CW2: More Contextual Research – New Media & Interactive Cinema

Now that I’ve figured out that Lost Online will be a mixture of a game and a film, I need to find out where my FMP will sit contextually. Cambridge Dictionary defines the term new media as “products and services that provide information or entertainment using computers or the internet, and not by traditional methods such as television and newspapers” (2017). I find this definition to be quite basic, because if we followed it, almost anything today is part of new media, including Lost Online. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun gives an alternative definition; “fluid, individualized connectivity, a medium to distribute control and freedom.” (2006: 1). This sounds more like it! Based on this, I would think that Lost Online falls into the category of new media given that it will be made to be played individually on the internet, and allows freedom due to the fact that the player can make decisions on how the story will progress. However there are a few problems with the term new media, such as the question, “What makes new media new?”. According to Chun, “Computation may be key to new media, but computation does not automatically lead to new media” (2006: 2). This was an interesting point because it meant that Lost Online isn’t necessarily new media, just because it’s using computers and the Internet. In fact Chun claims that using the Internet in a medium is quite unoriginal in comparison to films and television when they were not part of mass media, especially because the Internet is not new, even back in 1995 (2006).

So I went on a hunt to find out what the factors of new media are. The book New Media: A Critical Introduction claims there are about six constituent parts to the term. I think Lost Online fits very well with the fourth constituent, “new experiences of the relationship between embodiment, identity and community” (Lister, M. et al. 2003: 12). This means there is a part of new media that creates a new experience for the audience and has the potential to impact the way in which people view themselves and the world. The reason I think this is because Lost Online will be showing the audience how their actions and choices have an effect on the world around them and the people they love, and this will be done through interactivity, a normal aspect in new media. As interactivity becomes commonplace, “the audience for new media becomes a ‘user’ rather than the ‘viewer'” (Lister, M. et al. 2003: 21). So will Lost Online be classified as new media? Definitely. Not only does it follow the basics of new media, such as using a computer and the Internet to create it, it is also going apply interactivity and could also possibly create a new experience for audiences.

But where is it within this category that Lost Online gravitates? Interactive Cinema is a section within new media, which I think my FMP will fit perfectly. As you can probably guess, this is essentially a film that can be interacted with. Kinoautomat (Činčera & Roháč 1967) is arguably the world’s first ever interactive film. At nine different points in the film, a moderator walks onto the stage and asks the audience to pick where they want the film’s narrative to go. Regardless of the choices the audience make the ending is always the same, ironically making the interactivity of the film moot.

(Moriarty, 2015)

Just as new media is a broad term, interactive media is too. England and Finney define it as, “the integration of digital media including combinations of electronic text, graphics, moving images, and sound, into a structured digital computerised environment that allows people to interact with the data for appropriate purposes.” (2011: 2). While this is still somewhat expansive, it narrows it down a lot. If we break down each part of the sentence, we can find that it is appropriate for Lost Online to be in this category. Interactive media is a mix of electronic text, graphics and moving images. This will be an integral part of the film given that it will be filmed through the screen of a Macbook, and will be using a range of social media websites. There will also be moving image in it, due to the Skype calls and videos filmed on mobile phones. What’s more it will be put into a digital computerised environment, i.e the Internet, on a website that I will create specifically for the film. The appropriate purposes for the interactivity is for the audience to be able to change the narrative.

Bibliography

Cambridge Dictionary (2017) New media meaning. Available at: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/new-media (Accessed: 24 January 2017).

Chun, W.H.K. and Keenan, T. (eds.) (2006) New media, old media: A history and theory reader. Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

England, E. and Finney, A. (2011) ATSF white Paper—Interactive media UK—©2002/2011 ATSF 1 interactive Media— what’s that? Who’s involved?Available at: http://www.atsf.co.uk/atsf/interactive_media.pdf (Accessed: 24 January 2017).

Lister, M. et al. (2003) New media: A critical introduction. London: Taylor & Francis.

Moriarty, B. (2015) Kinoautomat (1967): The First interactive movie. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vnI7DtqnSw (Accessed: 25 January 2017).

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