Portobello and Pirouettes, or, Do We Always Need “Narrative” If We Have Content?


Presentation Title:

  • Portobello and Pirouettes, or, Do We Always Need “Narrative” If We Have Content?



  • All I hear about nowadays is “narrative” and “story”, yet wandering round London’s Portobello Market makes me wonder whether they really are prerequisites to making interactive movies. An evening visit to the ballet confirms my beliefs that neither of these are indeed necessary to produce interesting, novel, and rewarding work. Portobello is a familiar place to me yet seldom do I purchase anything there: the atmosphere is great, the smells and sounds, the way the stalls change from antiques via fruit to clothes and then to bric-a-brac. I love to observe it all from the balcony of Cafe Grove and really…I just like being there — it certainly doesn’t lack content! And I don’t believe there is a story or narrative in my relationship to it: just the “market” paradigm. Similarly, in some vague moments since childhood I have enjoyed rummaging around my granny’s attic. There are some amazing things in there that I haven’t yet uncovered, or at least I am sure they must be there, under the old tea chests and boxes. Even though it is some years since I last spent some time in the dust and must, I am happy just to know that granny’s attic is still there without always the need to explore it completely. In fact, perhaps that would ruin the mystique. Using paradigms other than the conventions of drama my own work attempts to subjugate or circumvent narrative and story whilst creating a meaningful and resonant experience to the viewer. In the same way that we recognize the characteristics of ballet, an original genre could exist which could be termed “interactive film art” or possibly “interactivity d’auteur”. Although the superficial resemblance to cinema is strong this work takes its direct influences from completely different things than dramatic structure and narrative. For the time being the level of interactivity is low and is determined by choosing routes through a repository of authorial material. Although in some quarters this is not looked upon as being at all special since the interactivity is mere exploration and selection, even to offer this on its own empowers the author of a totally new means of creating for the viewer. The resulting works can have a generic resemblance which is often lacking across the field of new media art. The presentation will be illustrated with much of this work and humor and emotion will feature strongly.