Le récit interactif, tables rondes, 6 décembre 2000 — ENSAD-ARi, labEi, CIREN
  Le récit interactif à l'École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs, Paris

Le récit interactif | Langage et écritures: Jacques MORIZOT, Jean-Pierre BALPE, Anne CAUQUELIN, Georges LEGRADY, François Soulages, Liliane TERRIER || Images et dispositifs: Jean-Louis BOISSIER, Grahame WEINBREN, Raymond BELLOUR, Anne-Marie DUGUET, Timothy MURRAY

Le récit interactif : Images et dispositifs

Grahame WEINBREN Cinéaste, auteur d’installations interactives, éditeur du Millennium Film Journal, School of Visual Arts, New York

Grahame WEINBREN — Frames and Tunnels: Some Grammars for Interactive Narrative + Français

I have been developing an interactive cinema for almost twenty years. What attracted me in the first place? What keeps me working?

First and foremost, there is the expressive power of cinema itself.
Second there is the fact that the medium in its standard forms is bloated and exhausted.

New technologies have always opened possibilities for a more energetic expression And in the case of cinema, the Veridical is always an attraction. The possibility of including, in our representations of reality, the fact that we affect the world of our perception — this is the basic attraction. So the idea of the interactive is compelling in itself.

First question: if there is to be an interactive narrative cinema, what narrative structures will it employ? Will it tell the same stories with the addition of the feature of user input (old wine, new bottles) or are entirely different structures called for? Old stories told in new ways or new stories?

— The general answer to is – a bit of both. But the notion of linearity in narrative is a focal issue. We need to find structures that call out for viewer input.

— My work as an interactive cinema producer, has been the search for and application of different forms of solution to these problems. Some have been more successful than others.

— My general ideas always grow out of my practice, and not vice versa. So it is most useful to present works to demonstrate concepts of structure and grammar in interactive narrative.

My first works, The Erl King and Sonata used existing stories and retold them under the cloak of interactivity. It is not that interactivity is an element that can be added to a depiction—like souind or color—but making a work interactive undoubtedly changes the way that it speaks and what it can say. Both The Erl King and Sonata consist of a set of connected stories, and both of them use a straightforward cinematic grammatical device as a navigational tool – the device of the interactive cutaway. The image produced by user input is, in the mind of the viewer, heavily related to the base image from which it "cuts away"– and this frees meaning in a number of ways that can be seen in the examples I will show. However, the stories in both pieces are, by and large, straightforward beginning-middle-end stories – in Sonata the point of view from which the stories are told can be manipulated by the viewer, but at the base level, the events of the stories remain intact. The interactive structures appear in the relationships between the stories, relationaships which the viewer uncovers as he works through the piece..

There is one exception – the narrative of the Wolfman’s dream analysis, as recorded by Freud, is not a linear story – it demands a non-linear story form, as Freud himself recognized, and thus suits a fungible medium much more readily.

More recent works have more or less abandoned the Aristotelian story structures:

The book is of course the ideal medium for non-linear works, and there are many examples of multilinear narratives in literature, especially in ‘postmodern’ writing. Currently I am looking at lierary forms and structures for models to use in an upcoming work.

  • March leaves a viewer in the endless middle of the story, with its ending tantalizingly presented above the viewer’s head
    Frames metaphorically allows the user to ‘make’ the story – he transforms a contemporary actress into 19th century madwomen, and this transformation is the time-line of the piece, while the narrative is in the complexities of the relationship of photographer to subject, and photograph to ‘reader’. This is a highly non-linear narrative structure, and one that can only be fully expressed in a non-linear medium.
    Tunnel is structured by the viewer’s movement through a Tunnel – and the narrative is the tongue-in-cheek linearity of the viewer’s travel.

  • Grahame
    Proposal for NCC
    Tokyo 1999

    Graham Weinbren
    Le Tunnel
    Dortmund, Germany 2000