Blog 9 – 3 videos about storytelling

Basic stories engage our attention because they are sequences of events in the purest form. They are just one thing that leads to another thing that makes us viewers or listeners raise questions and the writing gives us the answers. We have to look at why we want to listen to the story, it is the hook or moment of reflection that keeps us wanting more. In my story, I want to create a simple story that keeps people wondering what’s going on and what’s going to happen when I click on the next pop-up. One of the main problems we have as writers of short stories today is that technology is everywhere, so many people have a lot of the same things going on and we need to take a look at what makes our story unique compared to what everyone else is doing. We have to make it worth the reader’s time since they have selected our story to read. Andrew Stanton said in his TED, “know your punchline, your ending, knowing that everything you are saying from the first sentence to the last is leading to a singular goal.” We have to intentionally withhold information and answer that question because of people’s attention spans these days. Another thing we need to do as writers is to sometimes withhold dialogue and use picture or video to capture the scene, as Stanton said it is the purest form of storytelling. In my story, I have characters such as a vehicle and a bullet point to click on but the vehicle is key to looking at and making the reader want to click each area to see what the story is with that. I am trying to capture the truth from my own experiences that I am drawing in my audience with so I guess I could somewhat be using the clickables as BAIT.

Symbol, Index, and Icon

I chose to look at Tachistoscope, which was a really interesting work. The first thing I noticed was the pulsing circle, an index telling the reading where their eye should fall on the page. The first page has a large circle, surrounded by many little ones, clearly indicating a menu and a beginning to the work. One thing I found somewhat odd what that there were smaller pulsing circles around individual icons/symbols, which also indicated that they were clickable. The interesting part was that the circle moved randomly between links, and did not indicate which link you were hovering on, which is what I expected.

The menu links are a collection of symbols and icons. There’s one, “falling onto the void” that is a black hole beneath the text, clearly being a likeness of the idea of the void. Other menu links, however, were more symbol than icon. The skull and bones for “subliminals in the www” was trying to portray the idea, but the representation of the skull and crossbones being something to be wary of, “poison” is an agreed upon idea by our society and not a direct depiction of what it’s representing.

In the work itself, a series of symbols appear behind the text, each flashing and changing quickly. It was difficult to tell, but I don’t believe any of the graphics directly related to the word itself, leading me to think they were more symbols. I think the artist was trying to evoke certain ideas of feelings that may have been in conflict or contrast with the text, and playing with the idea of how one effected the other when we have only a split second to connect them.

I see a lot of use for using index in my project- especially for drawing attention to the “click click” that carries throughout the story. Perhaps even a tick-tocking sound to indicate the passage of time. Using indexes to help guide the reader easily through the navigation of the story will be really helpful too. Symbols and icons I see being most useful when trying to make images less specific, more abstract and generally relatable. If that’s paired with effective use of symbol and icon, then those simple images can communicate more universal ideas rather than individual, personal ones.

Symbols in Hypermedia

I chose to examine Inanimate Alice. I had previously viewed part of it in another class, but only a sample. I wanted a chance to read through more of it and further explore the themes as well as the symbolism. This piece of hypermedia uses a variety of methods and styles such as gifs, images, and even sound, to further draw the reader into the story.

The very words and language reflect the narrator well, as she is only a little girl. The focus even goes along with her priorities, with her focusing on her handheld game throughout a majority of it. She even slowly picks up on her mother’s anxiety, just as a young girl would.

I found that the story was conveyed quite well. The reader could see through Alice’s eyes and even hear what she heard. Suspense built slowly using the various symbols and mediums, drawing the reader in all the more. The images are bright and vivid, reflecting the theme and painting a clear picture of what Alice’s life was like.

For my story, I hope to convey similar childish emotions and viewpoints through the way that the story is told. Since the main character is a young boy, I will use simpler language and attempt to divide his focus just like Alice. Both characters are constantly using a portable gaming system, so it’s easy to draw a parallel there. I also want to use simplified images to identify his surroundings, since he is not as focused on describing them and more absorbed in what he’s doing.

HYPERTEXT & HYPERMEDIA

I chose to examine the The Shootout by Alan Bigelow, which, i believe would be considered a soty in a hypertext format. Marie-Laure Ryan,  argues the many digital story formats are not stories as according to Plato’s view. She believes that video games tend to lack a narrative background, and those that do tend to be pushed to the side.

The shootout has a linear story, with alternate endings but it is essentially read like a traditional paper story, with visual, and audible cues that might be found in a play. The shootout has a coherent story as you can tell you are in wild west environment, in a saloon, and you can tell the time era. You know the characters by how they speak, their names, and quirks.

What kept me visually engaged is the sprinkled  visuals, and gif’s they really feel like you are looking at a telegram, or that you are moving a coin closer to your eye. Some of the faces taken from old western actors gives some great cues as to the setting as we can all relate back a western film we have seen. There are also some good audio that gives strong cues, horses, saloon music, background conversation all add to the setting in the saloon.

The story tries to bring you into the thoughts of of the character, as at one point the character is recalling a past event. The story is quite clear even though you do not visually see the actions of the characters, for example, a character uses the toilet but we only hear the flushing sound to understand what happened. You are clicking through the story at that is the only interactivity until the ending. The sequencing is very linear until the actual shootout itself. The reader has the option to select their endings and is encouraged to  explore.

Blog Post – Hypermedia: Symbol, Index, Icon

The work Inanimate Alice makes use of signs and symbols throughout its narrative storytelling as placeholders for descriptive details that the text alone does not provide. The main character’s perspective is that of a child, and the story makes constant use of signs and images that the child has either seen, drawn, or imagined. These often include the child’s drawn character Brad and her toys that she plays games on. Additionally, the story makes  use of hypermedia in its combination of icons for buttons on the screen’s edge where each acts as an entry to an earlier point in the story when clicked on, as well as acting as narrative icons when the character is operating a digital device for a scene.

While most of the images do not hold narrative importance on their own, they do provide a consistent conveying of information through their abstract group, painting a broader picture of the surrounding world while revealing very little. I felt that the house schematics and polygon formation of the jeep are examples of these additional details in that they provide a bare bones picture of the overall object, leaving the viewer to fill in the details much like many other aspects of this work. One detail of icons that I enjoy though was the scene where the viewer had to take snapshots of passing flowers with cursor that had been changed into the character’s digital device

For my project, my use of signs will primarily be implied negative space shapes and Japanese characters, the latter of which acting simply as foreign symbols for viewers that do not know the language. In regards to the negative space, I plan to continue showing concepts in abstract lines cutting through other colors such as the white river cutting through black in my Kappa typographic project.

Blog Post – Hypertext & Hypermedia

My Body is an imaginative work showcasing non-linear narrative through the use of hypertext media, as for whether or not it is a story, I believe that is best left up to interpretation. Technically, I would classify the work as a story in that it provides a reader contextual information regarding a character and their life, be it nonfiction or otherwise, but I would not consider it a story in most uses of the word.

As for the work’s implementation of hypertext, it does so in a plain but artistic way with its use of black and white to contrast with one another in overall picture. Each section of the body can be expanded upon for further details that reveal more of the underlying story within the work, and each section is distinctly eye catching in due to the hand sketched appearance of each item of interest.

However, once a link is clicked, a user is likely to not visit the main page anytime soon as they may find themselves cycling through a series of web links within the expanded pages, and it is there where a reader finds themselves in an unfolding narrative loop.The reader will, eventually, click on each link within the work, but until then they are left in the direction and pace.

Lastly, the use of realistic drawings leading to shared life experiences bring a distinct quality to the work in that as the reader selects each body part a ‘picture’ of the whole person begins to form the more that is learned about the character. In a way, the character does this as well as each expanded page writes from the character’s younger and growing up perspective, discovering her body with curiosity much like the reader when selecting between the various body parts for expanded information.

Blog 8- Symbol,Index,Icon

           After briefly reviewing the other works, I decided on the story Inanimate Alice by Kate Pullinger. I first watched this in Dr. Rabby’s DTC 101 class and it was really cool how you seem to be taken for a ride in her everyday life. I really enjoyed how smoothly this story is told with little dialogue. Without the video loops or GIF’s, I’m not sure this would be a very good story though. Everything in this story works harmoniously to tell a story of this little girl’s life in a different place. I really like that there is little text and the pics help tell the story. The visual helps you see what’s going on so you do not need a bunch of text in this style to be effective. I think this is something I am going to try in my final project. I feel the story I \have in mind will be told more thoroughly through GIF and picture with little text. I think a mixture of icons that are clickable and signs that give you a visual can make for a pretty good short story that will be effective to give the reader a full view of what’s going on. I also enjoyed the Emoji style book but with that many symbols to decipher it tends to be a tedious read and I got a little bored trying to figure out each sentence, in this case, I am not sure if the icons were effective but that’s just my opinion. For the rest, I felt a little bored reading them and a few lost my attention right away such as filmtext. I thought it was really hard to read the text because it got lost in the symbols in the background. All in all, each one gave me some ideas to work towards my final project.

Blog Post – Cinema Language

After watching An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge and then reading it’s literary predecessor, two distinct differences were apparent I felt. The first is that the written story includes exposition as to who are main character is, that being a southern slave owner who had went to the bridge after previously discussing with a soldier on how flammable the bridge might be.

Suffice to say, a film not containing this exposition as to why the character was near the bridge in the first place will have a very different narrative and mood about it, which brings me to second difference between the two stories; time. The book is a short read while the film is over twenty minutes long. Much of the films shots are slow, steady perspectives, where the camera shots intentionally highlight small but beautiful details of the natural world. It is here where the film shines as it extends the written visual from the story and displays it in real time for the viewer. The written story touches on the sparkling of the sand grains or how beautiful the world was to a character that experienced it with exhilarated delight, and where words on a page are passed within seconds the films decides to add time to appreciate each detail.

Such an example is the moment that occurs in both stories, that being the sergeant ordering his troops to fire. While the written version only writes the sergeants commands on a single line before continuing the scene, the film adds the realistic moment of silence between sergeants words. In addition, the camera reveals more details of the scene, such as the silent stares of the soldiers lined up on the banks and the main characters look from below in the water, altogether bringing real tension to an otherwise shortly written line of dialogue.

Hypertext Media

     *I emailed this earlier, but I am now able to post on the blog again*

I decided to look over “My Boyfriend Came Back From the War.” I have read similar styles of hypertext stories before and it really caught my eye. It reminded me of the style of the story “Inanimate Alice” in that it was interactive. However, I would say this story is more interactive because the viewer can click more than just an arrow at the bottom of the page. The style of this narrative is also what I aim to accomplish with my final project. I love being able to select what comes next in the story, clicking different things to unlock new dialogue. It really draws the reader in, and makes them feel connected to the story in a whole new way. I believe 100% that hypertext media can be considered a story. It has all the elements, they’re just not always as obvious. Sometimes you have to explore the page more to get the whole story, or view all the images included. It is a story that may even “write itself” so to speak, as the reader chooses what to select next.  

Video games can also be a great way to tell a story, and are much more interactive in that the character can move through the world in which it takes place in. However, often players find themselves too immersed in the tasks or trying to score highly in the game to actually take time, stop, and enjoy the story. I believe that hypertext media narrows down that focus, drawing the reader into the story itself more than what is beyond it. There is also a sense of abstract to all of it. The reader can interpret it however they choose, providing endless theories and ideas that can all come together to make something entirely new within their own mind. 

For my story, I want to incorporate this sense of abstract, perhaps through silhouettes like in my visual narrative. I want the reader to be able to discover additional text depending on where they click and discover more sides to the story. I believe it’s a simple way to embrace that “Choose Your Own Adventure” style that we are all so fond of in media today. 

Hypertext and “My Body”

I chose Shelley Jackson’s My Body because I think early hypertext is particularly interesting considering the limited environments they worked in, and the trails they were blazing. It definitely falls into what Marie-Laure Ryan called classical hypertext- a network of lexia with external/exploratory interactivity. I was immediately drawn in my the first page- the image of her body, with different sections clickable. I was a bit disappointed that I never found myself back to that navigation point- it would have been interesting to get through story by navigating through her body. After that first click though, the story carried on through clicking on random links throughout the subsequent pages. It took a while before I finally ran out of links to click and the story was “done”.  One thing I’ve noticed about early hypertext is it’s often hard to know when it’s the end. The reader chooses both the path and when to leave it, which can leave a sense of wandering instead of resolution. It also means that there isn’t a clear sense of a linear structure, or a beginning middle and end. You understand that many of the events happened when she was young, but specific timing is vague and unimportant.

Another thing I’ve found about early hypertext is that it takes time. It sometimes isn’t until links or pages begin to repeat that the story begins to fill out or become clear. I found the same to be true for this one, but I always felt drawn in because each page contained it’s own lexie or micro-story that felt complete on their own. As they built upon each other, they begin to take on a greater context- the sum of the parts, and all that. Because the story is a recounting of memories, the broken structure and the diary-like reading worked really well. I know when I’m “looking back” it’s often in snapshots like that, and rarely complete detail.

I think the most frustrating aspect of this story, for me, was the navigation. Although it was clear where to go and how to operate the story, there wasn’t anything to ground me so I felt kind of lost in it all. I didn’t know how much there was, if I was missing anything, where the end was, and I couldn’t even get back to the title screen. While I think that feeling could certainly lend itself to some stories, it didn’t seem to add the this one, and I found myself wishing for a bit more guidance.

Hypermedia: Symbol, Index, Icon

I chose to explore The Ordeal of Scentless, as I thought it was simple but conveyed a very personal story. It shows a trip during a weekend and is mostly from the first person camera viewpoint. The trip is from the Grand Canyon, to the Las Vegas, the beach, and eventually San Diego’s Golden Gate bridge. Many of the images have text located near the bottom which is vague and abstract in a sense. You are left to interpret these text fragments with the images to get a sense of what the person was feeling at this point in the trip. At one point she even recalls a previous trip in what looks to be a foreign country, this also gives you the sense that you are viewing different parts of the world yourself.

There is a very simple animation superimposed on the images that create a sense of motion, sunshine, and remembrance. These hazy orbs of light seem like something of a dream state. All the people and cars are whited out as well, which, helps focus the story on the environment itself. In the Vegas pictures it would be very easy to be distracted by the myriad of faces, and vehicles, but now the photos center on the rustic style of Old Vegas, and the shining lights of the new areas.

For my story, I like the idea of minimizing the faces, and details of certain parts so that the image is more focused on the environment. For my characters, i will either white or black them out and then put minimal amount of detail necessary. I also like the text located near the bottom, and centered. This allows the viewer to read the text first them look at the wider picture, although, I will try to used multiple text fragments appearing on the same frame.