Non­lin­ear Nar­ra­tive as a Con­cep­tual Frame­work for Media Art


Session Title:

  • The Volatility and Stability of WorldMaking as Techné

Presentation Title:

  • Non­lin­ear Nar­ra­tive as a Con­cep­tual Frame­work for Media Art



  • Panel: The Volatility and Stability of WorldMaking as Techné

    This ar­ti­cle is a dis­cus­sion of the core tech­ni­cal and aes­thetic mo­ti­va­tions be­hind my work as a media artist, which is built upon a non­lin­ear model of nar­ra­tive form. The ap­proach to ad­dress­ing nar­ra­tive is­sues in my work is de­rived from think­ing of nar­ra­tive not only as a story, but also as a model of knowl­edge. The ques­tion of non­lin­ear nar­ra­tive is an epis­te­mo­log­i­cal ex­plo­ration, and the sto­ries we tell each other and our­selves are con­nected to the way we know, in terms of both con­tent and struc­ture. The struc­tures of my works de­part from this per­spec­tive. There­fore, I see my works as knowl­edge spaces that are a con­cep­tual re­flec­tion of a mod­ern un­der­stand­ing of knowl­edge and na­ture as a non­lin­ear nar­ra­tive. Non­lin­ear nar­ra­tives are qual­i­ta­tively trans­modal (sep­a­ra­tion of data and rep­re­sen­ta­tion), par­tic­i­pa­tory (con­sumers and writ­ers are one in the same), and in­de­ter­mi­nate (the con­tent and struc­ture of in­for­ma­tion changes un­pre­dictably). The qual­i­ties of non­lin­ear nar­ra­tives are not only flex­i­ble; there is no steady state, they are in con­stant flux. The qual­i­ties of non­lin­ear nar­ra­tives exist on strata, one is bound to the other, but they vary in­de­pen­dently. It is the com­bi­na­tion, trans­for­ma­tion, and re­com­bi­na­tion of these vary­ing qual­i­ties that re­sults in the chang­ing per­sonae of non­lin­ear nar­ra­tives.

    The chal­lenge of cap­tur­ing the qual­i­ties of non­lin­ear nar­ra­tives has led me to de­velop an ab­stract model use­ful in the con­cep­tual analy­sis and prac­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment of non­lin­ear nar­ra­tive in my work. This model is based on a com­pos­ite of op­er­a­tions (data gen­er­a­tors), struc­tures (scaf­folds for data flow), and char­ac­ter­is­tics (the in­ter­ac­tive input and out­put rep­re­sen­ta­tion of data), re­sult­ing in the emer­gence of the qual­i­ties of non­lin­ear nar­ra­tive de­scribed above. In this ar­ti­cle I will de­scribe the con­cepts and de­vel­op­ment of the non­lin­ear nar­ra­tive model de­scribed above. The terms and ideas pre­sented in sup­port of the con­cepts put forth in this ar­ti­cle are de­rived from a va­ri­ety of sources, in­clud­ing the his­to­ries of art, music, and lit­er­a­ture; con­cepts in phi­los­o­phy (in par­tic­u­lar Deleuzeian phi­los­o­phy); and pat­tern lan­guage as found in the field of soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing.