Context is such a powerful aspect of formulating comprehension and knowledge with in a narrative. Context becomes an integral element with in narrative because is can be acted upon by multiple factors both internally (in the narrative), and externally (by readers experience, knowledge, and curiosity).
“Principles of design:
1. Use both knowledge in the world and knowledge in the head.
2. Simplify the structure of tasks.
3. Make things visible: bridge gulfs between Execution and Evaluation.
4. Get the mappings right.
5. Exploit the power of constraints.
6. Design for error.
7. When all else fails, standardize.”
— Donald A. Norman (The Design of Everyday Things)
The interface of book is intuitive therefore should be leveraged within an interface. A (physical) book has the affordance of tactility, portability, and price. Because of this, I think that the book can have an interactive aspect that utilizes its current form. The book is a very intuitive object / artifact. Since everyone understand how to flip though pages, I figured I would prototype a way to access the interaction for the purposes of the archive. The opening of pages then becomes self aware and the content of the archive become more seamlessly accessible. Instead of the interaction of the interactive narrative be two staged, ie read book then look at archive, I am proposing a book and archive system that can be experienced simultaneously allowing the user / reader to be engrossed in the experience of the book and archive.
First prototype is using a series of copper tape switchs that cause a MAKE microcontroller to interact with flash connecting to a screen
The Interactive Narrative Podium is a content and context elicitation system that allows the book to keep its current form but engage content, context, and information through the pages of the narrative.
The book can be read with or with out the system. Allowing the reader / user to envelop themselves in the narrative in the pages or the context of the image archive.
The Imaginary 20th Century is written around the a 3000 image archive. The archive exists as the context establishment for the narrative therefore the Podium Narrative System is a concept
that allows that archive to be accessed through the specific pages with in the piece of fiction. The reader and user of the system can have the reading and the context images exist simultaneously assiting in filling in holes for the narrative of the book.
The interactive podium allows the reader / user to access content with in the archive through the phyiscal book. The narrative in the book and the archive interface then are symbotic in there relationship playing off each other to both enhanse the narrative and give content to the context of the archive.
This Video-Prototype is a process that attempts to explore the ideas of context and content aware books. The concept imagines a future where screens are flexible and attempts to highlight an interactive book system where the book jacket becomes the interactive interface for the narrative with an image archive for visual context. The screen is removed from the cover of the book and then used as portal into the image database that backs up the narrative with in the book.
The drive to replace the physical book with technology is evident. I believe that a book is an ample form for narrative and that interaction should exist as a way to enforce the narrative that exists with in the pages. The flexible nature of the interactive book jacket allows the book to stay mobile, tactile, and intimate.
1. a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.
2. a book, literary work, etc., containing such a story.
3. the art, technique, or process of narrating
As ubiquitous computing escalates, the expectation that a computer user should adapt to the machine and not the other way around is faulty. “Therefore we are trying to conceive a new way of thinking about computers (interfaces) in the world, one that takes into account the natural human environment and allows the computers (interfaces) themselves to vanish into the background.”
- Mark Weiser (The Computer for the 20th Century-1991)
The idea of “invisible computing” has compelled me to explore the possibilities of what a book + computation can be contrary to the alternative of a computational book ie. The Kindle. “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” -Mark Weiser (The Computer for the 20th Century-1991)
A book interface is an incredible intuitive system with very few rules. The simplicity of left to right up to down front to back (western format) is quickly understood by anyone who has ever picked up a book. On the contrary interfaces like those in web pages etc require a lot more learning and understanding of the computer systems and the particular customs of the mouse keyboard and screen. The concept of a 3rd form allows the pages of the book to remain printed and tactile. The interface for the computation is then linked with the interface for the book. The concept for a 3rd form leverages the customs of the existing book.
As interactive narrative becomes more and more prevalent, the idea that existing narrative structures and formats can be retrofitted to an interactive format suggests a clear misunderstanding of interaction. Just as books have to be rewritten for screenplays for movies, a book written for the narrative printed format should not just be thrust into the interactive arena.
Along with a 3rd form I am suggesting a 3rd format of writing. Just as books have over time adjusted to the changing of readers, so must the format for writing for interactive. The form must be considered in the format.
The Imaginary 20th Century is a narrative that has started to explore a possible change in format. The narrative within the fiction is inspired and written along side an archive of some 3000 image from the turn of the century. The images in the archive are not illustrative to the narrative but do give access to context and a backdrop for the plot. With in the narrative there are number “narrative hooks” which play heavily on the archive and its ability to establish context for the reader. The narrative utilizes a Picturesque approach which give the novel an episodal content structure. The importance of the archive is useful in the back and forth between narrative and the context that helps make sense of the dense language.
The Interactive Narrative Design Research will explore the possibilities and potentials of this suggested 3rd form and format. The use of prototypes, video prototypes, and design dialog will pose the questions of :
Why a 3rd form?
What is a expected from the user and writer?
What is the narrative experience and how is it different?
What aspects are interactive and what is the expectations of interactive?
Any narrative is more enjoyable and understandable if the listener/reader of such a narrative has some connection beyond the characters in the narrative. Therefore as an American my perspective helps add to my understanding of a narrative that takes place in America whether it’s a book, a movie, or a third interactive.
Perspective is fueled by context, the context with in the narrative and the context of the reader/user. I have never been to Paris and when I read a narrative, like Dan Brown’s De Vinci Code, I am forced to use the descriptors of the place with in the novel for context. Now just because I have never been to Paris physically does not mean that I am completely unfamiliar with the location. Because of the internet, I have seen images on a more personal and internal level of Paris than in any other time in history. I can instantly be swept away to any place on the globe including Paris at the touch of an interactive web browser and an wifi connection.
The visual archive of the world provided by the internet gives a viewer a visual context. The saying that: “a picture says 1000 words” is given even more potency when that image is completing the context with in a narrative. Images apply a visual context while the narrative within the words plays a emotional context. The back and forth between the visual context and the emotional context fills in the perspective for the viewer/reader. Norman Klein calls the back and forth of context in the formulation of perspective as the “Mental Aperture”. He has stated “a narrative can not be too visually descriptive or too emotional descriptive because it leaves out room for the reader to engage their own context and perspective with in the narrative. With out a back and forth between the reader and the words there isn’t any pop any reason to care or continue reading.”
Interactive narrative thus must utalize the ability to give the reader/user context. Context is a interesting aspect of any narrative because as a variable it can not be defined or set for each user/reader. Every reader of a narrative brings in his/her own context and then hopefully leaves after finishing the narrative with an altered perspective whether that be emotionally or visually.
The Los Angeles Theater is a historic structure with an interesting past. Film has, since is creation, been an amazing carrier of narrative. From the early silent black and white films to today’s 3d formats. The interaction within film is the experience of the place especially when viewing in a theater. Theaters like the Los Angeles Theatre recognized and celebrated the encompassing experience that watching movies accomplished for its users. The ability for users to be enveloped in the experience is what keeps the movie industry alive and its ability to advance narratives has been immense. The flip book is keep sake of the experience of the Los Angeles Theater and Tavern. The physical nature of the flip book puts the user in control of the frames and becomes a reason for user to remember the tavern and the experience. The flip book is a scene from the first movie ever shown in the historic theater, City Lights, 1931
The Los Angeles Theatre is a space that I think could be reinvented for a alternative use, rather than sitting vacant for all but about 5 to 10 day a year. The revamped theater could be a bar/taven that could bolster the rich and entertaining movie industry. The theater could cater to patrons of movie making magic and niche fans of movies. The example of charlie chaplin week was chosen because of his involvment in keeping and funding the construction of the theater back in the 1930′s. The movie “City Lights” was the first movie to show at the theater.
After settling on a Los Angeles Theatre, I was incredible discusted in the fact that the theater was not being used or offered up to Los Angelinos like myself. The discust led to an invention of a narrative possibilty for the location. The fictionsl newspaper article tells the story of Los Angeles Theater’s revival through converting the theater into a bar/taven and the use of new technologies that allow patron of the bar to experience the rich film history of the theater and Los Angeles. The idea is that Los Angeles Theater could be a leader in trying to define and give Los Angeles (the city) a much need identity. The theater district in Downtown Los Angeles could be a location at which could make Downtown a more desirable location for the city to invest and bolster there identity and history.