[ISEA97] Artist Talk: Christopher Hales – Portobello and Pirouettes, or, Do We Always Need “Narrative” If We Have Content?

Artist Statement

All I hear about nowadays is “narrative” and “story”, yet wandering round London’s Portobello Market makes me wonder whether they really are prerequisites to making interactive movies. An evening visit to the ballet confirms my beliefs that neither of these are indeed necessary to produce interesting, novel, and rewarding work. Portobello is a familiar place to me yet seldom do I purchase anything there: the atmosphere is great, the smells and sounds, the way the stalls change from antiques via fruit to clothes and then to bric-a-brac. I love to observe it all from the balcony of Cafe Grove and really…I just like being there — it certainly doesn’t lack content! And I don’t believe there is a story or narrative in my relationship to it: just the “market” paradigm. Similarly, in some vague moments since childhood I have enjoyed rummaging around my granny’s attic. There are some amazing things in there that I haven’t yet uncovered, or at least I am sure they must be there, under the old tea chests and boxes. Even though it is some years since I last spent some time in the dust and must, I am happy just to know that granny’s attic is still there without always the need to explore it completely. In fact, perhaps that would ruin the mystique. Using paradigms other than the conventions of drama my own work attempts to subjugate or circumvent narrative and story whilst creating a meaningful and resonant experience to the viewer. In the same way that we recognise the characteristics of ballet, an original genre could exist which could be termed “interactive film art” or possibly “interactivity d’auteur”. Although the superficial resemblance to cinema is strong this work takes its direct influences from completely different things than dramatic structure and narrative. For the time being the level of interactivity is low and is determined by choosing routes through a repository of authorial material. Although in some quarters this is not looked upon as being at all special since the interactivity is mere exploration and selec¬tion, even to offer this on its own empowers the author of a totally new means of creating for the viewer. The resulting works can have a generic resemblance which is often lacking across the field of new media art. The presentation will be illustrated with much of this work and humour and emotion will feature strongly.

  • Christopher Hales (UK) MPhil/PhD Research student in Interactive Film Art at the Royal College of Art, Film Department. Senior Lecturer in New Media at the University of West of England Faculty of Art, Media and Design. Freelance interactive designer with Research Arts, London. MA(RCA) European Interactive Multimedia, 1994 (Royal College of Art).Landscape paint­ings and prints exhibited in various galleries. The CD-ROM Twelve was released in November, 1996 on the experimen­tal Laboratory label LABOO2 by Research Publishing Ltd, and consists of 2 interactive movies. The Twelve Loveliest Things I Know installation was awarded the Prize for Artistic Excellence at the ARTEC95 exhibition in Japan. Interactive CD-ROM films have been shown at Melbourne International Film Festival 1996, Brisbane International Film Festival 1996, Techne, IMAGO Centre, Perth 1997, Oberhausen Kurzfilmtage 1997, FCMM (Montreal) 1997. Installation showing several interactive movies has been shown at: ARTEC95 Nagoya, Japan, EMAF, Osnabruck, Germany 1995, IMPAKT Utrecht, Holland 1996, Language of Interactivity, Sydney, Australia 1996, Oberhausen Kurzfilmtage, Germany 1997, FCMM Montreal, Canada 1997. Other installations include the Royal College of Art, London 1995, MILIA New Talent Pavilion 1995, Cannes, France, LoveBytes Festival, Sheffield, UK 1995, ARTEC97 Nagoya, Japan — ‘SAUDADE’ Installation. Talks, presentations and papers at the Faculty de Beaux Arts, Aix-en-Provence 1995, 14th Eurographics Conference, London 1996 (An overview of interactive film art), Language of Interactivity, Sydney, Australia 1996 (interactive film art), Oberhausen Kurzfilmtage, Germany 1997 (Why Make Movies lnteractive?), Watershed Media Centre, Bristol 1997 (inter­active film art), Kungs Techniska Hogskolen, Fine Art Academy (video), Dramatiska Institutet, NHS Grafisk Centrum and Stockholm, Sweden 1997, and FCMM Montreal, Canada 1997UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF ENGLAND