© Annenburg Center for Communication, University of South California, 2002 (United States)


Concept et design:
Rosemary Comella, Kristy H.A. Kang, Marsha Kinder, Pat O’Neill
Design de l'interface : Rosemary Comella, Kristy H.A. Kang
Infographie et design graphique : Kristy H.A. Kang
Programmation : Rosemary Comella

Production exécutive :
Marsha Kinder

The Labyrinth Project
Annenburg Center for Communication, University of South California, 2002

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The Labyrinth Project is an art collective and research initiative on interactive cinema and database narrative at the University of Southern California’s 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 USC’s 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.


O'Neill's first feature, "Water and Power," a journey through a California of the imagination, was a Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner in 1990 and was hailed as a touchstone for filmmaking in the future. Several of the 14 avant-garde 16mm short films he produced between 1963 and 1982 are considered classics (especially "7362," "Runs Good," and "Saugus Series"). All are in international distribution and in the collections of educational institutions and museums, from the Cinematheque Francáise to the Austrian Film Archives. O'Neill moves in two worlds: he and his visual effects company, Lookout Mountain Films, have achieved some of the best-known effects for Hollywood films since the 1970s, from "Return of the Jedi" through "The Game." He has also been a member of the experimental film scene that was so vibrant in the '60s and '70s, where he pioneered the sort of free-flowing, manipulated live-action imagery that is now all around us.

D'après le film du cinéaste Pat O'Neil, The Decay of Fiction, cette fiction interactive nous longe dans les ruines du célèbre Hôtel Ambassador de Los Angeles, hanté par des personnages et des scènes qui ont marqué son histoire.

(Texte en anglais)

Based on Pat O’Neill’s 35 mm film, The Decay of Fiction (2002), this interactive project is an archeological exploration of the Hotel Ambassador, a vintage building now in ruins. Erected in 1920, the hotel played a crucial role in the development of Los Angeles and its urban sprawl. Well known for its glamorous Cocoanut Grove nightclub where Hollywood stars and movie moguls mingled with foreign dignitaries and downtown power brokers, the Ambassador was also the site of one of our nation’s most disturbing events—the 1968 assassination of Democratic Presidential Candidate Robert Kennedy.

Visitors wander through these abandoned rooms encountering cultural traces of the historical traumas and personal dramas that occurred there. Either they navigate within O’Neill’s original camera moves, or slide from one adjacent zone into another, or use the original designs of architect Myron Hunt (with detailed descriptions of each location in voice-over) to go directly to a specific room. Inside the hotel, the borders between past and present are deliberately blurred. Sometimes contemporary images are combined with dialogue from vintage movies and radio dramas, and modern voices are paired with period prints and newsreels. At other times old and new images are inextricably fused, as if ghostly figures and voices lie deeply embedded within the hotel’s decaying surfaces. Once outside the hotel on the city’s celebrated “Miracle Mile,” a stark contrast emerges between vintage stills and contemporary digital footage, especially when accompanied by provocative commentaries from noted cultural theorists (including Michael Dear, David James, Norman Klein, and Kevin Starr) speaking about the history of Los Angeles.

Labyrinth’s Marsha Kinder invited Pat O’Neill to collaborate on a DVD-ROM and installation that would explore the possibilities of interactive cinema. Since he was already in the early stages of shooting a new film called The Decay of Fiction, they agreed to produce an interactive version simultaneously. Though the DVD-ROM uses O’Neill’s footage, it has an entirely different structure and includes additional archival materials and cultural commentaries that are not in the film. Rosemary Comella and Kristy H.A. Kang, Labyrinth’s co-directors on the project, created a unique interface that enables interactors to explore this rich narrative field and create their own stories. This narrative impulse is experienced most strongly during earthquakes, which trigger a random montage of images and sounds drawn from the underlying databases. Functioning as a delirious automated search engine, these earthquakes generate new combinations that entice visitors to linger a little longer within this intriguing cultural space.

INFORMATION : www.AgenceTOPO.qc.ca
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