Relevant Narrative Art, Digital Technology For Multimedia Theater
Contemporary narratives reflect priorities, philosophies and values of literature in the context of digital technology. Conventional linear media doesn’t present narrative time as Calit2 technology can by telling stories outside of time, similar to time in a novel. If stories made with these technologies are to improve on conventional exhibition venues must be re-engineered to incorporate them, using new ways of story telling in media.
State of the art cinema technology today is an enhancement of William Fox’s 1920s theatrical vision with more and larger bells and whistles employed in timely, topical linear narratives. William Fox brought F. W. Murnau to Hollywood in 1926 to mentor American directors in making content for theaters that Fox equipped with Movietone technology. This became modern cinema but it was the quality of the stories made with this new technology that caught the public eye and brought international attention to Hollywood. Linear structure of cinema with predictable resolutions follows rules as tightly defined as were the rules of common practice music in 17th century German.
Narratives possible through control of multimedia exhibition technology can, like novels and historical fiction, expose readers to multiple stories, facets and perspectives, rather than consecutively, a predominant feature of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote de La Mancha and poetic works of older cultures than his; these works elude adaptation to the linear form of conventional cinema and films made of great novels never achieve the similitude of novels that mirror the way we experience life, reflecting the chaotic nature of our experience of events, outside of time. With the emergence of GUIs for computational editing, like those used for interactive and adaptive control in games and digital production, artists have the story telling potential like that of a novel in a Calit2 theater.
Multidisciplinary Story Telling: 5 Novels in 25 Minutes
Most of this summary focuses on story synopses because the stories must excite, move and entertain in narrative theater. This use of technology for narrative entertainment in successful stories will reveal how theaters might be equipped to simultaneously present actions and their contexts in performances in multiple locations in one multimedia event.
Novel 1. Satya Sai Baba on a Bicycle (Chemico-Electrical Conditions of Romance)
Novel 2. I Have Something To Tell You (Boundary Layers of Endocrinal Triggers).
Novel 3. Don’t Worry, We’ll All Get There (Habits Fears And Phobias Vs Desire)
Novel 4. Pretense (How To Not Be Treated Like a Dick While Being One)
Novel 5. Perceptions (Refractions of Anticipation Through Sensory Experience)
Live performers and recordings programmed in the video wall, with spatialized audio imaging and music composition, reveal concurrent events in the lives of protagonists.
Novel 1: A prostitute posts an image from the window of her client’s home on her Facebook page with the caption, “view from my new client’s window.” When her client’s wife’s lover sees the photo on Facebook, he realizes that his wife is the prostitute. A friend of the prostitute also sees the photo and asks if the yacht moored in the foreground of the photo is part of the package, to which she replies, with a sad emoticon, “sadly, no.” The name, True Love, is carved into the transom of the vessel. In this story, five relationships between four people appear in different screen areas. The story begins in conventional, linear fashion, with scenes appearing sequentially and screen areas are geographic locations. Sound and music are programmed for focus in each environment. As the story progresses, two and then several scenes and locations occur concurrently and eventually all relationships, with their musical themes play out simultaneously. A Hindu man cycles the stage in strict periodicity.
Novel 2: Multiple images of visitors in a webcam chatroom (modeled on MFC.com) surround a large central screen of the chatroom, featuring an attractive woman spot-lit on a set, stage-left. Among the webcam images around the cam girl’s is one of a man on a set, stage-right. The seated woman moves seductively to popular hormonal music. Comments of chatroom visitors appear in a column on one side and they occasionally send tips, which trigger bells and flashing lights, to which the model responds graciously, sometimes with a requested performance. The man on the stage falls in love with the model, which as it turns out, is his ex-wife. He engages her in conversation by tipping her extravagantly and asks her to perform (masturbate) for him. After she performs, he reveals his identity. She is surprised and angry but he implores and they negotiate.
Novel 3: When a future visitor in the age of space travel visits a Dubai-style vacation resort on an asteroid called, The Inn of 1000 Suns, he finds himself in a conundrum when he is informed by an AI personified in a hologram, that new regulations enacted while he was in transit, require he submit to a scan that removes “undesirable” structures that could include microbial envelopes of ideas and memories. He wants the current form of his experience of life to persist and views the process as death of his self-identity and the beginning of another. With his interlocutor, the voice of his spaceship’s AI system, he recalls and laments the dissolution of memories appearing and fading around him and asks, why is our world in a hurry? Where are we going?
Novel 4: A woman sits onstage in an automobile seat, holding a steering wheel. Behind her, the interior of the car and scenes through which she drives are projected. Sound and music are diegetic. A traffic policeman signals the woman to pull over. He appears at her window. Their interaction follows stages of relationship presented in different screen areas as they pass through fantasies about their relationship from their different perspectives as they become lovers, part, re-unite, marry, cheat on each other, culminating in divorce and estrangement. He cites her.
Novel 5: A man and a woman stand downstage left and right, signing in Ameslan, their interpretations of vocal expressions of a man and woman on a bed, projected behind them. Above each interpreter, screens carry English, Greek, Italian, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, French, Spanish, Russian and Chinese interpretations of their respective signing. Music is cyclical. The interpreters are at first hesitant and unsure about the language and the sexual activity makes them nervous. They begin to differ and argue about interpretations and eventually are swept away and make love.
John Chalmers earned his doctorate at UCSD in Biology in 1968 and was a visiting project scientist in the UCSD Chemistry and Biochemistry Department in the early 2000s. Currently he is a Staff Research Associate-2 in the Geoscience Research Division of SIO. Dr. Chalmers is the founding editor of Xenharmonikôn and the author of numerous works on microtonal music systems including “Divisions of the Tetrachord.” His music theory-based computer graphics have been exhibited in various group shows, most recently at the 2013 Joint Mathematical Meeting in San Diego and the Art + Science exhibition in Escondido. He has worked with HMSL, Csound, and other sound synthesis and programming languages. Chalmers has been acting in community theatre since 2007 and first met principal collaborator, Michael Winn, in connection with the latter’s production of radio (audio) theater and music composition.
Michael Winn is a master’s candidate at the school of Music & Sound Design for Media at Art Academy University, San Francisco (AAU) and a graduate of California State University Long Beach in Radio & TV Production. After previous careers in motion picture production, Mr. Winn developed “the world’s most intelligent building” in a partnership with Xerox and wrote Architectronics (McGraw Hill 1987), a reference book for designing for the digital telecom revolution. During his media career, Mr. Winn has worked professionally as a writer, director, producer, cinematographer, recordist, production, lighting and scene designer, actor, sound and picture editor. He uses Logic, Soundtrack Pro, Fmod, Avid, Final Cut and other GUIs in composing music for media.
Collaborators will include faculty and students of schools of Motion Picture and Theater, Music & Sound Design for Media and Game Design at AAU and at UCSD.
This event is designed to take advantage of Calit2’s video wall and sound systems and correlated programming with a 5 to 7-day residence grant. Video pre-recording, sound and music production, Fmod sequencing, sets, props, costumes and performers are not part of this grant request and will be completed prior to the residency. We may supplement Calit2 personnel for stage and house management functions and assistance for control of lighting, sound and video projection, as needed. We anticipate working with Calit2’s Communications group and collaborating institutions for release of news, promotional flyers, and notices to websites, calendars and social media.
Timeline and Schedule: The timeline is organized into typical production periods including one after the event for distribution, publication and other follow-up activities.
I. Sept – Oct 2013 Script & Design Development; Music Composition
II. Nov – Dec 2013 Pre-Performance Production, Scenes & Fmod Programming
III. Jan – Mar 2014 Production of recorded elements, Performance Rehearsal
IV. May – Jun 2014 Recording & Performance
V. Sep – Dec 2015 Editing, Documentation and Production of Release Recording.
During Period I, opportunities of the technology will be explored in script development, production design and planning and production and programming needs defined. In Period II and III, production will employ professionally supported GUI software; such as, Fmod, Logic, Protools, Avid, Sibelius, FPX and possibly other programs developed for adaptive web and game functions. In Period IV, we will work with Calit2 personnel to program, rehearse and mount the event. In Period V, we will edit and produce a recording of the performance and a written script for the production.