Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

background info on ‘tracing the decay of fiction’

here is some additional info on one of the dvd-roms we’ll explore tomorrow
all text from
the Labyrinth project, USC

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.

Wed, September 21 2005 » archives, database, digital cinema, digital storytelling