[-empyre-] space, time and narrative

Hi Y'all -

In answer to Roya's question "How can digital artists tell stories without words? Should they? Is it possible?" I agree with Steve: we control space and use it to negotiate time with the user. The user in turn has the responsibility of actively investing their time in negotiating the space that we have provided for them. In doing so they (oh god! not that term again!!!) "create" their own narrative - because narrative is basically events happening in time.

I like to think of what we do in terms of "choreographing" the user's experience: we set up structures of space and embellish them with constraints (no you can't walk through the walls; try the door instead, etc.) and lures (if you've already seen everything in here, how about checking out this new little thing I make appear outside? etc.) in order to shape the possible experience that the user can have in that virtual space. The user still has to execute the movements themselves, but with the "physical" and dramatic structure that we have created in order to SHAPE their experience.

So unlike in classical music we are not controlling time - in an interactive work we actually do NOT usually want to force the user to proceed at a certain rate, because when we remove their ability to actively shape their own experience we remove a large part of their engagement with the piece.

But we ARE setting up structures that form a framework in which the user's own engagement should produce a dramatic experience. No user engagement: no experience. No framework: no drama.

I get the sense that many media critics confuse the concept of "creating your own narrative" with "create your own artwork." The two are not necessarily the same. Creating an interactive artwork means creating a framework. Creating a narrative in this context means starting somewhere, ending somewhere and arranging the events that happen in between. We can perceive events out of time but to "make sense" of them we seem to be hard-wired to create narratives, i.e. descriptions of events in time with the implication - not necessarily desired, but hard to avoid - of cause and effect.

- tamiko

roya wrote:
> - How can digital artists tell stories without words? Should they? Is > it possible?

steve guynup wrote:
> I've always thought that moving through space created
> a narrative. (the term narrative is used loosely)
> ...
> So what about us - do we control time and space? Well,
> space I do believe we as builders completely control.
> Nothing is there or does anything that we didn't (even
> accidentally) program.
> Time on the other hand we don't control. The user
> moves through the space at their own pace and in their
> own directions. They create their own linear
> narrative, their own timeline of events.
> In the end, we negotiate time with the user. We do
> this by creating pathways in which we hope/have to
> follow our timeline ...Much of what we do to define
> space is really to affect time.

 Tamiko Thiel       Media Artist



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