[-empyre-] Interactive Video for the Web - Have you thought of a story?

Hello all.

Thanks to Jim Andrews for the welcome and to all empyre associates for hosting these conversations....


" ' Have you thought of a story?' I was asked each morning, and each morning I was forced to reply with a mortifying negative."

---- quote from Mary Shelley, Introduction to 1831 edition of Frankenstein.

This quote comes to mind as I try to formulate some ways to approach the empyre topic of Interactive Video for the Web. As a start, I am thinking about how a compelling horror story (such as Frankenstein) has yet to be produced as an interactive video.

Some might disagree, insisting that video streams embedded in hyperlink-encrusted pages of msnbc.com or perhaps the U.S. military news channel are monstrously horrifying enough. Yet, neither streaming news videos nor (say, at the opposite end of the cinematic spectrum) motion graphic visualizations of artificial life, generative software, or "creative code" ever deal with re-animating the dead. Within the cocoon of interactivity we have never found ourselves wondering, via the performativity of the interface/code, if the dead are staying dead. In other words, we have not developed forms that viscerally test the liminal spaces of subjectivity.

A boundary region, with the necessary markers, can also be an interface. So, in experiencing interfaces integrated into something we label "interactive video", do we ever manage to place ourselves at the edge of something otherwise unimaginable, face-to-face with ((animate matter)) that is radically other?

Okay. Maybe I should name some names. I am making sketchy associations, here, because I know that my question is clumsily posed. Here are 4 names, among others I could mention, whose work I would position in relation to interactive video and to my questions:

-- Alan Sondheim, whose continually evolving texts on discussion lists include hyperlinks to parallel images and videos with an overall cumulative effect (over time) that is like being startled in slow-motiion. I am tempted to say that his collected works comprise one ongoing extended work of interactive cinema.

-- Graham Harwood, whose work doesn't approach the boundary (the zone of interface where, as Sandy Stone has said, "agency changes form") so much as his work starts there and radiates outward from it. (Some of his work can be found at http://www.scotoma.org Unfortunately the work, "Rehearsal of Memory", is only available as a cdrom.)

-- Amy Alexander, whose v-jay posturing and kookiness does not hide an obsessive drive to tear off every layer of interface as if each one was a mask hiding something disturbing and unsettling beneath it. For example, try her funny and strange exorcist.exe at http://deprogramming.us/

-- Zoe Beloff, who's web presence is descriptive of her performance and cdrom works - her projects frame the experience of stereoscopic interactive videos as philosophical toys... diagetic worlds where we witness, in miniature, our illusions (optical and otherwise) externalized and collectively projected/hallucinated outside our fragile-bounded selves. Zoe's website is http://www.zoebeloff.com/


My own work has been described very well by Jim.

My most recent work incorporates video streams from the C-SPAN.org website, using (among other components) lyrics and music of karaoke songs as methods for (1) interpreting and talking/singing back to the one-way flow of cspan videos, (2) gaining awareness and understanding of public policy-making and ritualistic governmental process while practicing the first method, and (3) experimenting with forms of cinematic experience made possible by the technical limitations of network processes.

The C-SPAN x 4 project can be accessed at


Barbara Lattanzi

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