Tamed Manifestos

So via the videovortex email list arrives news of Videoex, the “Experimental Film and Video Festival Zürich“, late May early June 2014. Cool. Except like most festivals in the experimental category this means anything that can be shown via DVD (or film, but that’s not the point). Look, look at me. Look at my amazing experimental work. What? No, you just get to watch me. Sorry, it.

Then along comes the Québécois ‘digital storytelling manifesto‘ suitably bi-lingual (great manifesto web page design too). Obligatory ten points. A chip on the shoulder that I’d have to recognise, very not so much Canadian but a colonial syndrome where (like in Australia) we feel the need to have to sort of be pointed in saying we’re actually really good at this, but since we always look somewhere else for legitimation, we really aren’t going to let ourselves seriously claim that we’re that good at it. Point three, nice, though easy to say isn’t it? Four, absolutely, though you know, this is not that big a deal when you push it. Most creative industries have this mix of service and art. Lyricists who write jingles. Novelists who were once copy writers in advertising agencies. Film directors who paid the bills directing ads (and insert dop’s, sound recordists and all the rest there). So anyone there could be artists instead of service industries. The rub comes when you then want someone to pay for the art, as opposed to the service work…

Five, code matters. About time someone stood up for this one. Can’t code? Get out of the way for now please.

Six, this one is intriguing, only because I’m not sure what an ‘interactive writing culture’ might mean. Nice idea and suggestion, though I don’t think it means writing so much as coding or storytelling (it is a digital storytelling manifesto after all). Seven is a standout, and one that deserves more consideration. The web for instance is not a site of distribution but is the place of practice. Not many seem to understand this, making over there in my shed/studio and unveiling the masterwork over here.

Eight. Not ready to believe that yet. Unless screen is being lazy shorthand for TV and cinema, then sure, but sheesh, do we really need to say that? But the mobile revolution happened because of the screen of the iPhone, not in spite of it.

Nine, why? Ten, maybe, and I support the sentiment, but simply saying we do this well and we should stay number one might not be enough of a rationale.

Finally, why ‘digital storytelling’? This might be the inevitable result of bi-lingual communication and complexity, but this manifesto already puts story first, what sort of revolution are we going to have if we aren’t even going to bother questioning the hegemony of narrative as some sort of idealised communicative form? Indeed, an interesting exercise is replacing ‘interactivity’ and ‘interactive work’ with ‘story’ and ‘narrative’ or ‘fiction’ and this looks like something that might have been printed by some mates of Dickens in the pub in 1850, in which case we really are struggling to do much more than chase our tails – surely we ought to be more radical in our ambition than this?