Future Cinema

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


GS/FILM 6245, GS/HUMA 6245, GS/CMCT 6507

Future Cinema 1

CLASS TIME:  Wednesday  2:30-5:30 p.m.


COURSE DIRECTOR: Prof. Caitlin Fisher

OFFICE: 303F GCFA or 311 for office hours

OFFICE HOURS: Wednesdays 10-12 p.m.

E-MAIL: caitlin@yorku.ca

PHONE NUMBER: 416-736-2100, ext. 22199 – but email is best

Classes start Sept 8
Last date to announce components of final grades Sept 22
Fall Reading Days (no classes, University open) Oct. 27-30
Last date to drop course without receiving a grade Nov 11
Last date to submit Fall term work Dec 5
Fall classes end Dec 5

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it” – Alan Kay

“We stand now at the intersection of lure and blur. The future beckons, but we’re only partway through inventing it. We can see the outlines of a new art form, but its grammar is as tenuous and elusive as the grammar of cinema a century ago.” – Frank Rose

Course Description

This course examines the shift from traditional cinematic spectacles to works probing the frontiers of interactive, performative, and networked media. Drawing upon a broad range of scholarship, including film theory, communication studies, cultural studies and new media theory, the course will consider how digital technologies are transforming the semiotic fabric of contemporary visual cultures. The great realist film theorist André Bazin predicted that the future of cinema would be a holographic form without boundaries. In this moment Bazin’s vision is begining to be realized, but co-exists with its opposite: frames within frames that foreground the materiality of the screen. The course will begin with the phenomenon Gene Youngblood described four decades ago as ‘expanded cinema’, i.e., an explosion of the frame outward towards immersive, interactive and interconnected forms of culture. With an emphasis on immersion, connectivity and mobility, we will consider the new models and metaphors that theorists from Marshall McLuhan to Gilles Deleuze have used to address the changed status of the moving image and concomitant transformations in screen technology. Our trajectory will be framed by a series of questions that are both ontological and epistemological in nature: what constitutes the ‘new’ in new media? How are digital aesthetics different from film aesthetics? What new forms of spectatorship and storytelling, political community and commodity production are being enabled? While the course is concerned with recent developments in cinema technology and digital poetics, these are framed by an understanding of the digital not simply as a technology but also as an experience of space and time tied to capitalism (Bauman 2000).

A range of popular and experimental media will allow us to situate these questions across different contexts of convergent and unstable media cultures. Students will be encouraged to explore these questions through both theoretical reflection and practical experiments using old and new media technologies.

to be finalized second class, after I have found out who you are and why you are here.

Required Texts

TBD second class (nb that readings for week 2 are all online).
In recent years required texts have included:

Farman, Mobile Interface Theory: Embodied Space and Locative Media 2012

Sean Cubbitt, The Cinema Effect, 2004

Murray, Digital Baroque: New Media Art and Cinematic Folds, 2008

Jeffrey Shaw and Peter Weibel, Future Cinemas: The Cinematic Imaginary After Film, MIT (out of print, but if you can find one, grab it – but note that the articles we read have been scanned and uploaded)

Ladley and Beezly eds Mobile Nation. Riverside Press

Public 40: Screens: http://public.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/public/issue/view/2058/showToc

Frank Rose The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories

Marshall McLuhan Understanding Media MIT 1994 (1964) (any edition is fine. widely available second-hand and in library)

Lev Manovich, Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database and associated website <http://www.softcinema.net/>

Jane McGonnigal Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and her website http://realityisbroken.org/

Siobhan O’Flynn  Transmedia, Multiplatform, & Convergent Resource Kit: http://www.tmcresourcekit.com/

Scott Lucas The Immersive Worlds Handbook: Designing Theme Parks and Consumer Spaces 2013

Ian Bogost  How to talk about Video Games 2015

Katherine Ibister How games move us – emotion by design 2016

Frank Rose The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories

Jane McGonnigal Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and her website http://realityisbroken.org/

Mary Flanagan  Critical Play: Radical Game Design 2009

Callahan and Kuhn, Future Texts: Subversive Performance and feminist Bodies 2016

Online Reading kit (available through the archival course website).  The course website has been used for over ten years for both Future Cinema 1 and 2.  In addition to housing many of the required readings for this course, the site is searchable and you can have access to a rich variety of posts that students have offered over the years – artist works, reading summaries, a record of conferences and exhibitions in the field and discussions of emerging technologies.  Please consider the site to be an important resource for your work. Nb – some assigned readings may not have been uploaded to the site – but you can find most of these assigned texts via a google search. If you find a good source for a reading, please post and tag.


In Future Cinema 2 I have often used a contract grading system rather than engage in traditional grading exercises. You can find some of the rationale for my motivation here:


I am considering contract grading for this class and we will discuss this at the first meeting.

Here is last year’s evaluation rubric:

Participation: Ongoing evaluation, 20%

Being part of an intellectual community means attending class regularly and punctually, reading thoughtfully in advance and involving yourself in class discussions in a way that enables you and other students to learn.

Participation also includes a pass/fail show and tell. As the name suggests – at the beginning of each class at least one of you is invited to share a work that resonates with the course – a film or game that you admire, an installation you saw,  technology in the news that we should all see – discussing your own future cinema-related work is definitely encouraged! Also, in addition to being responsible for making a larger effort at least once, and committing to a day to do so, please feel free to share this kind information at any time!

Assignment 1: Short screens paper, 10%

Produce a quick conceptual model of a screen for future cinema– this should take you no more than a couple of days to prepare. You can produce a page of writing, a sketch, or a model OR pick an existing screen for cinema beyond a screen for single-channel cinema that you are interested in exploring creatively (Oculus Rift? Mobile phone?) . (How) does the screen itself affect audience? Would it support different kinds of narratives/experiments? (in other words, what would this new screen enable?). What kind of story does it inspire you to tell?  Be prepared to discuss your work. Due week 2, September 22nd

Assignment 2: Research Proposal, 10%.

Students are required to submit a research proposal with bibliography. This will be presented orally in class on Week 5, October 12th (pass/fail). Final written proposal due Week 8 November 2nd.

Assignment 3: Oral presentation of one of the assigned readings and written summary due at least two days before oral presentation, posted to class blog 20%.

These will be assigned the second week of classes. You will be required to summarize the major points or themes of the text, compare and contrast the viewpoints expressed in the piece with those of other authors and critically assess the article and its relationships to the broader themes, issues and practices considered in the course.  You are asked to prepare three to four questions from the reading to facilitate class discussion and extend the ideas expressed in the article with at least one future cinema example.  Students are evaluated on the quality of ideas and material presented and the ability to generate stimulating conversation. Consider a novel presentation form.

Each student must summarize the above in written form and distribute it to the class in advance of the discussion, via the website. The contents of the written summary should not be more than four double-spaced pages. You are encouraged to upload images and video, as appropriate. The oral presentation of your text should not exceed 15-20 minutes in length, followed by 20 minutes of discussion.

Assignment 5: Paper or Research-Creation Project 40%.

Students undertake a research essay or an individual or collaborative research-creation project directly pertaining to the theoretical and creative work discussed in this class. An artist statement and bibliography must accompany creative work. Please note that while many kinds of creative projects might be acceptable, equipment and lab time and instruction in the use of specific technologies is not provided part of this studies course – so maquettes, paper prototypes, online multi-modal works etc. might be good choices.  Final projects and paper topics must be approved by the professor. Due Week 12, November 30th – last day of class.  Students should also be prepared to present their final papers or projects to the class.

Ethics Reminder

If your final project will involve human participants (e.g. conducting interviews with anyone outside of the class; videotaping people for a hypermedia project), you will need to demonstrate familiarity with the ethics requirements of the university when you submit your proposal. You can find the university policy regarding ethics here: <www.yorku.ca/ffares/Ethics.htm>

Attendance Policy

Please see participation requirements, above. It will be impossible to do well in this course if you do not attend regularly.

Seminar Schedule (provisional)

I will make every effort to follow the syllabus as outlined, but reserve the right to make scheduling changes when further discussion of a given topic is required or to take advantage of unforeseen events and opportunities. Web resources will be added throughout the term for enrichment and to reflect students’ interests. Please check the class blog for up-to-date scheduling information and last minute changes.

Week 1 September 16th, Introduction to the course/Expanded Cinema


To screen:

The Evolution of Cinema and the Birth of a New Art Form: Tom Perlmutter (FoST 2013)



shaw Future Cinema – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJo6xZYq1rk

PUBLIC EVENT you should attend:  FIVARS September 16-18th

FIVARS | Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories
September 16-18th, Toronto \


Week 2, September 21st, Screens and expanded cinema histories

Due: Short screens reflection paper


Josef Svoboda “Polyvision” (FC)

Peter Weibel “Expanded Cinema” (FC)

Randall Packer “Pepsi Pavillion” (FC)

Andre Bazin “Myth of Total Cinema”

Screens: Public 40 – http://public.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/public/issue/view/2058/showToc (no need to read everything – explore 3 or 4 or the very short pieces)

NPR: How are Screens Changing us? (audio recording)


Suggested local event:
The CinemaExpo67 Research Group has been working over many years to excavate and digitally reconstruct the multi-screen films that played at Montreal’s Expo 67.
Part of the in/future Festival of Art & Music at Ontario Place (Toronto), we’ll be presenting some of the celebrated films over three programs on Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24.
Imax was imagined by filmmakers like Graeme Ferguson and Roman Kroitor, the inventors of Imax, whose films we are screening along with some of Ontario Place’s Imax Collection produced throughout the 1970s.
The programs celebrate Canada’s cinematic heritage, as well as features new and experimental works by contemporary media artists inspired by the original event will be screened. Animation, found and decayed footage, and multi-screen performance brings the event into the 21st century.
For more information:  infuture.ca


Week 3, September 28th Cinematic Worldbuilding – new methods, new screens, new cameras, new narrative frames

The 5D Institute http://worldbuilding.usc.edu/

Scott Lucas The Immersive Worlds Handbook: Designing Theme Parks and Consumer Spaces 2013

Environmental Theatre: Sleep No More

PUBLIC 47: 3D Cinema and Beyond

Immersive environments lab http://gears.aset.psu.edu/viz/projects/vr/iel/

Week 4, October 4th, Games and game architectures

Bogost How to Talk about Video Games

Mary Flanagan  Critical Play: Radical Game Design 2009

Screen: Way to Go (2015)  By Vincent Morisset with Philippe Lambert, Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit, and Caroline Robert. Produced by Hugues Sweeney and Boris Razon in association with the National Film Board of Canada. Way to Go is a playable film that rewards the curious on a walk through a mysterious, colorful, 3-D forest.


Amy Fredeen  http://futureofstorytelling.org/video/world-games/   the first indigenous-owned video game company.

Chris Charla: Level Up -  http://futureofstorytelling.org/video/level-up/


Connected Immersionhttp://futureofstorytelling.org/video/connected-immersion/

Explore: Alternate Reality Games: Majestic,Yellow Arrow, I Love Bees

Works on the Alternate reality Gaming Network http://www.argn.com/
“Storytelling in New Media: The case of alternate reality gaming, 2001-2009” (Jeffrey Kim, et. al.)

Portal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TluRVBhmf8w

Tracy Fullerton Game Design Workshop: Designing, Prototyping, & Playtesting Games (Gama Network Series)

Week 5, October 12th,   Hypermedia/narrative/digital storytelling


Hayles, Katherine. How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

Vanevar Bush “As We may Think” (online)

Screen in class: Interactive Video 101 -  http://futureofstorytelling.org/video/interactive-video-101/


“Interactive Cinema group, MIT Media Lab” (FC)

Lumiere festival of interactive film and storytelling www.hyperbole.com/lumiere/entries.html

Welcome to Pine Point (2011/2015)

By the Goggles (Michael Simons and Paul Shoebridge) and the NFB Digital Studio Vancouver. Produced by The National Film Board of Canada. Pine Point was a mining town in Northwest Canada that was abandoned when its mine closed. This interactive web documentary brings Pine Point back to life using interviews, photographs, text, and home videos to construct a digital scrapbook of the town.


Week 6 October 19th, Mobility/Connectivity/Distributed networks

Due: Presentation of possible projects and essay topics (this is an opportunity for you to receive feedback from the entire class in order to assist you in framing and writing your proposals).


Jagoda, Patrick. Network Aesthetics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016

Kathy Rae Huffman “Video, networks and Architecture; some physical realities of electronic space”

Week 7  October 26th Experience Design, and emotion

Katherine Ibister How games move us – emotion by design 2016

Being there: uncanny medium, methodological multiplicity and proliferative embodied creativity in The Haunting  Mobile Nation

The Haunting: voices from beyond in mobile experince design  Mobile Nation

Connected Immersion -  http://futureofstorytelling.org/video/connected-immersion/


Storytelling and Big Data

Artist Matt Adams’s work playfully explores the storytelling potential of new technologies. His present fascination is big data. How will stories be influenced by our ability to learn personal details about our audiences? What are the limits of personalization?




Julian Bleeker WI-FI Bedouin


Andrea Zapp (ed.) Networked narrative Environments as Imaginary Spaces of being

LiveCinema “expressive interface for cinema editing as live performance” (online)
Office Voodoo – interactive film installation for two people (online)

Birdman project – interactive dance 5 sites from US, 5 from Brazil (online)

Espen Aarseth “Ergodic texts” (online)

Noah Wardrip-Fruin  First Person : New Media as Story, Performance, and Game  (excerpt)

Burnett, “Computer Games” (online)

“Massively Multiplayer Online Games” (online)

To screen in class: Tracy Fullerton, Game Designer, Interactive Media Division, USC School of Cinematic Arts http://worldbuilding.institute/videos/building-worlds-pt-3-tracy-fullerton

Descent to the underworld – the game film

Play As Process Feb 15, 2011 // Play As Process // 5D at the 2011 Berlinale Talent Campus
“Game Design as Narrative Architecture” (Jenkins)

Recommended: http://www.machinima.com/
Blur + sharpen; time machines www.iml.Annenberg.edu/blursharpen

http://www.gamespot.com/news/2005/03/10/news_6120167.html — emily dickinson game

Noah Wardrip-Fruin  First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game, MIT 2004

Espen Aarseth Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature John Hopkins University Press, 1997

Week 8 November 2nd Transmedia Storytelling

Due: Paper/ project proposals.

Guest: Siobhan O’Flynn

Siobhan O’Flynn  Transmedia, Multiplatform, & Convergent Resource Kit: http://www.tmcresourcekit.com/

Week 9, November 9th, Virtual Reality

Digital Baroque: New Media Art and Cinematic Folds


Unlocking VR’s Potential


1979 Revolution Game (2015)

By Ink Stories (Navid Khonsari and Vassiliki Khonsari) Produced by Jeff Birns, Jason Schreiber, Andres Perez-Duarte, and Adam Neuhas. Experience the Iranian political upheaval of the late 1970s as young photojournalist Reza, making life-or-death decisions in a game of personal betrayal and social disorder.

Clouds Over Sidra (2015)

By Gabo Arora and Chris Milk Directed and Produced by Gabo Arora and Barry Pousman. Produced by VRSE.works. Presented in partnership with the United Nations. Commissioned by the United Nations, Clouds Over Sidra was created at the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. Twelve-year-old Sidra leads the user around the camp, home to 84,000 Syrian refugees, as she goes about her day.


Nonny de el Pena Journalism in the Age of Virtual Reality -  http://futureofstorytelling.org/video/journalism-in-the-age-of-virtual-reality/

8 classic films to learn from now that virtual reality is real


Week 10, November 16th, Augmented Reality


Gaston Bachelard The Poetics of Space

Lev Manovich “poetics of augmented space”

Jason Farman, Mapping and Representations of Space Mobile interface theory: Embodied Space and Locative media

Screen in class:

Beau Lotto: Understanding Perception -  http://futureofstorytelling.org/video/beau-lotto-understanding-perception/

Gaia Dempsey: Knowledge Transfer -  http://futureofstorytelling.org/video/gaia-dempsey-knowledge-transfer/

Untitled on Google Cube (2014) »

By Google’s Creative Lab, Sydney and Semi-Permanent Directed by Steve Ayson and Damien Shatford. Produced by the Sweet Shop. Google Cube is an experimental interface for interactive films. In Untitled, viewers navigate among six plots mapped to the six sides of the Cube. The stories, which range from tales of rebirth to tragedy, unfold simultaneously; turn the Cube to discover how they connect.


Meta: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7I7JuQXttw

52 card psycho http://52cardpsycho.com


OSC pop-up pieces

Toronto Museum Project


Walter Benjamin “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (online)

Week 11, November 23rd, Database Cinema and interactive documentary practices


Martha Kinder “Designing a Database Cinema” (FC)

Lev Manovich “Soft Cinema (FC)

Lev Manovich “database/narrative” (online)

Chris Marker “Immemory” (FC)

Thomas Elsaesser, “The New Film History as Media Archeology.”


To be screened  in class:

Soft cinema CD-ROM

Immemory CD-ROM

Korsakow cinema examples

Possibilia (2014)

By DANIELS (Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert) Presented by Xbox Entertainment Studios. Produced by PRETTYBIRD in collaboration with Interlude In Possibilia, a man and a woman are having a fight directed by you. This interactive short film, starring Alex Karpovsky (Girls) and Zoe Jarman (The Mindy Project), lets you determine the tone and actions of a couple breaking up.


Bear 71

Bear 71 (2012)

By Leanne Allison, Jeremy Mendes, and the NFB Digital Studio Produced by the National Film Board of Canada. A 20-minute interactive film, Bear 71 tells the story of a female grizzly bear in Banff National Park, dubbed Bear 71 by the park rangers who radio-collar and track her.

Week 12, November 30th: Final class

Party and mini conference

Final projects due

Gene Youngblood “A Manifesto for the Internet”.

Norman Klein “The Future of the Cinematic City” (FC)