(R)Evolutionary Communication: Defining and Refining Digital Literature, Art and Storytelling

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

As an educator as well as Director of Digital Media Studies at the University of Detroit Mercy, my pedagogical and personal interests lie in how to use media to incorporate inter-disciplinary studies; to use sound, images as well as visual and narrative compositions to communicate multi-dimensional ideas, passions and concepts. In relation to this inter-disciplinary approach, I incorporate the concept of "mixing" to weave together space, design, technology, story-telling and critical discourse. One of the concepts I try to reinforce is that 'space' includes the psychological as well as the physical. In addition, I teach digital media students that "design" is the intentional approach to choreograph the experiential and that digital technology is a tool for exploring these ideas. Accepting this, I challenge the students to consider: how does the user/viewer experience and process the interaction between digital media and the "narrative" of the everyday? 

Two of the texts I am currently interested in utilizing in the process of creating digital media artifacts are: Paul Miller, AKA DJ Spooky's manifesto "Rhythm Science" and Henry Jenkins' "Convergence Culture." One of the concepts Paul Miller addresses is that technology has become a paradigm for individual identity as well as an interface of the everyday events that tell our stories. Henry Jenkins offers critical insight into the multi-levels and interdisciplinary force behind current digital culture as well as the woven process by which technology converges with a sense of self and culture in the digital world. 

Using these texts as the framework for teaching some of the UDM Digital Media Studies courses, students are assigned to create short videos that address ideas from the books. For example, one video project was to weave the concept of "mixing" the students' everyday experiences and perceptions with audio tracks from DJ Spooky's work—using the concept of "synaesthesia" to ultimately weave DJ Spooky's audio pieces, which are themselves, in a sense woven artifacts of historical and auto-biographical reference—with the students' own interpretation of urban life, space and cultural critique. Many of these videos are time-based collages—abstract in nature. Another assignment was for the students to use the tool of technology to assemble Shoebox Stories, short videos taking critical stances on urban issues as well as personal stories and histories of the local culture of Detroit.

(Source: Author's abstract, 2008 ELO Conference)

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Scott Rettberg