Typographic Narrative: 15%

This assignment is about exploring new ways that language (text) can connect for the reader on the single page and from page to page. Graphic and web designers typically use difference in typography – contrast, proportion, white-space, font styles, color, shape – to create visual hierarchies so that the reader has clues about how to read. Repetition of design elements create structure and context. Think of link colors, background color, navigation tabs.

Digital artists/writers, inspired by the typographic experiments of the 1920s avant-garde, also use difference and repetition of design elements, but with more of an interest in creating non-hierarchical structures; open forms that rely on associations made visually on the page (Drucker).  But even a collage of language fragments can be semantically difficult to read without some rhythm in the visual arrangement of text.  How can you make text fragments relate dynamically on the page (and from page-to-page) and still maintain narrative coherence?

Using source material you have gathered so far (or other any other remixed source material), construct a typographic narrative using ideas/strategies from Drucker’s Diagrammatic Writing and any other typographic work that inspires you.  You may use Illustrator, Photoshop, Prezi,  iBook Author, even video. But Keynote/Powerpoint is best because of the ease of manipulating text blocks and exporting to pdf or video. There should be at least 3-4 panels or pages with a story structure following the Western three-act plot or the Japanese four-act (kishotenketsu) plot. You may use color, various fonts and graphic elements (arrows, borders, basic shapes), but please do not use images. Let the text fragments, their arrangement and typography guide your composition of the story.


Visual Narrative: 15%

We have discussed many strategies/approaches to visual narration and how story time – events and incidents, actions and reactions – can be made visible and relational in pictorial space through…

  • single frame composition
  • scroll navigation
  • nonlinear navigation
  • panel-to-panel relationships
  • cinematic sequence
  • spatial montage

In this assignment, you are to use images to tell a story. The images may include symbols, shapes, colors, drawings, graphics, photos and/or video. Your images may be accompanied by text, but images and their spatial relationships should drive the narrative, not the text.  In other words, try not to make illustrations for a pre-written script. Instead, investigate new ways to organize images–on the single page and from page to page– in order to get across your particular visual story. Remember,  the pictorial frame and the user’s navigation of the frame(s) are elements of visual storytelling.

Please don’t worry too much about the quality of images. Use your pencil, phone camera, screen grabs, image downloads. Play with photoshop. Remember, you can take any of these short assignments and complete them as your final project.

Ideas for the Visual Narrative assignment:

  • create a “short film” with a sequence of still images or loops
  • create a storyboard or comic
  • sample images from the web based on a constraint and organize a narrative sequence of images with captions.
  • create a collage book that evoke strange narrative spaces/sequences. (Bosch, Bunuel/Dali)
  • Make a sequence of images that documents a single day, or a walk, or your commute. Use instagram!
  • make a short/silent video.


Hypermedia Narrative:  20%

So far, we have been exploring more conventional, linear story forms using digital tools – text editors, remix methods and visual design tools. The class will now pivot towards more computational processes in the making and presentation of digital stories. Digital media reduces all forms of media to machine code so that the computer will know how to display an intended sign. Digital stories created by and for a computer environment can include non-linear navigation, direct access to data, stored data in databases, variables, conditionals, search, interface design, random and parallel processes, hyperlinks and other forms of user interaction or “agency”.

Digital storytelling using computational processes creates some complications for our conventional notions of story and narrative. Even though a website typically presents multiple links, giving the user a choice in navigation, that user is still following a single linear path – their own. The question and challenge for storytelling is how to design the user’s own path (navigation through media files) so that it will lead to the understanding of a story or  “story world”.

“Hypermedia” refers to linked media. This can be a linear or directed path of links – for example, from text, to image to video – like pages in a book. A work of hypermedia can also present a network of links – branching or open – where repetition of story elements are part of the experience of navigation. Social media, blogs or microblog websites, can create networks of linked media while maintaining a linear, time-stamped path. A twitter story might develop episodically, with links out to media or webpages in each tweet.  “Transmedia” refers to stories that relate story elements across different media. A transmedia story might chain a website, to a blog, to a video, to a comment, to a phone number, to a text message, to the geolocation of a physical place with live performers.  Geo-coordinates, for example, might unlock a new chapter on a phone.

In this assignment, you or your group, will explore the possibilities of storytelling use any of the above computational processes. This is an exercise that might be the start or framework of a larger idea that can develop further as a final project.

Final Project:  30%

The final project may be a significant reworking of a previous project  or a new idea and direction.  You may also work on a group project (maximum 3 per group) with my approval. The requirement for the final project is that you incorporate typographic, visual, hypermedia elements and that you work on story structure.  The final project will have three deadlines and each of these will be graded.

Story Outline – 5%,  due 11/19
Draft for Critique – 10% , due 12/03
Final Project  – 85%, due 12/10




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