Essay: The Underpinnings of My Work
During my time in the Interdisciplinary Practice and Emerging Forms program at the University of Houston, I’ve focused on transmedia storytelling. To me, it is the use of digital and analog media to tell narratives that span platforms. I’ve been keenly interested in how and why different media tell stories. Through research and experimentation, I’ve been learning how and why they do so, how to transition from one platform to the next that feels seamless, and how mixed realities add depth to a narrative.
Some media I’ve used to tell stories are: performance art, creative writing and poetry, photography, augmented reality, mobile games, social media, drawing, and dance, to name a few. Each media can be presented on a multitude of platforms, for instance: dance can be performed outside among the public, or on stage for a private audience; books can be hand-made and sold personally in local businesses, or commercially-made and sold to multitudes online. With different media and platforms come different audiences, and different audiences interact with stories based on the media and platform they are in/on.
I’ve consciously kept audience in mind as I’ve investigated media and platforms and created projects in each. For instance, Allyson Darke is a young adult novel told in pictures and words with interactive bonus features. Because young adult book readers are primarily female, I’ve built depth and emotion into the bonus features that are accessed through mobile devices. I’ve built a mobile card game that enriches the world of Allyson Darke while giving the audience more fae stories that are specifically cut short in the novel. It is a non-violent, non-binary game, meaning there is no victor and defeated, rather the player must use strategy to balance the opponents energy to collect them into their deck which will help the player unlock new regions with new lore and collect new fae and their stories. Not only is the structure of the story carefully crafted with the audience in mind, but so is the artwork and platform.
In my research on the modes of storytelling I’ve come to realize that each media does not have a pro and a con, because a pro could be a con in one context and visa versa, rather it has attributes. For instance, some of the attributes of a book are that it can be read anywhere the reader chooses to take it, it is linear, it must be held at a certain distance from the face to be read, it can have texture and smell, it is interactive (the reader must open the book and flip the pages), it can transport a reader into a heterotopia, it is a solitary experience, it allows room for the reader to imagine and build worlds in their mind. Whereas some of the attributes of a photograph are: it is stationary, it is visual, it is one snapshot, it is nearly scent-less, it can tell deep stories without words, it is on a flat 2D plane, it can be printed in a multitude of sizes depending on pixilation, it can be personal, it can be documentary, it can be framed and hung on a wall or loose and stored in a book or box.
I’m not re-inventing stories, or creating new stories, rather, I’m using ancient storytelling techniques and combining the familiar with emerging technologies to enhance specific stories, and to bring depth and emotion into them.