Lab for networked narratives.

Transmedia Documentation Master Class: Blog Post #2

The word “documentary” comes loaded with many connotations and assumptions. For many people a documentary is merely assumed to be a collection of facts. Or worse yet, it is considered some sort of ‘opposite’ of fiction. In this case I’d have to side with my favorite living German filmmaker Werner Herzog to say that it is neither facts or fiction which are relevant, but rather the communication of truth which is more important. To that end, yesterday in class we screened the Herzog documentary “Grizzly Man” and today screened “Gates of Heaven” by Errol Morris. These films provide us unusual takes on eccentric characters, multifaceted stories which include critical perspectives, as well as constructions for the camera – reenactments, stagings and subtle dramatizations which reveal deeper levels of meaning than conventional approaches.

Alongside these screenings I have been conducting one-on-one personal consultations with each participant in the class. The approaches to the theme are diverse; a modular boat-sharing system for Berlin’s waterways reminiscent of car-sharing; variations on a hammock hotel for various audiences; a short-term bike rental system with hybrid vehicles that can be slept in; a scheme for transporting the atmosphere of hotel rooms in the form of mood lighting. An important focus has been to get students thinking about specific audiences to jumpstart the process of telling the stories of their projects. We have used a service design technique involving mapping values from favorite objects and services to spark inspiration, asking questions like: How can a boat be soft like a bed? How can a hammock be independent like a backpack? How can a bicycle be fast like a computer? The answers to these questions can yield insights into product/service features as well as provide an outline of touchpoints for the narrative.

I’m looking forward to see how these projects turn out!

Transmedia Documentation Master Class: Blog Post #1

Nomad tent, Ouarzazate Province, Morocco by John Hope

This week I am conducting a master class workshop for the students of the Berliner Technische Kunsthochschule masters program in media spaces. This class is working on the thematic topic of Transient Living:

The main topic of this semester is to conduct extensive research and deliver innovative modes and models for situations that involve temporary, transient or ‘nomadic’ living. The area that can be used as research can span from new concepts for tourism (i.e. capsule, container or boutique hotels), apartment swaps (, living in the sky or on the road (business/first class lounges, caravans) to addressing the situation of nomadic workers (container cities in Dubai, China etc.).

Anything that deals with an environment that constitutes the notion of ‘temporary’ or ‘mobile’ living is a viable research area, past or present. This includes ideas that are rather futuristic and not necessarily possible to realize today. For example: would there be a feasible concept that would allow a hotel room to follow you wherever you are instead of you having to return to a fixed location every evening?

Today’s session included a series of screenings selected from our Design Fiction Vimeo channel as well as the presentation of case studies of some of KS12′s projects from the past three years. The focus was on the various possibilities afforded by different media; photos, videos, time lapse, maps, blogs, social media, games, events, interventions – each medium has its own unique advantages in telling certain types of stories. We also looked at the role that assuming a persona can play in creating a point of view from which to create documentation that blurs the line between documentary and fiction.

Because the weather is so nice we took the chance to have an ice cream at a newly opened ice cream parlor down the street from the school. I gave the students an introduction to Creative Commons as a tool for collaborative co-creation, explaining the differences between the suite of CC licenses. We explored the ways in which Vimeo, SoundCloud and Flickr have incorporated Creative Commons directly into their platforms.

After the break we took an in depth look at The Future of Money project and Early Stage, reviewing the various forms the storytelling took; Twitter hashtags, Quora questions, videoblogs, stand-alone video interviews, trailers, info graphics and photos. The rest of this week I’ll be spending in one-on-one consultations with each student as they prepare their final documentation of their projects for a presentation in class at the end of the week. Be in touch if you’d like to provide them an audience!

Another Dimension

We got older. And as we got older we realized we had rules. Not the rules of our parents. Not the rules of some big corporation or government. Rules of interaction, of engagement, etiquette even. We had grown up in a world of magical objects – things with attributes, properties, menus and options. And slowly we introduced this magic back out into the world – at least on the surface of things. In our desperation for control in a world more and more out of control, we began expressing these rules about objects in our aesthetics. Guided by visions of a near future in which the real and the virtual would be seamlessly blended, we created prototypes and simulations with increasingly higher fidelity. Yet the tyranny of the frame prevailed. Our rules collided with systems of another dimension. Stubbornly, we carried on building the simulacrum. We gritted our teeth, we dug in our heels, and we fought to stay lucid as our dreams shimmered across legions of rectangles.
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Our new video essay premieres next week at NODE

“Gabriel Shalom and Patrizia Kommerell’s (KS12) stories switch between fact and fiction. Their video essays, which mainly consist of interviews, experiment with new forms of narration, which originate from modes of production and association found in a digitally linked community. NODE13 commissioned KS12’s new work, which has been produced under the title ‘Another Dimension’ as a part of the Deutsche Börse Residency programme in Frankfurt.” – Thanks NODE for the nice words!

It would be great to see you at the premiere of Another Dimension next week:
Monday, February 11, 2013 – 20:00 (8PM) at the Frankfurter Kunstverein