[ISEA2011] Paper: Christin Bolewski – Journeys in Travel: an infinite digital database film project


This is a report on a practice-based research project that investigates contemporary modes of non-linear and recombinant digital storytelling based on algorithmic computer-controlled systems. The video installation ‘Journeys in Travel’ is a story of travel and investigates relationships between travelogue, cinematic essay and digital database narrative. The Open Source Software ‘PD’, which is mainly used to create live-algorithmic musical improvisation and (interactive) music composition, controls here an infinite audiovisual narrative. It is a temporary, open-ended arrangement, which sets in motion a seemingly endless chain of references to related topics: Travel, being elsewhere in foreign places, tourism, ethnography, globalisation, a hyper-connected world, reality and simulation, movement, pace, rhythm and the relationship of film (structure), narrative, music and travel.

‘Journeys in Travel’ is designed as a laboratory for multiple investigations of contemporary digital narrative constructions. The database of video and sound elements can act as a source for varying research questions and experimental approaches where the ‘data’ or ‘units’ of the story are arranged and assembled according to different computer algorithms.

The link between digital database narrative and cinematic essay has not yet been intensively investigated and emerges as one of the central aspects of the project. But there are also close and historical connections between travel, film and narrative, that are revisited and re-contextualised in the digital era. Travel can be understood as the reading of an audio-visual narrative, a sequence of images and sounds of unfolding events, captured while we are moving through time and space.

Another interest lies in investigating relationships between structuring processes in film and music creation via principles of ‘macro-aleatoric’ music composition, which are determined by elements of chance or an uncertain outcome. ‘Aleatoric’ alignment of ‘data’ has long precident in music dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. Aleatoric music composition supports structure but also variation and chance within structure, and is similar to approaches in nonlinear recombinant film. The film units/sequences will be created after knowledge of musical units and rhythm preserving original proportions of a formula to create a structure where the possible combinations of narration reach to infinity.

  • Christin Bolewski is a digital media artist and experimental filmmaker from Germany. She exhibits regularly at international media art and film festivals and has taught media art and design in Universities in Europe and America. She is currently a Senior Lecturer and researcher at School of the Arts, English and Drama, Loughborough University UK.Her artwork and research is a critical investigation of the potential of digital media to expand the aesthetic possibilities of audiovisual / film art. It includes video installation, genre mix, alternation and remediation of traditional art concepts / film structures, nonlinear storytelling, combination of still / moving image, video / photography. She has had regular exhibitions at international digital media art events in Europe, Asia, North and South America, including SIGGRAPH Asia, Worldwide Video Festival Den Haag, FILE Brazil, Transmediale Berlin, ‘Manifestation on video-art and video making of the last 15 Years’ Rialto Filmtheatre Amsterdam, Electronic Undercurrents, Art & Video in Europe Statens Museum for Kunst Copenhagen, part of group exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Bonn, Dt. Kinemathek Berlin, and awarded with UNESCO Web Prize, etc.

Full text (PDF) p. 235-237