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January 15th posting: Winter screening/lecture

Yomi Ayeni's keynote speech on The Clockwork Watch transmedia project

Winter screen lecture January 15

I have become increasingly fascinated with the concept of Transmedia. It's increasingly becoming a 'conceptual pressure' on the way I envision my own project.

The following are notes from Articipate creative lab's creative lead, the transmedia artist Yomi Ayeni's keynote lecture at Filmteractive.

Ayeni first suggest some basic frameworks for considering Transmedia, media created and distributed across various platforms, often co-created with audience, participatory. He structures his lecture principally around a retelling of the development and events associated with his project called Clockwork watch. The project is a steampunk fantasy that is planned as being spread out over the course of five years and distributed through various media: including a feature film, graphic novels, public promenade performances, and participatory web forums.

What he is describing is not having a film that is adapted into various forms to be consumed. What he is describing is instead a patchwork network of distinct media elements and experiences, all part of a larger story world in which the audience are co-creators.

One of the elements that I found especially interesting about his description of the concept of Transmedia and how he sees his own work playing into it is his suggestion that Transmedia forms more closely reflecting our contemporary relationship with technology. He suggests that this emerging form(s) is more consistent with the ways in which our relationship with immersive media structures our lives and experiences.

Another aspect I found especially interesting was how the work seemed to be wholly disinterested in preserving borders, particularly those between art and commerce and those between author and audience; all blend together in one immersive organic field: while he sells his own created graphic comic/novels of the world of the project, he discussed how readily he has allowed other people's commercial interest to intermingle with the project. For example someone can suggest some element of the world and then develop their own coexisting stories and products, wholly retaining their own rights to them, all while their presence in the story world may subtlety change its over-all direction. The story world becomes a creative platform for others to express themselves in as they interact with one another. As I think about it, what he appears to be gesturing towards, at a very small scale, is kind of a creative facebook.

Similarly he spoke about how audience members, particularly at participatory events, can certainly add their own narrative elements to the story worlds that can then be inscribed into the canonical lore of the fictional world. For example, in one event, based on a core element of the narrative, automatons were being presented in a old world’s-fair-style demonstration. At the event, of their own accord, some audience members started to pretend to be a labor union that was protesting the introduction of these robots and developed their own narrative strands that then became part of that larger story world.

Also at events, participants were invited to become reporters (on a fictional newspaper – – online forum within the fictional steam punk world, reporting on things that they had seen. One can imagine how creative embellishments in reporting could also impact the direction of the narrative world.

Another thing I found particularly interesting was the presence of certain contradictions in the speaker’s creativepractice. While he has obviously embraced technology, including the use of crowd funding online campaigns to successfully fund his project--apparently his campaign was identified as I think the single most effective indie-gogo funding campaign in I believe it was 2011--at the same time he paradoxically said that all technology is banned from the project. He explained this to mean that there were no Twitter feeds or Facebook presence for the project (I did find a facebook site for the project—perhaps created by a rogue fan). This selective banning of certain contemporary media seems kind of a conceptual gap for me in the effective web of the Transmedia world he and his project suggest the possibility of.

Of course steampunk has a complicated relationship with technology. It appears to be a response to the non-transparency of current technologies. For example, our iPhones can do wonders for us, but we have no idea how it's making the magic happen under the screen. Steampunk (strictly speaking the adopting of Victorian England dress and manners but inhabiting visions of the future born of that. [Read: Jules Verne's and HG Wells’ wet dreams.]). All of the steam punk technology fantasies keep all of the mechanization of technology visible and conceptually available, e.g., obvious copper wiring, and most importantly the power of steam. Anyways I have been very interested in the aesthetics and the purposes that steampunkers appear to have, and find the scope of this particular overall project fascinating. I especailly like the emphasis on leveraging play and pretend, and its perculating with my own interests in gamification (using the elements of games and game thinking in envirnments in which they are not usually associated).

I am musing on ways that some Transmedia methodology can be inhabited in a way to have a fully expressive art form that leverages the present relationship with technology that is a certainly a defining element of our current human experience, certainly of mine.

I'm thinking of ways to sprinkle elements of the story world of my project, particularly the disoriented worldview of my central character into these various forms of media in a way that could be an interesting and satisfactory experience for a participant. A key element of this of course would be somehow emulating the schizophrenic worldview. Although not wholly medically accurate, it would be very fun to play with paranoid elements. This would be a compelling magnetic framework that could be used to help make cohesive the distribution of these narrative elements into a myriad of contemporary quotidian media forms.

How to do this I am in the process of discovering.

My initial intent was to develop some kind of corollary augmented reality element to the project, but my increasing interest in the concept of Transmedia is inviting me to open that up some into even broader possibilities.

Postscript: While gathering up some links for this posting, I discovered that the clockworkwatch project site is now suddenly apparently not working. Perhaps inattention to the practical got the best of it. I hope to see it come back.


Yomi Ayeni's keynote speech on The Clockwork Watch transmedia project


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