Hypothetical Readings for an Interactive Video Subject

A subject that I have run for a few years, Integrated Media One, is where I’ve been able to ‘put’ interactive video. Once upon a time we used eZedia QTi (now vapourware), and more recently Korsakow. The aim of the subject is to forcefully acculturate aspiring media professionals to the deep affordances and ecologies of multilinearity. That’s it. It is not about narrative, it is not about transmedia, it is not cross platform production. My own view is if you grok multilinearity (let’s call it ‘deep multilinearity’) then the rest is easy. And it is hard to get it, deep down. (Hence a lot of vanguardist rubbish in making and theory that really is clueless about deep multilinearity but really likes the nice new shiny full-screen-all-of-my-attention-amazingness over there, because, well, it is multilinear and participatory and INTERACTIVE, though we won’t stop and seriously consider, think about, or heck, even define, any of these terms along the way.)

Yes, he mumbled. It’s a grumpy day.

A problem with this subject is that we really do want to combine theory and practice, but we only really get students for two hours a class, and that simply isn’t long enough. The model I’d like to use is to read first, then use the reading with the students, in each class, as a prompt or provocation to then make some things that are a response come interpretation of the reading. Instead we predefine these, they do lots of making, and then there’s a raggle tangle bag of readings that help, support, and often times run a parallel trajectory to the making. Parallel, rather than intersecting, because we don’t really have the time to let the ideas lead first. This will change, but for now this is what we’ve got.

So. Readings. While it is about multilinearity within that I nest things about network literacies, noticing, documentary, everyday media practice as a legitimate (and ethical) mode of acknowledging self and world. Therefore:

one
Aston, Judith, and sandra Gaudenzi. “Interactive Documentary: Setting the Field.” Studies in Documentary Film 6.2 (2012): 125–139.
An introduction to how interactive documentaries are being thought about, and also a way to legitimate what we are going to do in the eyes of the students as there is ‘real’ academic work being done about them. Also useful as it provides a crude classificatory scheme, which I’m not that interested in, but students (like humanities academics who, unknowingly, mirror the phylogenic classificatory and Linnaean ambitions of our scientist peers) are desperate for boundaries and rules.

A supplementary reading is this journal introduction:
Hight, Craig. “The Field of Digital Documentary: A Challenge to Documentary Theorists.” Studies in Documentary Film 2.1 (2008): 3–7.

two
Sørenssen, Bjørn. “Digital Video and Alexandre Astruc’s Caméra-Stylo: The New Avant-Garde in Documentary Realized?” Studies in Documentary Film 2.1 (2008): 47–59.
At this point students are making sketch videos using smart phones. This essay helps legitimate this practice by picking up the historical relation between new technologies, documentary (and we might add the New Wave) and an alternative conception of film making as practice that is outside of narrative, studios, storyboards and the like.

A supplementary reading is Sobchack, Vivian. “Nostalgia for a Digital Object: Regrets on the Quickening of QuickTime.” Millenium Film Journal 34.Fall (1999), largely because it validates the fragility, smallness, and transience of video online. This is useful in relation to my ‘anti’ monument mode where students all want to make media monuments with big casts, lots of equipment, big footprints. They confuse quantity with quality, and loudness with having something to share (we are well past the time when something to say was a key induce of import).

Now it is a soup, as for me things are just entangled and so thinking there is a single trajectory, even a better trajectory, through the rest of the material is a struggle. That’s as much about how I make sense of things as anything else, but given my commitment to multilinearity (and entanglement) I really do want to resist the idea that there is a pedagogical narrative arc to this. There isn’t, and any attempt to impose one is just a moment of either teacherly insecurity, or its obverse, pedagogical force.

So my soup contains:
Narrating

  • Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill, 2013. Print. For a simple outline of what narrative is, and then a reasonably useful segue into non narrative.
  • Chatman, Seymour. Coming to Terms: The Rhetoric of Narrative in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990, and his Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988, as supplements for those that want a narratological taster, and some formalism around what a narrative is (and is not).
  • There’s a chapter in here (chapter 7 I think) that is about the list, and so Ernst, Wolfgang. Digital Memory and the Archive (Electronic Mediations). Ed. Jussi Parikka. Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2012. Print.
  • As well as bits of the second and possibly parts of the third chapter of Bogost, Ian. Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing. Minneapolis: University Press of Minnesota, 2012. Print. This is also about the list

Poetics

  • Sherman, Tom. “Vernacular Video.” Noema: Tecnologie And Società. But substitute video art for TV (heritage media), likewise for the commentary about museum art/culture, and vernacular for everyday.
  • Amerika, Mark, and Adrian Miles. “Postcinematic Writing.” Meta/Data. Boston: MIT Press, 2007. 227–30. Print. About a digitally specific approach to video that is writerly and looks for other ways to define itself apart from TV and cinema.
  • Bill Seaman’s Recombinant Poetics and Database Aesthetic for a way of thinking about remix and combination as a deep structure to digital practice, with Bizzocchi, Jim. “The Fragmented Frame: The Poetics of the Split-Screen.” and Eleftheriotis, Dimitris. “Video Poetics: Technology, Aesthetics and Politics.” Screen 36.2 (1995): 100–112. screen.oxfordjournals.org. Web. 16 Mar. 2014.
  • On a different note passages from Bachelard’s Poetics of Reverie and The Poetics of Space (Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood, Language, and the Cosmos. Trans. Daniel Russell. Boston: Beacon Press, 1971. Print, The Poetics of Space. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969. Print.), as they situate a poetics within art and the phenomenology of the lived world and so each offers ways to realise how to notice and see what is already there as the basis from which to create varieties of patterns that are, in themselves (the patterns) forms of understanding. In particular that might fall out of the teleological forms of knowledge that fiction and the university privilege.

multilinearity (though most of these students have done a prior semester where we look at introductory hypertext and network theory – Watts and Barabási in particular.

  • Extracts from Landow, George. Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. Print. with extracts from Douglas, J. Yellowlees. The End of Books — Or Books Without End?: Reading Interactive Narratives. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000. Print. These are about the implications and consequences of multilinearity for narrative and reading (and by implication viewing).
  • Supplemented by Miles, Adrian. “Hypertext Teaching.” Reading Hypertext. Ed. Mark Bernstein and Diane Greco. Watertown: Eastgate, 2009. 223–238. Which discusses the role of multilinearity, teaching it, and how reading multilinear works is dramatically different to how we usually think of reading or viewing a work.

And so a stronger way to approach this is via affect and indeterminacy:

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  • Miles, Adrian. “Click, Think, Link: Interval and Affective Narrative.” Database | Narrative | Archive: Seven Interactive Essays on Digital Nonlinear Storytelling. Ed. Matt Soar and Monika Gagnon. N. p., 2013. Web. 19 May 2013.
  • And a book chapter I’ve written which I make available to them Miles, Adrian. “Interactive Documentary and Affective Ecologies.” New Documentary Ecologies Emerging Platforms, Practices and Discourses. Ed. Kate Nash, Craig Hight, and Catherine Summerhayes. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Print.
  • Supplementary readings would be from Deleuze’s Cinema One, but that’s too ambitious for second years… (Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema One: The Movement–Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986. Print.)
  • Finally some additional stuff on interactive documentary to finish up with:

    • Nash, K. “Modes of Interactivity: Analysing the Webdoc.” Media, Culture & Society 34.2 (2012): 195–210. and Dovey, Jon, and Mandy Rose. “We’re Happy and We Know It: Documentary, Data, Montage.” Studies in Documentary Film 6.2 (2012): 159–173. Nash for the return to the definitional. Dovey because it begins a crucial discussion about relational media.

    What’s still missing is stuff on the everyday. But, you know, that’ll have to wait for another time.