Project is an art collective and research initiative on interactive
cinema and database narrative at the University of Southern Californias
Annenberg Center for Communication. Under the direction of cultural
theorist Marsha Kinder since 1997, this initiative works at the pressure
point between theory and practice. After hosting Interactive
Frictions, a groundbreaking international conference and exhibition
at USC in 1999, Kinder decided to focus on producing interactive narratives
and installations in collaboration with visual artists and writers
known for their experimentation with nonlinear forms. She assembled
a group of talented digital artists --headed by Rosemary Comella,
Kristy H.A. Kang, Scott Mahoy and associate producer and curator JoAnn
Hanley--to oversee these productions. These collaborations also involve
the participation of talented students from several divisions within
USCs School of Cinema-Television--animation, critical studies,
interactive media, and production. No matter whether our primary collaborator
is a filmmaker or writer, we choose to make our projects cinematic.
For, Labyrinth is committed to creating a productive dialogue between
the immersive language of cinema and the interactive potential and
database structures of digital media.
Article (SF Gate - Sept 18th 2003)
Through: Layers of Los Angeles, 1920-1986 is an interactive narrative
that combines a database detective story with a digital city symphony
and a metanarrative reflection on storytelling in this new medium.
Set in a three-mile radius near downtown Los Angeles, this DVD-ROM
explores Boyle Heights, Bunker Hill, Chavez Ravine, Chinatown, Echo
Park, Little Tokyo and other contested locations that helped shape
the citys cultural history. These ethnically complex neighborhoods
are documented through archival photographs and films and through
contemporary images that either reproduce or evoke them. This DVD-
ROM is accompanied by a book, which contains a novella by cultural
historian Norman M. Klein and essays on the production by Jeffrey
Shaw, Marsha Kinder, Rosemary Comella and Andreas Kratky.
The interface enables the narrative to be navigated in three ways. Positioned within a small window, author Norman Klein tells the story of Molly, the fictional protagonist of his novella who is based on a real life person and who may have murdered one of her husbands. He invites us to collaborate with him in writing this fictional life. Or we can explore what Molly never noticedthe back stories of real life people whose mini-memoirs preserve histories that otherwise might have been lost. And finally, the project leads us to reflect on this act of database storytelling and its cultural implications, particularly when set within L.A.s urban dream factory. The contrast between past and present is most dramatic and uncanny in the back stories, where one can slide fluidly between bleed-throughsold and new photographs of the same cityscape taken from precisely the same anglewhich enable us to make buildings instantaneously emerge or vanish.
Drawing on hundreds of photographs, newspaper clippings and films from the archives of USC, the Los Angeles Public Library and the Automobile Club of Southern California with additional material from personal collections, Bleeding Through helps us refigure our vision of Los Angeles, particularly if it has been based primarily on representations from Hollywood mainstream movies.