Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Carmen Hermosillo (humdog) Tue 18 Feb 03 13:38
>one will not replace the other. on the other hand, people no longer rely on stained glass windows for information. few people deal in painted miniature portraits. it does not follow that these forms will co-exist. interactives at this point are products for people who can afford the cost-of-entry. that does not make these products candidates for universal adoption in the way that the "story by the fire" idea suggests.
nape fest (zorca) Tue 18 Feb 03 13:51
ha. i can imagine at least two categories here. one, in which there are X number of pre-defined iterative narratives pretty much hard-coded into the storyline. and one, exquisite corpse-like, in which the, um, authors have much more leeway and the quality of the overall experience is much more dependent on the creativity and simpatico of the other participants. the first will inevitably develop. the commercial precedents are already in place. even if the earliest examples (voting buttons on the arms of movie house seats) were dismal failures. the second is, like its storylines, a little more open-ended. the truly artful examples will almost certainly be generated by select groups that seek each other out. i'm not sure what the financial model is (some kind of subscription model?), but i look forward to checking these out. i'll admit that i'm a little clueless when it comes to transplanting the multi-author scenario to the mass market. the enormous success of reality tv kinda caught me off guard. i really didn't think people gave a damn about 'joe i'm-not-a-millionaire.' so this perhaps bodes well for interactive narratives that require the input of the general populace. but it would seem that entropy would quickly level out any real story development. erm. or am i missing a critical piece here?
The Fucked-Up Piano Chicks (magdalen) Tue 18 Feb 03 14:53
i agree - i don't envision us getting tired of traditional narrative. i think the written word will maintain itself (possibly as a Farhenheit 451 style cult thing) because it does require creativity on the part of the reader. much more so than TV or film, at least as those media are usually used.
The Fucked-Up Piano Chicks (magdalen) Tue 18 Feb 03 14:54
Call Out Research Hook #1 (kadrey) Tue 18 Feb 03 14:55
>it does not follow that these forms will co-exist. and yet i believe they will. we're in an era that can support mulitple media types simultaneously. tv didn't replace radio. video hasn't replaced tv. each morphed into somedthing else, but is still funcational. i suspect we will have more and more of those situations. of course, i have no proof and in 100 years, this will all seem as quaint as quill pens, but for now, i'm sticking with my multi-stream scenario.
The Phantom of the Arts Center (tinymonster) Tue 18 Feb 03 15:00
And if you're wrong in 100 years, who's gonna know? <g>
The Fucked-Up Piano Chicks (magdalen) Tue 18 Feb 03 15:19
probably us. we will be perfectly engineered, long-lasting machines by then. right?
Call Out Research Hook #1 (kadrey) Tue 18 Feb 03 16:53
will we finally get those jetpacks they promised us?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 18 Feb 03 17:19
With our luck we'll be uploaded extropian-style into TI99-4As and battered by bad Galaxians for an eternity, Meanwhile, I hate to be pigheaded (only room for one pighed, no?), but I still do wonder about the (ahem) emergence of narrative from multiple authors interacting, what rules apply, etc. (When the USPS finds and delivers a copy of the book, perhaps I'll find a better way to construct the question...)
pighed (pighed) Wed 19 Feb 03 07:23
well, jonl, how do you think a conference works? i dont think that this is necessarily a narrative (we can come to that thornbush later) but is it so .. weird .. that there are multiple authors here? doesnt being one of the authors just increase your interest in what's going on?
nape fest (zorca) Wed 19 Feb 03 11:28
i'm starting to be frightened. what if future novels are basically the equivalent of leaving an open PA system in a shopping mall???!!!
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 19 Feb 03 12:52
How does it usually work in game narratives... how many authors do you have, and do different authors handle different branches? And to what extent is the player a co-creator of the narrative? (As for 'emergent narrative,' I guess the closest thing here is the one or more hyphenation topics in inkwell... not currently active, but the thing is that each post is part of a narrative, and the author of the post stops in the middle of a hyphenated word - next author picks up. Those can be clever, but I'm never quite sure they're going somewhere, partly because the writing's more in the moment. But with the exception of some experimental fiction, you generally expect a novel or story to have a structure that works, with more or less plot, consistency of character, etc. I'm wondering to what extent that can emerge from collaborative work, or to what extent one authorial voice has to dominate, or an editor step in. But I can shut up about it... it may not be relevant to Pause and Effect...)
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 19 Feb 03 13:06
Moo/mud/muse play can be quite the interactive narrative. One night some years ago about six of us weatn riding giraffes in WELLmuse, and kept the adventure storyline going flawlessly, as well as some trained improv folks I knew in my theater days ever did. It was utterly magical, and not self-consciously surreal or sarcastic in the least. How to you convey that to people when they ask what you did last night? That goes on in WELL topics now and then, including the hyphenated story, another old improv game translated to this medium. But the main limitation here is that there is a great deal of pressure to be sincere (or consistent at least) and not to adopt assorted playful personae in most parts of The WELL. That means that the narrative fascination around here becomes almost soap opera-esque "reality" rather than fictional tales. Many people have told me that they can't bear to leave because there is always something going on between people on The WELL -- will puffball get a job, are bratcat and super-giddy really moving in together and will that make hydrant INSANE with jealousy when they meet at the picnic? Those story lines are developed via dialog from the participants, and also by gossip. That's still narrative, seems to me. It still has the narrative hook!
Carmen Hermosillo (humdog) Wed 19 Feb 03 16:02
i think it is magdalen who rightly brings up farenheit 451: montag's wife has her moment in the television show, she is very excited, she thinks of that moment as a personal moment. she is one of N people named Linda, so her personal moment is a moment not of personality but rather of being a member of a group of Lindas. that people moved from oral/aural story-telling to story-telling on paper/print to electronica, or even that multiple authors engage together in multiple story lines does not, to me, alter the basic transaction of transferring knowledge/insight from the person who has the knowledge/insight to the person who wants the knowledge/insight. that there is now capacity to tell the story/content in a more graphical manner does not change the transaction, either. all of that is interesting but it is not new. i do not think that MOOs MUDs change any models because i think of all these things as flavors of theatre. open-ended theatre, perhaps, but still theatre. no what i think is interesting is the changes in the roles of what we call, for want of a better term, the reader. the reader is an interesting role because literary theory sometimes will suggests that the reader is a kind of mush and that authors have control over what Dear Reader is fabricating in the corners of Dear Reader's imagination. i think if zorca's loudspeaker shopping mall novel happens the reader will construct a narrative from it pretty much in the same manner that readers construct a narrative from a paper novel now. so i don't think that even that is too strange. what i think is interesting is that with more exposure to more possibilities (barring kadrey's excellent concern about navel-gazing, which i think is pretty close to true)the reader has more stuff to construct with, in the same way that children, through television, have more opportunities to construct fascinating and mysterious IDs by building themselves from pieces of rugrats, transformers, sports figures and the roomba. interactive narratives (and i think this form desperately needs a new name) make this process more visible. (by the way i think that digital and manual photography are equivalent to each other, like view and 35mm cameras are equivalent. photographies are different from paintings. the road that painting has travelled since the introduction of photographies speaks to that difference i think).
nape fest (zorca) Wed 19 Feb 03 16:22
hm. so pighed's paintings are truly gorgeous confections. i will argue that they work because they are the fruit of one obsessive's vision. a collaborative painting done by equally obsessive fans would turn out something curious, but i doubt it would have as much impact. but perhaps i shouldn't be comparing narrative with visual representation?
The Fucked-Up Piano Chicks (magdalen) Wed 19 Feb 03 16:49
well, in pig's book i think we're presented with the idea that narrative already exists in visual art. i think it can/does. hell i still don't know what "narrative" IS, but i think it's everywhere that motion and change exist. visual art is sometimes more mysterious about that narrative, or assumes you bring a bunch of context to the piece. like if you look at some big war painting in a museum, there's a frozen piece there that implies the larger narrative: the people on the right are fighting the people on the left... the storm is coming... god is breaking through the clouds... the white horse rears...
Brian Dear (brian) Wed 19 Feb 03 17:46
<scribbled by brian Wed 20 Mar 13 18:15>
nape fest (zorca) Wed 19 Feb 03 20:27
i believe that pig is once again on the road. in the meantime, i'll say that his definitions are in keeping with the academic discussions going on around the topic. and not far off from discussions i've had with a good number of game and television producers over the past several years. 'interactive narrative' seems generally to cover a wide variety of sins these days. and may well cover an even broader spectrum once the tools and expertise being hatched in these environments start to hit the streets. i guess i found the visual density of the book to be comforting. it reinforced for me the points mark is making throughout. there are so many historical markers and i loved following his own visual narratives running across the pages. i think it's inevitable that a book on this topic is not a simple read. it's a complex and emerging arena. that said, i hope pig will talk a little about how he personally reconciles his work in interactive media with his more traditional artforms -- painting, sculpture, photography, even his comics.
nape fest (zorca) Thu 20 Feb 03 22:50
so while we wait for mark to clear customs, it would be lovely to hear from a few more folks about how they see interactive media unfolding. among the examples already deployed - game consoles, tv shows with synchronous online components, phone-in polls and contests and the like - which do you see having the most potential? what would you hope for in the near and long term?
nape fest (zorca) Fri 21 Feb 03 10:10
pighed should be back in paris shortly. but he sent me a post that i'll copy into the next response...
nape fest (zorca) Fri 21 Feb 03 10:11
all is well here, i'm headed back to paris tonight, so i'll check in with you guys if i have time in about 8 hours. its great to be back in here. just wish i could do this while moving around. sick of wire tethers. #1.about the book; Brian; >Maybe it's just me, but I find this kind of densely-packed, visually- intense and >information-rich book to be a chore to get through, probably precisely because >of the density of information. Density not just of photos and text blurbs, but the >way the book can be studied at multiple levels -- there are multiple things going >on on each page. >The nagging question is: is that necessarily a good thing? Is this kind of >presentation, and I focus on presentation because the book just screams >"presentation", the best way to convey all of the information contained inside? there were three things i was trying to do. first, i wanted to challenge readers. second i wanted to challenge myself. third i wanted to try to build a book that practiced what it preached. i tried to take examples that might seem strange or new and compare them to something that might have existed a long time ago - somethig the reader might not even KNOW about. so doubling up information throughput like that "it made sense to make a dense and presentation-oriented book." a bit like saying "nanotech is another form of hunting and gathering." but if the readers don't know much about either nanotech or hunting and gathering then i wanted to also throw on pictures and "presentation" to support that learning. the book isn't for readers that aren't willing to work. anyway i've never read a book worth reading that didn't ask something of me in return. the book isn't full of recipes, but ingredients. i wrote the book to inspire as well as educate. so this means that there are at least two times when readers have to interact with what they're reading, once to understand (or at least personalise) and once to apply what they get out of it. it's only appropriate, anyway, for a book that addresses interactivity to ask for reader interaction with the ideas. as for the second, i write, largely, to learn. one of my goals for the book was to blow my own brain. so i put down a slew of ideas and (with the guiding hand of the good mr. kadrey), i was able to winnow out the important parts that i continue to publicly blab about. lastly, i spent about 6 months wetting the monitor with tears of frustration trying to get the book to look as it does. about 1/2 of my time in making this book was spent dealing with image permissions alone -- total nightmare. but in the end, because the book argues that images are so important to reactives, i would have felt like a jackass if i'd done anything else. and even the reactive of the book -- the flipbook animation that double-loops down into the 250+ page comic that runs along the bottom -- even that was an effort to practice my preachin. so these are some of the principles that guided the books presentation and density. there are things i would change, definitely (like calling "Interactive Narratives" "Reactives" among many others) but i'm generally still pleased with it. fortunately i'm now working on another book on ai characters and reactives, so things that i left out of pause & effect might get a second chance there. #2; about the paintings, photos, writing, illos, &c >that said, i hope pig will talk a little about how he personally reconciles his >work in interactive media with his more traditional artforms -- painting, >sculpture, photography, even his comics. part of the reason i did the book was to learn better how to paint. one day i was looking at work i'd done i was sorting through a pile of old canvasses and i realized that for years i have been trying to make visual narratives of people in my paintings. i keep trying to make people that would talk and tell a story, sort of floating in this space with really expressive eyes, but often, no mouths. they're (partly unintentionally) mute cadavers; ::::: http://boar.com/paints/2002/robespierre.html or http://boar.com/paints/2002/bad_brain_belinda.html or http://boar.com/paints/2001/portrait_m02.html now it seems to me the soul shapes the body. and painting is one of the few artforms capable of showing that. i'm trying to tell a story with these paintings; not one that i'm necessarily dictating, and not one that necessarily has a beginning or an end or even a plot - but one that describes a context and a series of events that create an outcome in the character's appearance. that's the goal. it's hard for me to do a lot harder than a reactive, and, unfortunately, i still have decades of work before i figure out how to do this right. so since the images have a tendency to frustrate me i also write, partly to construct stories for the paintings, to frame my photography, and, mostly, for the sake of writing, itself. writing is a little bit less of its own end for me than painting, but i use it to support images and vice versa. meanwhile as far as my long-term goals artistically i'm consciously heading myself off at the pass,,, 3dsmax-2-FLA conversions, PHP, AI, working out reactive narrative forms,,, all the computer hoohaw... i find it a bit boring, and sterile, really, but i feel the same way about pencil lead too. anyway the book never says that a reactive has to be digital. so the book, for me, was one way of learning how to weld together my three different working methods of image + text + computers. i used the book to teach myself about this, in a way, since there aren't other people i know working like this. ANYWAY what i'm doing here in amsterdam is finalizing working agreements with the WAAG on a major art / research project. we'll be building a conversational character as an art installation. for the last four years i've been working with paco xander nathan, marvin mann, and others on a scripted AI that has a fully cinematic story that's used to contextualize the interaction. the AI has emotional responses so he changes his story and how he's telling it to you as youre talking with him. but what i'm now working on what i've been trying so hard to make over these years - is a kind of cinematic portrait. in the end, zorc, paintbrush, pen and computer are just three tools that i'm trying to get into a 369. maybe something magical will come out of the munch. for now it's the best combination i can come up with. but the process is the lesson so there's still a long ways to go.
nape fest (zorca) Sat 22 Feb 03 01:22
wow. congrats on the installation. i'm sure many readers would like to hear a little more detail about the project. about how you see the 'cinematic portrait' evolving. can you give us a little more background?
pighed (pighed) Sat 22 Feb 03 06:35
yeh; http://bore.com/w/st_elmo/ this shows models, script, software architecture, personality design and, most importantly, music by less. its a lot of work, but i dont think reactives can exist otherwise. i'm also working on a comic based on this same character which.. no coincidence here .. is that same character that's in the flipbook / comic in pause & effect. so these things are all intended to work together, also.
The Phantom of the Arts Center (tinymonster) Sat 22 Feb 03 09:28
That is fascinating, Mark. Best of luck!
nape fest (zorca) Sat 22 Feb 03 09:52
so cool! i encourage all to go check out mark's project at http://bore.com/w/st_elmo/. come back and tell us what you think. i also second his enthusiasm for the band Less. some of you may know our pal stinkfoot. go check em out at http://www.less.com. so one thing that often comes up when discussing new and emerging technologies is the fact that, well, sex has often served to jumpstart things. there's plenty of documentation to back up the fact that naughty content drove the early videotape and cd-rom industries. interactive narrative is a little different animal, but do mark or any of our readers think this might be true in this case, as well?
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