Immersive and innovative: the future of storytelling online

 

Interactivity is becoming a critical facet in how we tell stories in the connected age. Digital storytelling has evolved through Web2.0s increasing infiltration and ease of production/consumption to what media researcher Bryan Alexander notes is a “continually expanding arena for storytelling” (21). The relevance of the web as an “arena of storytelling” has led to the media convergence of once legacy media outlets, forcing print, radio and television broadcast services to merge with new forms of media (Uricchio 17). While this means that the future of some old media forms may be in doubt, new and old media methods have merged to create digital stories that are accessible, engaging, immersive and facilitate discourse within the audience.

 

Once an exclusive television broadcasting service, the SBS has merged with the new media forms that Web2.0 brought to the world to create interactive storytelling experiences. One example the digital merger of media forms is the SBS’s online documentary Cronulla Riots, (SBS) which investigated the 2005 racially motivated riots in Sydney. As the documentary is based around interactivity, it can be labelled as an interactive documentary or i-doc (Aston & Gaudenzi 125-6). Cronulla Riots adopts multiple forms of media in the form of still images, videos, soundscapes, maps and text to immerse the audience into the investigation of the event, essentially becoming part of the process by discovering information within the documentary.

 

 

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Watch: Cronulla Riots

 

 

Cronulla Riots contains a linear narrative with nine chapters however the documentary interacts with us by offering chances to digress from the primary story to explore key themes, character profiles and facts. Questions are even asked to challenge our assumptions or to show the wider picture of an issue. For example, the documentary asks: “Are people that use the Australian flag doing so for racist purposes?” If we choose an answer, the documentary consults a mind map which reveals relevant information about national icons being appropriated for racist purposes. We can also opt to ignore these secondary sources or to further explore the mind map to discover new facts before returning to the primary narrative allowing us an active role in the documentary. Media researcher Dayna Galloway calls this the active adaption category of interactive documentaries, characterised by user – document information exchange to which the user is aware of (333).

 

Offering the audience an active role in the documentary is not the only way Web2.0 has changed the way we consume stories. Galloway notes that there are also passive adaptive, immersive and expansive interactive documentaries (336). Passive adaptive stories modify content depending on unconscious interactions between the user and the system (Galloway 332 – 3). Immersive stories aim to place the audience in the stories environment by using multiple media forms (Hernandez 103 – 4). Therefore, the immersive documentary falls heavily upon audio-visuals to convey its story while aiming to limit real-world stimulus by using full-screen visuals, headphones or augmented reality systems (Galloway 333 – 4). The expansive category uses massive peer – peer interactions to create content. An example of an expansive documentary is Kevin Macdonald’s Life in a Day (2011), which stitched together crowdsourced videos on video sharing site YouTube to create a feature-length documentary. These categories represent a shift from storytelling being a passive experience to an active exploration of the storyteller’s vision.

 

The technologies and techniques brought on by Web2.0 have developed to create a story that can interact with, and immerse the audience in the digital author’s vision (Aston & Gaudenzi 127). Interactivity in non-fiction digital storytelling offers journalists and media outlets massive amounts of flexibility in how a story can be told. The New York Times can now send a reader to investigate the crime scene of the Las Vegas Gunman’s hotel suite, made up by composite images (Buchanan) while Reuters could send them to witness the reality of living in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh (Weiyi & Scarr). Interactivity in digital storytelling offers the chance to let the audience go beyond words, and delve deeper into the emotions and humanity that underpin the stories that need to be told.

 

 

 

References:

 

Alexander, Bryan, and Ebooks Corporation. The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media. Praeger, 2011.

 

Aston, Judith, and Sandra Gaudenzi. “Interactive Documentary: Setting the Field.” Studies in Documentary Film, vol. 6, no. 2, 2012, pp. 125–139.

 

Balendra, Jaya, director. Cronulla Riots, 2013, Eye Spy Productions, Cronulla Productions, SBS

 

Buchanan, Larry, et al. Inside the Las Vegas Gunman’s Mandalay Bay Hotel Suite, The New York Times Online, 4 October 2017, accessed 24 September 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/04/us/vegas-shooting-hotel-room.html

 

Cai, Weiyi and Scarr, Simon. “The Rohingya Crisis Life in the Camps” Reuters, 4 December 2017, accessed 24 September 2018 http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/MYANMAR-ROHINGYA/010051VB46G/index.html

 

Flew, Terry. “Democracy, Participation and Convergent Media: Case Studies in Contemporary Online News Journalism in Australia.” Communication, Politics &Amp; Culture, vol. 42, no. 2, 2009, pp. 87–115.

 

Galloway, Dayna, et al. “From Michael Moore to JFK Reloaded: Towards a Working Model of Interactive Documentary.” Journal of Media Practice, vol. 8, no. 3, 2007, pp. 325–339.

 

Hernandez, Richard Koci, et al. The Principles of Multimedia Journalism: Packaging Digital News. 2016.

 

Mcdonald, Kevin, director. Life in a Day, 2011, LG, Scott Free Productions, YouTube

 

Thomson, Helen. Wikis, Blogs & Web 2.0 technology. 25 May 2008, University of Melbourne, accessed 24 September 2018, http://copyright.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/1773830/wikisblogsweb2blue.pdf

 

Uricchio, William, et al. Mapping the Intersection of Two Cultures: Interactive Documentary and Digital Journalism. MIT, Boston, 2015.

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Andrews Government responds to Parliamentary inquiry into drug law reform

The Andrews Labor Government says that it will focus on minimising drug-related harm to the community and users in response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Drug Law Reform.

 

Part of the plan involves the trial of the medically supervised injecting room in North Richmond, which the Andrews Government says is already saving lives.

 

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Rosie Cluett, Taskforce Counsellor Photo: Blake Van Zanden

“Our staff have safely responded to 140 overdoses in just two months, many of which would have otherwise been fatal,” said Martian Foley, the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing.

 

Liberal Opposition leader Matthew Guy said that the medically supervised injecting rooms sent a message to children that taking ice and heroin was ok.

 

“It’s dangerous, it’s wrong and we’ll close it down,” Mr Guy said.

 

However, Australian Drug Foundation spokesperson Laura Bajurny said that there had already been positive feedback from the medically supervised injecting rooms trial.

 

“Some of the personal feedback that even now is coming out of the north Richmond trial is really moving… its people who use drugs being treating like a human being for the first time,” said Ms Bajurny.

 

Apart from the medically supervised injecting room trial, grants will be provided to needle and syringe programs to enable free overdose reversal drugs like Naloxone to users, the Andrews Government said in its response.

 

Rosie Cluett from drug and alcohol counselling service Taskforce said that harm minimisation was a broad concept that was not all about abstinence.

 

“It may be about safe injecting practices, it may be about reducing from a bottle of wine to two glasses a night. It is a very broad concept,” said Ms Cluett.

 

“Sometimes it might be that they are homeless, and that might be a really difficult thing for that person. So, you can’t talk about reducing drug and alcohol use if they have nowhere to live,” said Ms Cluett.

 

Although focusing on harm minimisation, the Andrews Government said it would not change its stance on pill testing and decriminalisation of drugs.

New Colombo Plan sees more Australians heading to Asia to work and study

The Federal Government’s New Colombo Plan has seen over 40000 Australian students and scholars heading to Asia since its inception in 2014.

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Photo: Blake Van Zanden

Deakin University student Haylee Mantell said the New Colombo Plan was a driving force in her decision to study in Asia. “Without the New Colombo grant, a 3-month internship overseas wouldn’t have been a possibility,” she said.

Mrs Mantell worked in Indonesia on an internship with global marketing firm Edelman. “Studying an international relations degree, it was worth having an international experience where I could apply my University degree in a work setting.”

In 2018, the New Colombo Plan will accommodate around 13000 students to neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and China. The Australian Government is aiming for the New Colombo plan to become a “rite of passage” for undergraduate students.

Mrs Mantell said that her internship in Indonesia gave her “invaluable experience working in an international environment,” which she said will help her find a graduate position later in the year.

Research from the Department of Education and Training backs up this sentiment finding that studying abroad increases the chances of finding full-time employment post-graduation.

Satire Matters

The age of Trump, fake news and turmoil within Australian politics has spawned a gold rush for satire. From Abbott eating raw onions spawning #oniongate to the coverage of Australia’s oppressive gun control laws, satire has provided us with some entertainment and unfortunate truths through a worryingly riotous period in the worldwide political landscape.

The recent online media phenomenon that has caused traditional legacy journalism corporations such as Fairfax Media to drastically cut budgets and jobs, has allowed satirical publications to grow exponentially through platforms such as Facebook. Reaching an audience on social media roughly 4 times smaller than that of the ABC, the Betoota Advocates coverage of political events often generates a similar amount interest in its timely and witty coverage of political events. Their ability to engage with the online audience can be seen below in the Betoota Advocates coverage of Malcolm Roberts citizenship debacle.

The Betoota Advocate                                        ABC News

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 9.30.36 PMFeaturing fictional news pieces, comedic sketches and not being aligned with traditional journalistic practices, satire can easily be written off as having any real ability to inform or cause debate in the community. However, the line between what can be considered journalism and satire is narrowing with online publications such as the Betoota Advocate, The Chaser and The Shovel providing social and political commentary whilst using key journalistic traits to develop their stories.  A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center even found that the US audience favoured Jon Stewart, formerly of The Daily Show, was amongst their ‘most admired’ Journalists. Jon Stewart denied he was a journalist, however, the shows political and news coverage undoubtedly transcends that of a simple comedy act. John Oliver, from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, is another example of a comedian teetering on the boundary of satire and journalism. Dissecting topics such as global warming and public health care, Last Week Tonight has a clear objective of holding those in power accountable for their actions whilst along with advocating for social issues.

John Oliver advocating for gun control on The Daily Show, before he launched his own satire show on HBO

Although shows such as John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight and the Daily Show may be blurring the lines between news and entertainment, the Pew Research Centers research also reminds us that satirical shows do fall short of what we think of as news and traditional journalism. Studying the Daily Show, the Pew Center found that the show was ‘highly selective’ in its coverage, missing key newsworthy events and aired critical coverage of the Republican party three times as often as the Democrats.

Therefore taking into consideration that whilst satire may well contribute to our intake of news, it is not always an objective and complete source. Satire may instead be seen as a subsidiary source that provides comedic commentary on contemporary political and social issues. With satire flourishing online and continuing to place an emphasis on its journalistic qualities, it is clear that it may well be seen as a form of news rather than entertainment.

Med102, Assignment 2

Red Band

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‘Red Band’ is a static piece that is based on the relationship between the digitally synthetic and the ‘real’ of the non-digital world. The piece approached this concept by using a string like series of lines with visible traces of digital elements.

Perlin Noise was used to obtain a randomized however ordered aesthetic image of a series of flowing red lines, creating a natural look to the lines as if they were flowing with some sort of breeze. The artificial component was achieved by including visible traces of its synthetic nature being the pixelated appearance of the lines. The border was added to focus the viewers’ attention towards the red band of lines.

Sol De Witt’s use of flowing lines such as his work in Wall Drawing #1136 2004, was primarily the inspiration for the piece. Although De Witt’s wall drawing #1136 has a large focus on colour and an aesthetic of a smooth digital image, the idea of the line flowing through the piece on a horizontal plane worked well to signify flow and the divide between digital and natural.

 

References

Public Delivery, Sol Lewitt’s influential drawings from around the world, Viewed 21 September 2017 http://publicdelivery.org/sol-lewitt-wall-drawings/

 

 

Code:

void setup() {
size(800, 600);
background(255);
noFill();
strokeWeight (0.1);
noLoop();
}
//aggression of perlin noise deviation
float resolution = 300;

void draw() {
//frame color (black)
stroke(0, 0, 0);
//frame dimensions
rect(100, 100, 600, 400);
//line color (red)
stroke(177, 17, 25);
// Y = Line Count (fills in Y between the two values given), (+ is spacing being the No. of pixels between lines. (Lower No. = more lines))
for (int y = 250; y < 350; y = y + 5) {
beginShape();
//line start and end (border)
for (int i = 100; i < 700; i = i + 1) {
if ( i > 0) {
//shape dimentions & offset of the lines trajectory (2)
vertex( i, y + (noise( i / resolution, y / resolution) * (i-250) – ((i-250)/2)) );
}
//continuation of patt
else {
vertex(i, y);
}
}
endShape();
}
}

Med102, Analogue Coding

‘Tear’

 

  1. Draw a 15cm x 15cm square on an a4 piece of paper.
  2. Using a compass draw 20 circles with diameters between 10 and 25mm in random locations within the square. Circles may overlap
  3. Shade the circles in carefully with a black sharpie
  4. Roughly rip the square out so its borders become approximately between 10-13 cm on each side.
  5. Rotate so it is in a diamond shape and stick centrally on an A3 piece of paper.

 

Results

 

Analysis

My analogue coding piece is an instructional artwork inspired primarily by Agnes Martin’s 1963 piece ‘The Moment (Egg)’ and Sol LeWitt’s 1998 piece ‘Wall Drawing #328’. Martin’s ‘The Moment (Egg)’, which draws its aesthetic value from the borderless ‘egg’ shape created by a series of imperfect lines. These imperfect lines immediately invite the eye to inspect the finer detail in the lines making up the ‘egg’ shape (A. Martin, 1963). Sol LeWitt’s ‘Wall Drawing #328’ (S. LeWitt, 1980) uses shapes within a shape to create a striking image through the contrasting lines; the parallelogram inside the circle and the circle inside the square frame.

 

 

To create my pragmatic art piece, I used the visually engaging structure of a shape within a shape combined with a large blank background to draw the viewer into the image. I conceptualised my piece titled ‘tear’ as a group of black circles contained within a ‘tear’ in the paper on a sparse white background. This ‘tear’ would give a notion of depth to the image through its window like appearance.

Initially, I conceptualised the tear to be rougher than that of the attempts undertaken, almost gouge-like to contrast the circles enclosed within. A concept which proved difficult to convey through text as the word ‘roughly’ can be quite subjective. Two of the attempts resulted in a quite cleanly torn square that didn’t quite replicate the image I had conceived. The third image by Haylee was closer to what I had intended on. This was my main issue with the pieces.

Upon discussing the instructions with the participants on completion of their pieces, the common issue brought up was the confusion they encountered with the 3rd step, ‘Shade the circles in carefully with a black sharpie’. The participants all found that the instruction was not explicit enough in whether to shade in the circles in differing tones or as a single tone of black. Luckily the sharpie had limited flexibility in its tones and resulted in the participants all finishing with a single shade of black.

The form of the image may be changed by incorporating a black A3 background to further the contrast of the tear, however, may also detract from the impact of the tear on the flat white background. The sharpie worked well; however, the participant’s confusion of shading the circles’ different tones highlighted an excellent point. Using lead pencils to achieve different tones would further the feeling of the ‘window’ within the frame adding extra depth to the image.

Overall I believe the simplicity of instruction and limited wording worked well and resulted in images that were surprisingly extremely similar to that of which I had originally conceived. The main take away I gained was increasing the specificity of instruction when needed to cover shades or physical actions carried out such as the tearing of paper to fully convey my intentions to the participant.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Artsy, Agnes Martin the Egg, Viewed 22 August 2017 <https://www.artsy.net/artwork/agnes-martin-the-egg&gt;

 

RISD Museum, Variations of a drawing, Sol Lewitt and his written instructions, Viewed 22 August 2017 <http://risdmuseum.org/manual/45_variations_of_a_drawing_sol_lewitt_and_his_written_instructions&gt;