This is the Pergamon museum in Berlin. It houses the ceremonial walkway brought back from Babylon by German archaeologists late last century. Like a lot of museums, you can hire a cassette player with an audio tour, which provides a running commentary to the exhibits. It’s a very simple way to tie together moments in time with places in space. The information on the tape is also there on cards beside the exhibits to be read, but the majority of people take this tour and prefer to be led around the place rather than spending time with each exhibit and letting the stones speak for themselves.
What does this mean when we see that all these people want to make their non-linear experiences linear? Unfortunately it seems to say that most people still like to be told things in a sequence. Perhaps this has a little to do with the centuries of television that people have watched, and we might start to unpick this as television’s hold is lessened. But what I think people appreciate from these tours is not so much the sense of order, but the sense of duration. The experience has been made linear, but it also has been made finite. For two marks, you can get closure on four thousand years of Assyrian history. I want to talk about how the interactive form can begin to create more deeply emotional experiences than we are currently
used to, and what may in fact be stopping us from reaching the depth of experience that, for example, the cinema offers. I like this image because it offers an example of an oscillation occurring between the roles of observer and participant. I think that we need to grasp the paradox of these two seeming opposites and draw them together if we are to create deeper and more emotionally affecting experiences within the interactive form. For the purpose of this talk, I’m only concentrating on those screen-based works on the spectrum between the video game and the interactive movie.
- Michael Hill (Australia) is project coordinator for New Media at the Australian Film Commission, has been working with experimental film and electronic media for the last ten years, and has taught at the University of NSW and at Sydney University. He convened and chaired the recent conference, Narrative and Interactivity, in Melbourne (Australia).
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