The Interactive Village: ethnography and narrative

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Presentation Title:

  • The Interactive Village: ethnography and narrative

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Abstract:

  • Part of the NM2 research project: http://www.ist-nm2.org, The Interactive Village is a reconfigurable documentary production for broadband delivery. The production and the development of media tools (designed to deliver the documentary content) ran concurrently – cross-referencing and informing each other throughout the three-year project. The result is a human-interest viewing space, based on village life in the Czech Republic, through which users can navigate routes of their choice selecting scenes, interviews, activities and commentary. The production takes its frame of reference from three main sources:

    1.  Visual: the narrative structures used in factually-based television programmes.
    2.  Theoretical: issues, debates and guidelines derived from Visual Anthropology and ethnographic film
    3.  Perceptual: users’ engagement with subject-matter informed by ‘ecological’ theories of perception

    The production developed a unique shooting method for reconfigurable delivery gathering an ‘organic’ collation of audio-visual material. Clusters of inter-related and cross-referenced information were formulated into a loose framework from which users organise personalized narratives. The Interactive Village interface enables the following modes:

    1. Observational: the end-user sits back and watches randomly assembled clips of village activity
    2. Didactic: the user chooses explanations for the viewing material selected from a variety of sources: different inhabitants (e.g. mayor or newsagent) or from different experts (e.g. male or female, history or contemporary commentary).
    3. Journalistic: the user assembles a documentary of their subject of interest from the available material (e.g. the village fire fighters or rural transport issues).

    In turn, these modes are also available as Basic; Intermediate; or Advanced narratives that specify both the duration and complexity of the chosen subject(s). Finally, the paper looks to future developments of the production to include: an automatic registering and delivery of the user’s retrospections and anticipations and the setting-up of a European-wide network of Interactive Villages.

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