Transmedia Entertainment & Marketing

IBCoM: CM2052

Pair assignment by Pol and Elisa

Analysing Interactive Projects: How far does interaction go with artwork?

 

According to Wong, Jung and Yoon (2009, p. 180), “in interactive art, the element of interactivity is important to capture the spectator’s actual intention and represent it accordingly”. Also, the work has to allow the audience to discover the meaning through the interactivity.

In this paper, three interactive projects of the National Film Board of Canada are going to be analyzed. At first, the three projects, namely “GDP”, “Flawed” and “The Next Day”, will be individually described in order to reach common conclusions about interactive projects. Will the analyzed projects respond to these criteria? How does the interactivity allow the user to discover the work?

 

GDP

“GDP, measuring the human side of the Canadian economic crisis” stands over a map where either the photo or video content is displayed as a dot pinned on the spot where the story is happening.

According to John Pickles:

“mapping is an interpretative act, not a purely technical one, in which the product – the map – conveys not merely the facts but also and always the author’s intention, and all the acknowledged and unacknowledged conditions and values any author (and his/her profession, time and culture) bring to a work.” (Pickles, 2004, p. 43)

So, since the map is the main element of world building in this interactive project, it allows the user to access the points of entry of a familiar world –everyone has seen a map before, and since the main target for the project is people from Canada, they’re even more familiar with a map of their own country– and locate the problems explained in the content.

One of the best aspects of the project is precisely this proximity, the familiar territory enhances the identification and emotional bonding with the whole project and it’s stories. You know that certain story is happening in your own city, or the next one, or next to your parents’ house. Even the comments people leave are geo-tagged, so everyone can see where the support comes from.

The interactivity, though, is very limited and, apart from the really visual way of presenting it trough a map, there’s nothing really innovative about it: Choose the video, follow the story and leave a comment.

Flawed

Flawed is an animation movie, which tells the story of a girl and her view on her own and others’ flaws. After watching the movie, you can interact with the main character and discover her flaws while she tells a story about each of them. Just like some games with a participatory narrative, there is a certain tension between the director and watcher (Rose, 2011). At first, people have to sit still and watch the plot of the animation movie develop (Rose, 2011) and after that, they can engage with the narrative.

The story in Flawed is told in first person, which makes it very personal. The author tells about her world and how she experienced her flaws in her life. The strength and uniqueness of this project lays in the way some narrative elements are used, especially, the characterization and atmosphere. By the way the story is told, one can emotionally identify with the character and her personal story. And this could positively contribute to someone’s self esteem and the understanding of personal aspects.

However, the world building around Flawed is not strong since. Flawed can only be entered through the animation movie. Though, the element of pivot point is to a certain extent present in this project since the narrative has an interactive aspect (Kapoor, 2012). What also indicates that the world Building around Flawed is weak is the fact that after engaging with the project once, it is ‘done’.

The Next Day

The Next Day is an animated documentary that tells the story of four survivors of a suicide attempt. What makes this project unique is how the survivors open up about their lives after the suicide attempt. The project has multiple points of entry, namely the animated documentary and a graphic book.

Just like flawed, the Next Day has a participatory narrative, which is more developed than in Flawed (Rose, 2011). When watching the film, the film is ‘cut’ into pieces and the watcher can choice out of four words, which all stand for one survivor, every 1 minute. In this way, the multiple stories are all intertwined since the watcher does not know which word belongs to which survivor when choosing it. This is both the strength and the weakness of the project. On the one hand, it is unique way of presenting a stories and it makes it look like one complete story but on the other hand, you do not really get to know the whole individual story of all the survivors. However, watchers can look up all the ‘scenes’ in the audio library.

Also, letting the watcher the option to choose words themselves, contributes to the creation of the atmosphere, which is the strongest narrative element in this project.

Conclusion

The three projects have several similarities despite the obvious formal differences. They basically use various points of entry in order to let the user access the content at its own will. Interactivity, though, does not go further than that in all of the projects: The story is always the same, no matter the order that is taken.

Although, we’ve found that one of the projects stands up above the others: “The next day”. Regardless of the simplicity of the composition, just animated drawings and sound, it offers the highest grade of interactivity and the best atmosphere: multiple points of entry are followed by choices, and the use of the “stop and go” effect is present throughout the whole project.

In terms of success, we agreed that “GDP” and “The next day” achieved interaction and engagement of the audience, whilst “Flawed” was only a video with an interactive list of flaws.

References:

Kapoor, R. (2012). World building. Transmedia entertainment and marketing seminar week 3. Retrieved from https://ibcomtransmedia2012.wordpress.com/seminar-slides/slides-week-3/

Pickles, J. (2004). A history of spaces: Cartographic reason, mapping and the geo-coded world. London: Routledge.

Rose, F. (2011) Open Worlds. The Art of Immersion. 121-144

Wong, C. O., Jung, K. & Yoon, J. (2009). Interactive art: The art that communicates. Leonardo 42:2 180-181.

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8 comments on “Pair assignment by Pol and Elisa

  1. Evelien De Smedt
    October 11, 2012

    Dear Pol and Elisa,
    it was interesting to read your piece about these three interactive projects.
    I had not read about ‘GDP’ and ‘The Next Day’ yet, so this was a nice insight. For my team assignment we also looked into Flawed, and I too noticed that it lacked on interactivity. You also mentioned that ‘Flawed’ was weak when it came to world building, therefore could anyone think of a possible way for the authors to strengthened it? Or would this have taken away the purpose of this simple and relatable narrative?

    • Ghezal (@Ghezallie)
      October 12, 2012

      Hey All,
      My team mate and I did also Flawed and The Next Day. I do agree that The Next Day was more interactive as the audience had the choice to choose their own path for hearing the story, and not like in Flawed where they had to follow a path by just clicking through the video. But I disagree that Flawed is weak when it comes to world building. This because It does not need much world building, many people know how it is to have flaws and can imagine easily how it will look like. I think that Andrea Dorfman choose on purpose to make aquarelle drawings, because with aquarelle you do not have control over the colour (it can become darker/lighter than you want it). In short just like she has no power on how the colours or drawings will become, that is how we do not have the power on our flaws. They are there and you need to accept them. Also the narrator contributed a lot in the building of the word, so I think Flawed is not weak in the element world building. But this is my point of view. Cheers.

  2. Isabelle Parqui
    October 12, 2012

    Dear Pol and Elisa,
    I have also not yet seen the movies ‘GDP’ and ‘The Next day’, so indeed it was interesting to read the stories and techniques of the different interactive movies. I especially like ‘The Next Day’ as it is based on a true story. The topic of suicide is very dark, however the beauty is that its based on survivors that have changed their mind about life as it is. I find the fact that the viewer has to chose the worlds of the survivors without knowing very interesting, as the viewer has their own choice in building up the story line and delves deeper into the story this way.

  3. Karim Rabbani
    October 12, 2012

    Hey guys,

    really liked your assignment and since we studied Flawed and GDP too, I saw a lot of similarities. However, what i noticed with GDP is that there is a blog available where anyone can leave there story and audience members can discuss with the people from the documentaries. Thanks to this many audience members have supported the people that were going through hard times in the documentary and even volunteered to help them at their companies/farms etc. Do you think this makes it more interactive?

    • Pol Bordàs
      October 18, 2012

      Hi Karim!

      Well, what you are pointing out is definitely true and it is also a form of interactivity. However, a blog or even a forum is not the kind of interactivity we were looking for. Here, we focused our attention in how, inside the artwork itself, could you interact with it and wander around the options, worlds and stories explained.
      So, the answer would be: No, it doesn’t make the artwork more interactive but it gives the possibility to actually help or support the protagonists of the site, so, it does allow interactivity with those people.
      Thanks for your feedback!

  4. Bilal Kabdani
    October 12, 2012

    Hey Pol and Elisa,

    It was nice, as the other people before me mentioned, to read about different projects that no one had picked yet. As you mention in your conclusion, you picked ‘The Next Day’ over the other projects based on its interactivity and atmosphere, although it is very simplistic. Would you argue that there could be such a thing as a ‘perfect project’, where the simplistic part would be more advanced, or does the simplistic part contribute to the interactivity of the whole project?

  5. Robin Alkemade
    October 14, 2012

    Hi everyone,
    It was interesting to read about the project you described since the only one I took a look at was Flawed. Though i thought it was interesting what Ghezal mentioned regarding the Flawed project and World building. Since I to believe that Flawed does not lack world buidling since everyone can relate to flaws and it was very nice to read about her view of the aquarelle. You definelty chose nice projects 🙂

  6. A Gevorkian
    October 18, 2012

    Hey, real interesting stuff, i think that the whole project is very extensive and that the case was presented appropriately, I think that the level of interactivity in all three projects is innovative and that the evaluation has been drawn up well, to me personally the flawed project has the most interesting approach, especially as robin mentioned that it is applicable to everyone.

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