The Ends of Publishing

Abstract (in English): 

If the media was the message for McLuhan in the 1960s, then audio-visual publishing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo have become a message today. In his 1998 article entitled “Database as Symbolic Form,” Lev Manovich fails to foresee the socially hypermediated turn of the new century when he argues that “database and narrative are natural enemies. Competing for the same territory of human culture, each claims an exclusive right to make meaning out of the world” (p. 7). From a purely mathematical, logical viewpoint, they do at first seem at odds, since the database is the superstructure and the narrative media files are the objects oriented within. For example, a database might house narrative-less stock photos or sound effects as easily as it does an audio-visual story. The (early) media database seems indifferent to its contents and does not seem to be able to tell a story. Likewise, the narrative within a digital movie file is indifferent to its matrix-host, because the “story” operates regardless of whether you play the film on a DVD player, digital projector, or a YouTube download.

Electronic literature challenges Manovich’s perceived divide. Where does the “story” reside in a narrative-driven video game: its interface? Its database of media objects? The image and sound files? The algorithms? The players’ interactions? The gaming system? The best answer we can probably give is that the narrative is realized through an alchemical interaction between every piece and player. If so, then there must be deeply reciprocal relationships between electronic narratives and the platforms through which they are published. And, just as importantly, these symbiotic relationships continue to evolve, constantly redefining narrative as well as publication.

The ELO Conference prompts us to explore the shifting boundaries and relationships between narratives and publishing platforms. As a case study, this presentation examines how the current generation of novice filmmakers are pursuing new ideas about narratives and stories as demonstrated on three media platforms: YouTube, Vimeo, and Vine. This case focuses on three developments in socially hypermediated publishing platforms:

Ethos and the collapsing divisions between media producer, consumer, and critic.
Temporality and the declining patience with long stories.
Literature and the persistence of the power of words.

(Source: ELO 2015 Conference Catalog)

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Record posted by: 
Hannah Ackermans