Multimedia storytelling

 

Introduction

 

In the desire of creating something new and original, numerous connections have been made among media platforms. Different terms – intermedia, transmedia and multimedia – have been assigned to define the employment of multiple media when transmitting a message. The term intermedia was first introduces by Dick Higgins of the Fluxus movement, who noticed that: “Much of the best work being produced today seems to fall between media” (Higgins cited in Visel, 2005). Therefore, new combinations were born by pairing old mediums. Transmedia was first introduced by Henry Jenkins and was designated for stories that unfold across multiple media platforms:

In the ideal form of transmedia storytelling, each medium does what it does best — so that a story might be introduced in a film, expanded through television, novels, and comics, and its world might be explored and experienced through game play. Each franchise entry needs to be self-contained enough to enable autonomous consumption. That is, you don't need to have seen the film to enjoy the game and vice-versa. (2003)

Transmedia artists try to expand the fictional world and minimize its border with the real world. Their goal is to increase the public’s emotional experience towards the story. Multimedia is a form of communication through multiple media. To prevent confusions upon what the term multimedia stands for, Marie-Laure Ryan (2004, 15-16) tries to explain and exemplify the two definitions assigned to the word medium in Webster’s Dictionary: the first one labels “a channel or system of communication, information, or entertainment” (TV, radio, the Internet, the gramophone, the telephone, books, newspaper etc.), while the other one signifies “material or technical means of artistic expression (painting, sculpture, photography, performance, music etc.). The term multimedia must be differentiated from mixed-media. The second involves the handling of multiple traditional visual arts in the process of creating an artwork (usually a collage), while multimedia primarily combines visual and non-visual content forms. In multimedia art on the other hand, the message is emphasized by the interaction of multiple art forms.

 

Multimedia composition is a new concept that has recently started to make its way through the digital art domain and to gain its own aesthetics. John Coulter tries to grasp a definition:

Multimedia composition is a term that is difficult to define. The name implies that a range of interdisciplinary craft practices will be employed in the creation of unified works of art that exhibit specialist sonic characteristics. Furthermore it implies a departure from the traditional and well established craft of musical composition and gravitation towards a conceptual or aesthetic framework that operates irrespective of specialist craft practice or media type. (2005)

Perhaps one of the most ambitious goals of multimedia composition is to reinvent the perception of time and space that was long explored by traditional art. The multimedia composer utilizes any form of art, traditional or digital, for the purpose of a symbiotic artistic expression. He meticulously plans and organizes every aspect of the employed media and creates a unified product. The artwork can be a real-time performance, an interactive installation or can take an innovative form. From a narratological point of view, multimedia composition accentuates the non-linear part of a narrative through the interaction between its components.

 

Further on, I will explore some of the main methods and compositional tools that I have employed in my multimedia pieces, while trying to keep an eye on their relation with the concepts of narrative and narrativity described in the previous chapter.

 

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