My Talk “Narrativity and VR” Will Be Featured at ELO Conference

My talk/paper “Narrativity in Virtual Reality: From Meaning-Making to World-Building” has been accepted and will be featured at the Electronic Literature Organization Conference in Vancouver in June. Work on the trailer for QueerskinsVR should be done by April, so I will be able to show it then as part of the talk. 

Using my own experience in translating a work of electronic literature into virtual reality as a point of departure, I will look at how storytelling in VR differs from and is similar to storytelling in other formats. Drawing examples from cinema, video art, video games, electronic literature and early VR experiments, I will examine trends in narrativity which predate the emergence of VR as a significant storytelling medium. These include: the move away from what Hiroki Azuma calls “grand” and “small” narratives to “database” narrative and the accompanying changes in perceptions and evocations of time and space, the move away from characters to processes that create affective asymmetries that I will relate to Thomas LaMarre’s analysis of Japanese anime, the move from meaning-making to aesthetics including the tendency to emphasize musicality (rhythm, repetition, and tone) over verbal semantics that relates to Flusser’s theory of gesture and Kojéve’s meditations on the end of history, the move from “authenticity” to kitsch and performativity that I will discuss via the writings of Walter Benjamin, Brecht, and Celeste Olalquiga, and lastly, the increasing role of “things” as a form of narrative that I will examine in light of Ian Bogost’s writings on video games and object-oriented ontology. 

I will end with a discussion of desire, intentionality, presence, and subjectivity in storytelling using the example of my new work in progress Queerskins VR,  which combines 360 degree video and computer modeled environments to tell the story of a devoutly Catholic mother’s relationship to the estranged son she has lost to AIDS.

“The Failure of Narrative: Cinema and Storytelling at the End of the World”

zabriskie 2

My proposal for a talk at “Forms of the Apocalypse” a symposium at Université Paris 8 in March has been accepted.

In this paper, I draw upon examples from film and video to examine how the idea of apocalypse plays out in storytelling, not simply in terms of content: the trope of mass destruction, but in terms of narrativity, the processes by which a story is presented and interpreted. In keeping with the etymology of “apocalypse” as an uncovering or revealing, I define apocalypse not as the end of the world, but rather the end of the world as we have known it, that is to say, epistemologically.

What humans know of the world largely depends upon the technologies we use to “see” it. This, in turn, influences how we communicate this knowledge. The move away from written language to visual language, which cinema initiated, continues. As we transition from language- based storytelling to experiential storytelling most notably with the creation of virtual realities, the very notion of what we know and how we know it comes into question.

Using examples taken from feature films including Antonioni’s visionary Zabriskie Point as well as examples from video art : Mark Amerika’s Immobilité and Keren Cytter’s “French Film” and “The Hottest Day of the Year,” I will point out trends in narrativity which correspond to changes in technology. These include: the move away from what Hiroki Azuma calls “grand” and “small” narratives to “database” narrative and the accompanying changes in perceptions and evocations of time and space, the move away from characters to processes that create affective asymmetries that I will relate to Thomas LaMarre’s analysis of Japanese anime, the move from meaning-making to aesthetics including the tendency to emphasize musicality (rhythm, repetition, and tone) over verbal semantics that relates to Flusser’s theory of gesture and Kojéve’s meditations on the end of history, and the move from authenticity to kitsch and performativity and its relationship to virtuality that I will discuss via the writings of Walter Benjamin, Brecht, and Celeste Olalquiga. I will end with a discussion of desire, intentionality, presence, and subjectivity in storytelling using the example of my new work in progress Queerskins VR.

I Will Be Curating a Performance and Interactive Sessions Featuring Work from the Third Electronic Literature Collection at The Kitchen

It’s official I’ll be curating a 5 hour performance/interactive workshop at renowned experimental art/performance space The Kitchen in NYC on Saturday, September 10th, 2016 featuring work from the Electronic Literature Collection vol. 3.  This should be especially interesting for writers, visual artists, interactive designers and game designers. More information soon.