Transmedia Thinking in an Internet of Things.
Yesterday I was being interviewed about a recent project and we touched on the subject of transmedia and the concept of transmedia storytelling. What is transmedia storytelling? The term appears in theories of digital interactive and mass media as a technique of telling stories across multiple platforms and formats across multiple media channels . Transmedia was a term coined by Henry Jenkins in his book Convergence Culture and represents ” the integration of entertainment experiences across a range of different media platforms” ( futurebook.net). Transmedial working is envisaged as a new model for co-creation that crosses media and builds strength through states and stages of awareness. In the paper “Transmedial Play” he relates transmedia storytelling to Richard Wagner’s concept of Gesamtkunstwerk(“the total artwork”). In essence this is the all embracing artwork that strives to make use of many or all available artforms. In a world where all is visual and we possess an intimacy of touch with all around us the transmedia landscape recognises an interplay between media immersing the audience in a complex story. Today I walk the potential of transmedia space with an attention to the background music i am listening to. The music I have interactively selected; a mix that is being played through the videos posted by other contributors to Youtube creates a space in the thoughts I am authoring on wordpress whilst nine other tab windows are open on my computer that each individually tell a story of my day in synthesis weaving together the thoughts and ideas rising and falling in each moment. Each of these pages tells a different story of my day’s moments. As the day binds together the studio space of the traditions of painting and bounces ideas from the meeting held recently to the screen where I have explored some of the potentialities arising from my discussions to the words that I now compose upon this monitor page. In my meditations this morning, the light dancing in my eyes and the voice of Om calling as its distance hum reaches to other states of consciousness, I recalled this concept of transmedia storytelling and the cosmic stories of deep symbolic meaning.
In this ‘internet of things’ we are experiencing a fluid world where the truths we used to think were fixed are now shifting and floating. In the ‘internet of things’ we can feel a deep sense of isolation, of separation and alienation, an amplification of all our human traits and emotions. All the threads of life spinning and tight one moment can loosen and be woven and rewoven in a differing shape in another. Where is the original story that binds us together and brings us back to the place we began in that once forgotten time and that half remembered space.
The Story and the Teller, the Singer and the Song that strikes the Chord.
In the warm villages of Rajasthan in Northern India the craftsman creates block prints using patterns that are many years old; symbols with meanings that the western mind must puzzle over to decipher within a world of contemporary signs and visual messages. I recall the warmth of the streets of Jodhpur, the blue houses, and, walking through the blue city, coming across the open fronted shop of the craftmaker creating the most exquisite printed fabrics. At another time we sit on a rooftop in the warm evening air, a traditional Rajasthan puppet show being presented to us. The wonderfully decorated puppets, the sounds of the small band with drum and harmonium and the puppeteers dressed in their local costume. These are artforms that come together to develop a complete cultural story, weaving together beliefs and cultural norms that bind the people and communities together with the stories are the myths and symbols created through ritual and performance. Many artforms interconnect to bring the stories to life and the complexity of the tales become embodied in our being. The mythic tale is one that contains the deep symbols that are the grounding of our being. In the mythic story the symbols become embodied through the ritual interplay of artform and performance.
In the Crafts Museum in New Delhi India woven scenes on fabric and the most exquisite painted rolls of fabric unravel to reveal the myths of the common man; Krishna and the Gopi’s, the stories of Vishnu and Shiva and the epic Ramayana portraying the hero Rama’s fight for Sita his beloved. In village traditions the storyteller would illustrate the tales as the fabric would be unrolled to reveal the next act. Music and performance would come together in the unfolding of the mysteries in a performance of the mythic revelation. Here is the all embracing art work that utilises many platforms in the realisation of the story, a performance that through its presence works on many levels of appropriation through all participants. Perceived in this way all the world is but a play and each one of us the beautiful players. Audience and participants, public and players all involved in the revelation of the cosmic myth.
The Trans in Transmedia.
In the term transmedia the mythologised story is told through a series of platforms or creative levels that develop an understanding of the complex themes through a variety of cognitive forms. By the term trans there is a sense of an above and beyond. It rises above the one and supercedes the cross fertilisation of forms and only becomes embodied when all aspects weave together. In the performance of the ritualised myth, the performative, the visual and the aural all work together to mediate as vehicles of meaning. In a similar way the transpersonal experience is that experience that occurs outside ordinary consciousness and connects with non-ordinary states of consciousness; experiences above and beyond perceived ordinary reality. In the transpersonal experience is the realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness. The transpersonal space is the site of spiritual self development, the self beyond and above the ego, the mystical and the peak experience. In the contemporary space of transmedia storytelling let us strive towards the universal artwork that synthesises the space of distinct discplines and ways of making to mythologise the revelation of the transpersonal. The transpersonal is becoming more and more an academic field of study and it is important to once again become the vanguards of storytelling through the interplay of artforms to give physical experience to our empirical understanding of the transpersonal and create a vision of the universal Self through universal art and making.
Text and Photo © Robert Burton. Rob is an artist and writer on the arts and consciousness and is currently working on publishing critical and theoretical texts on the artist as the mediator of the transpersonal. Please contact Rob Burton for more information.