tirsdag, september 01, 2015

Memory, meaning and transmediality, Sept. 1st 2015

Hajo Backe will start the teaching with going through details on narrativity. Hajo has cooked up a storm of vital points, and you'll have to stay sharp to stay with him, so keep your pens ready!

Hajo cites Marie-Laure Ryan, and we have an article by her on the reading list, but not until part 4. Feel free to look it up later. It's not the same article, but it covers the same topic.

Ryan, Marie Laure (2013): ”Transmedial Storytelling and Transfictionality,” in Poetics Today 34:3 (Fall 2013). DOI 10.1215/033353722325250.
Pixar's doctrine of storytelling in 22 tweets.
A PDF further discussing the 22 Pixar doctrine tweets.

Torill's part:

Depending on how much time we have, we will look at a part from "The Animatrix", see Jenkins' article on "The Origami Unicorn".

Starting with Bolter and Grusin's article from Remediation (here is a link to a review of the book and a short glossary) we will discuss convergence:
  • The pulling together of all media (p 222) 
  • Traditional and digital media coexist
  • Ubiquitous computing
  • Commercialization and economic thresholds
And it is almost as if the medium transcends any particular technology; it needs no computer. Instead, information cascades from device to device, seeking you out. The unimpeded flow is what matters. (Bolter and Grusin 1998:223)
Convergence is the mutual remediation for at least three important technologies - telephone, television and computer - each of which is a hybrid of technical, social and economic practice and each of which offers its own path to immediacy. (Bolter and Grusin 1998:224)
  •  No medium will fully replace the other (p 225)
  • The new 'net is an amusement park - coming at you with experiences
  • Push media will seek us out (p 226)
Next step is Jenkins's article from Convergence Culture, and we will discuss convergence as background for transmedial franchises:
The Matrix is entertainment for the age of media convergence, integrating multiple texts to create a narrative so large that it cannot be contained within a single medium. (Jenkins 2006:95)
  • Larger, more ambitious works (Film, animation, comics, games, all working together to create meaning.) (p 96)
  • Collaborative cooperation with audience/consumers 
Umberto Eco asks what, beyond being loved, transforms a film such as Casablanca (1942) into a cult artifact. First, he argues, the work must come to us as a «completely furnished world so that its fans can quote characters and episodes as if they were aspects of the private sectarian world.» Second, the work must be encyclopedic, containing a rich array of information that can be drilled, practiced and mastered by devoted consumers. (Jenkins 2006:97)
  • No need for coherence (p 98)
  • Great variety in directions and hence - audiences
  • Needs to reveal more the deeper the users/readers/viewers go into the text
  • The problem of reviewing transmedial worlds/stories (p 104)
  • Licensing and Franchises and the redundancy of remediated repetitions
  • Different styles of directing, creative control vs liberty and co-creation (p 109)
  • The importance of hybridity (p 112)
More and more, storytelling has become the art of world building, as artists create compelling environments that cannot be fully explored or exhausted within a single work or even a single medium. The world is bigger than the film, bigger even than the franchise - since fan speculations and elaborations also expend the world in a variety of directions. (Jenkins 2006:114)
  • Murray and the encyclopedic capacity of digital media
  • Triggering the search for meaning (p 122) 
We continue after this dive into Jenkins' analysis of one particular transmedia franchise, and look at
Giovagnoli (2011): Transmedia Storytelling, pages 18-33. Here we will focus on transmedia definitions: 
  • Semantic basin by Durand - the term for the "spirit" of the time. See also this article.
  • The Renaissance workshop as model for creation
  • Games and quests
  • Cosplayers and fandom
All the games are related to the background of the characters, moving thgouth the various media, through the present time of the plane crash and the flashback of the characters lives before the airplane crash. All of these are strengths of LOST, but what is the worst part of this transmedia experience? The interoperability. In other words, you can watch LOST on TV, you can play it, relieve or collect it, but it is impossible for anyone to influence the story. (Giovagnilo 2011:28)
And this is where we come to the final point, the conclusion of the whole last part of today's lecture: Lemke, Jay (2009): ”Multimodal Genres and Transmedial traversals: Social Semiotics and the Political Economy of the Sign,” in Semiotica 173-1/4, 283-297. DOI 10.1515/SEMI.2009.012. Here we discuss how we already create meaning across media, and how semiotics can help us track that:

As meaning-makers, we live across institutions and media and we make meanings that no single medium or institution can control. (Lemke 2009:283)
  • Activity
  • Social-interpersonal relationships being constructed
  • Channel
  • Genre (from repetition)
The underlying semiotic structure of meaningful human action is the common denominator that allows all semiotic resource systems to be meaningfully combined in multimodal genres.
  • Metafunctions: Presentational, Orientational, Organisational
  • But what happens when signs from different systems are used to make meaning together?
  • Comics and multimodality
  • Syntagms in image/music/text "syntagms are not given. They are construed by interpreters."
Eisenstein also points us towards the role of montage or juxtaposition effects in the creation of multimedia syntagms. They rely on what psychologists call perceptual closure, but which I think semioticians might better regard as the irrepressibility of meaning-making. We do not merely complete basic perceptual patterns; we will make meaningful wholes, however slight the a¤ordance of the material basis for doing so. Even if there is no synchronization, no homology or congruence, if signs of the same or different semiotics are presented to us in any degree of juxtaposition in space or time, we eagerly try to construe their meanings as codependent, i.e., we tend to construe syntagms, even multimodal syntagms, at the slightest suggestion. (Lemke 2009:287)

The Kuleshov effect
In analyzing the meaning-effects of transmedia franchises, we need to understand the economic imperatives of mass-markets, where there is a careful calculation of the relative advantage of creating media that appeal to the widest possible range of consumers versus those whose appeal to a particular market is based on contrasting its identity and image with those of other markets. (Lemke 2009:293)

Lemke rounds off the analysis by discussing the political consequence of transmedial advertising, but our main take-away from this article should be about how semiotics in itself is a system for uncovering meaning across a multitude of platforms.