[ISEA2011] Paper: Paolo Cirio – “Recombinant Fiction” theoretical paper and manifesto


In previous ages, mediums for narrating fiction such as theatre, literature, cinema and television have defined languages, models and formats; each media development provided an expressive shift in forms of storytelling. Nowadays, media are multiplying, hybridizing, and mutating. The way they are used alters continually, creating potentially new ways of producing fiction and spectacle.

Networked digital media merge as a productive vehicle to create new forms of fiction. In fact, the rise of forms of storytelling such as ‘Transmedia Storytelling’, ‘Alternative Reality Games’, ‘Transfiction’, ‘Dispersed Fiction’ and ‘Viral and Guerrilla Marketing’ is a clear sign of an important revolution in ways to tell stories.

Recombinant Fiction emerges as a political and aesthetic fiction genre of this new immersive and participative form of art. By identifying valuable, distinctive characteristics and objectives, Recombinant Fiction defines a unique genre able to drive tactical activism and dramatic purposes.

Our contemporary media environment era is characterized by the explosion of Personal Media (e.g. devices with platforms for email, instant messenger, blogs, photo and video sharing services, etc.) resulting in new modes of personal expression and interpersonal relations. Nonetheless, Mass Media continues to grow as well. Networked media generates new channels and interconnected devices for consuming entertainment and news (e.g. proprietary web platforms, digital TV, portable video/reader players, screen billboard, etc.). This results in the deregulation of advertising restrictions and privacy policies by the corporate media complex to boost the flux of information. Additionally, networked digital technologies accelerate and facilitate the production of offline and analogue spaces of information (e.g. print-on-demand, production of manufactures, organization of public assembly, mapping public spaces etc.). This results in a new mass of active prosumers, and a general increase of information in interior and urban landscapes.

All of the above listed media are digital in origin, and therefore easily reproducible and transmissible through networks (e.g. Internet, GSM, Wi-Fi, etc.). Networked digital media generate an intensification of flux, interactions and processes of communication. The informative environment created by all those media that broadcast messages, is defined as Infosphere. This conceptual sphere is the space in which modern society is immersed, where people express themselves, build their own realities and manage societal organization.

In this context, a modern form of fiction should be narrated by networked media and staged in the Infosphere, which can be used as the medium to dramatize reality and find a way to change it by a dramatic representation, as humanity has always done.

  • Paolo Cirio is an artist and public speaker, who was born in Turin, Italy in 1979 and currently lives in London. His awards include Award of Distinction, Interactive Art, Prix Ars Electronica, Linz 2011; Grant Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol 2010; European Media Artists grant, 2009; 2nd Prize Transmediale, Berlin, 2008; 1st Prize, Stuttgarter Filmwinter, Stuttgard, 2007; Media Award St. Gilgen school, 2006; Comission Rhizome, NYC, 2005; moreover his works have been nominated for 10th Cairo Prize, Milan, 2009; VIPER Award, Basel, 2005; and got honorary mentions at Share Festival, Turin, 2007; Ibizagrafica, 2006 and Prix Ars Electronica, Linz, 2005. Cirio has had numerous group exhibitions worldwide and he exhibited in major exhibitions and museums such as Laboral, Gjion, 2010; S.M.A.K, Ghent, 2010; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, 2009; Courtauld Institute, London, 2009;  HMKV, Dortmund, 2009; PAN, Naples, 2008; MOCA, Tapei, 2007; Halle für Kunst, Lüneburg, 2007; NTT ICC, 2006 Tokyo; among others. Paolo has worked as media artist in various fields: net-art, street-art, video-art, public-art, marketing-art, software-art and experimental storytelling. He investigates into perception and creation of cultural, political and economicrealities manipulated by new modes of control over information’s power. He is a tactical media artist. He hacks and orchestrates media through videos, coding, websites, social media, printed media, interventions in public spaces, characters enacted by actors, audience participation and careful analyses, in order to create edifying narratives, controversial provocations and to tackle social issues. The aim of the artist is to address the power of media beyond a single language and device, focusing on the major issue in this area: how specific arrangements of information can construct, describe and shape reality and hence influence society. Moreover, Paolo investigates how alternative realities can be generated by hacking the Infosphere, through an injection of narrative information broadcasted by networked digital media. This proposition of new, alternative stories, in which people can engage, is thought to transform the mediated reality by infiltrating in it a new tactical fictional reality. paolocirio.net

Full text (PDF) p. 433-438