the high level of interactivity and user involvement
–  multi-platform projects with an interactive counterpart arise from a need to keep younger generations involved and engaged, defines a changing habit in audience engagement and consumption
– authorship should be seen as something which exists on several levels
– finds meaning in a ‘what would i do’ logic as opposed to ‘this is what happened’ > places user in the role of the protagonist
– i-docs offer a new way of constructing reality rather than just representing it
– ethical questions have been raised: who is held responsible for the content of collaboration ? what is the limit of participation in the documentary genre ?
– i-docs can be used as a great mode of activism as it calls for the viewer to not only engage with, but participate in an issue or version of reality


this week’s reading was on actor-network theory… this reading was insanely dense and other than the two following points (below) I could pull out – and probably only because they were listed “firstly” and “secondly” which made it easy to gravitate towards them like the simple-minded human I am – none of it really got through to my brain… maybe from too much coffee/not enough sleep, maybe not enough coffee/too much sleep…maybe because it’s the end of week 11, a thursday afternoon still painfully slogging through the excessive brain damage (then again, a smart person told me once that you can’t kill braincells if you don’t have a brain) I caused myself last weekend and in all honestly I’d actually rather stick thumtacks in my eyelids than sit down and do uni work right now…  but, hey, this has nothing to do with the reading, or networked media, other than of-course to point out how much of a massive failure I am at this subject right now and really I am just rambling on in an attempt to make you feel sorry for me so you ignore the fact that I’ve really gotten nothing from this reading and this post is really barely about the reading at all…the point being, I tried. I really did….so yeah…

misunderstandings generally made about ‘actor theory’ –
1. giving it a common “technical” meaning because it can function in many ways that can’t be classified under one umbrella description
2. actor-network theory has little to do with social networks

this video has a nice modern young woman summing up actor-network theory pretty basically in language that I can understand and I couldn’t even concentrate on what she’s saying, so go figure-

in fact, here’s a youtube search I did which has heaps of links to bruno latour talking about super interesting things (you’re welcome), and then there’s this video somewhere down the list which I sat and watched for about 33 seconds before being like wtf am I doing with my life I am going to go for a nap…


database is defined as a structured collection of data > storing and retreiving information easily

with new media comes a move away from “narrative” form to experience the world > instead the world has become a random collection of data

websites and other databases are continually growing and changing > therefore there cannot be a coherent “narrative” as the material is constantly changing

computer games are new media objects which are not databases, they rely on “narrative” > not all new media relies on a ‘database’ structure > they are motivated by the ‘algorithm’ logic

Will Wright (creator of the sims) “Playing the game is a continuous loop between the user (viewing outcomes and inputting decisions) and the computer (calculating outcomes and displaying them back to the user). The user is trying to build a mental model of the computer model.”


new media has largely been reduced to algorithms and data structures

the computer age brought with it a new cultural algorithm:
reality-> media -> data-> data-base

when the ability to document and store information in a database (on a computer particularly) there was a push towards digitalising everything (including older formats like photography, scanning old photographs etc) in order to be able to easily store and access this information

while the concept of ‘database’ and ‘narrative’ are conflicting, ‘narrative’ and ‘algorithm’ have a commonality

not all cultural objects are narratives, there are specific criteria which to judge what can be considered a narrative or not, some databases are definitely not classed as narratives


technology has become an abstract term – it now defines the entire habitat we live in. now that humans have learnt (in the Western culture, anyway) to live with technology and have become dependent on it, is there any way we can revert back to a time without technology? and when did humans begin to rely on ‘technology’, do more simple forms of technology (for example, tools for hunting etc) count as technology? this isn’t in the reading but from what I can infer, technology seems to have arisen from a need to make life ‘easier’, but the way it has influenced our lives and now has caused us to become dependent on it almost seems paradoxical. does technology make life simpler or is it complicating life more than ever?

technology influences disciplines such as psychology and science, for example metaphors such as ‘the mind as a computer’. if you deconstruct the human brain, as some psychologists attempt to, you will see that it brain, like a computer, is programmed specifically to react, perceive and behave in a certain way. when somebody is mentally ill or has suffered mental trauma, it is not dissimilar to a computer getting a virus that changes or inhibits certain functions.

I don’t think I need to link a diagram of a computer and all of the functions of the different parts to prove my point. it is interesting that technology – which is man made –  has come to mimic organic forms such as the human brain in the way it is broken down into sections which cater to specific functions. maybe I’m drawing a parallel where there is none, but this metaphor was interesting to me.

there is a distinction between ‘technology’ and ‘technique’ > technique is a skill set in which enables technology to be useful, if we were to forget the technique behind technology, technologies would become “one vast pile of junk”, to use an analogy, if you were in a car accident and suffered amnesia and brain damage so severe that you forgot everything you have learnt about language and how to construct sentences/speak, then to you, language becomes useless. to an indigenous person who has never stepped into the modern world, a computer is literally a piece of garbage because without the ‘technique’ or knowledge of how to use it, it is nothing.

technology shifts and change and with it culture shifts and changes according to the technology which becomes available. it is evident that shifting technology changes the way a culture acts and behaves. if you think of the example of how big the effects of a site such as ‘facebook’ are, you can see this. before Facebook and other similar technologies, did people feel this apparent need to share every aspect of their life with supposed ‘friends’? did people take a million photos of their every day life and activities or did this come out of a necessity to share everything on the internet? if you didn’t have a platform like facebook or instagram where you could share these photos, I highly doubt it would become such a common practice to document and photograph your life to the extent most people do in this day and age. this would mean far less photos of people’s meals, coffees and clothing choices. I’m not sure if this is necessarily a bad thing. if this is how far we have come in the past 5 years, can you imagine what will happen in the future? I can’t even begin to forecast what the future looks like but I have this feeling that soon enough, nothing will be private, people will begin (and already have begun to) live their lives online, and by extension, vicariously through other people’s lives and photographs that have been shared. the fact that something as small as a website can so radically affect culture is kind of a scary thought. are people going to just simply stop “living” in the real world and rather live in this hyperreal parallel internet universe? maybe I’m being melodramatic, but it’s a scary thought.