The Narrative Experience, 2 Ways: Cinema vs New Media Variability

For more clarity on Manovich’s analysis of Man with a Movie Camera (1929) or the differences he describes between cinematic narrative and new media narrative, such as The Dumpster (2006) by Golan Levin (more info in a separate post), and how these narratives access and represent their respective databases… you may find this interesting and helpful.

Both the Man with a Movie Camera (1929) and interactive new media works present “databases.”  The DATABASE is the explicit collection of data or information made available in each work.  Also, the paradigmatic rationale determines that all the bits of information collected as data are related to each other and then form a particular type of collection.  For Man with a Movie Camera, its database consists of scenes of Russian life, the data, from which they made the movie, including shots taken but not used.  (NOTE: Vertov makes this larger database explicit in the film by showing shots of various film clips being worked on in the editing room and of the archive or storage of the film clips.)  The paradigmatic database represents all related options from which the author/artist can select.  Moreover, both these database selections are experienced as narratives, but in different ways.

In the case of the movie, Dziga Vertov makes all the choices and as the viewer you only see or witness his SELECTIONS as the final product of the actually composed film.  The selections are viewed as a realized NARRATIVE, in a linear structure, in which the selected data is revealed one after another, to reveal a particular meaning about a subject or an object that progresses through the structure.  (The meaning is, in large part, about the “great Communist Russian society” and the camera man and you, the viewer, are witness to it.)  With a new media work, such as The Dumpster, the database also represents all the options from which the user/viewer/participant can select by interacting with the database through the new media interface.  (Obviously different paradigmatic requirements created the database of “break-ups” used in Levin’s The Dumpster, 2006.)  In new media, such as this site, the user/viewer/visitor has to make the SELECTIONS to activate or to construct the Narrative structure.   The narrative selected is particular to that user and reflects their subjective point of view.  The fact another user can navigate the data and make other selections particular to them is the principle of Narrative VARIABILITY which applies to Interactive New Media’s relationship to their databases.

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