Digital and Interactive Storytelling LAB

It’s on. Mining creativity.

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A 360 shot rendered as 2d; the image’s integrity still holds as a triptych artistically distorting space and time.

Perspective realised in Western art by Giotto di Bondone (1276–1337), popularised by Renaissance auteurs is being rewritten. We’re having to re-imagine new ways of seeing the world — diversity in conventions, thought, and cultural references.

In front of us is contemporary auteur Simon Frederick, the author of Black is the new Black, a highly popular show on the BBC. Behind him another, (yes behind in 360 terms) is his media partner Sherwin Beckford, famed for, amongst others, the stylised MTV Base; Gerald Maclean, an architectural photographer filming on his DJI Osmo.

The something that’s happening will manifest itself as ‘Epic’, says co-producer Simone Pennant of the creative greats of UK Television in The Televisual Powerful List — a working title for a project that celebrates creativity. One of our venerable creative national figures, Sir Lenny Henry received it, endorsed it, left us unawares he’d made us grow an inch taller.

But the something I’m touching on now revolves around a sort of quantum creativity — a meeting of neurons between commercialism, creatives and creative academics.

In this searing white heat era of digital, how on earth do you know, or go about producing exemplar work? From writing blogs, creating films, producing online things e.g. websites, and award winning imagery — these generic categories frame a spectrum of sub practices which even challenge fixed terms.

Some adept people achieve this by themselves, the amateur pros who see no need for education e.g. YouTubers. Mostly everyone with a will to write, buoyed by passion and perhaps adhering to Gladwell’s 10,000 hours, can produce a blog and make their way in the world without being coached about how and what to write.

Then, there are those who seek knowledge through higher education — an MA, or BA. What of their value? How do they differ from the amateur pros? They accrue knowledge from professional educators who create study plans and accelerate the process of consumption which the amateur pros undertakes.

It used to be simple enough to understand. In a classroom of chalk and board, an educator delivered fixed memes, rules and theories of what to do, how to set out your stall. Do this and that and success will follow.

In digital, disruption to the travel, taxi services, search, accommodation and distribution industries has delivered unequivocal evidence that once normative, conventional standards are in a permanent state of flux. Higher education has, I contend, been largely insulated.

I’m not referring largely to its content and skills, though that in a way impacts the study workflow plan, but to the many processes — the value on knowledge of how to problem-solve in undoing the status quo.

Hence we study modules, fixate on deliverables, and assess students based on success, rather than the many failures which helped them get to where they are. The latter envelops today’s start-up culture. Something else we’ve largely ignored because of the nature of our cannons. ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’, says Peter Drucker. Here I’m referring to culture and diversity at large.

Indeed, which theory or methodology amongst digital’s inexorable characteristic towards nimbleness, adroitness, ability to be malleable, sometimes conflicting itself, do you apply or use to create a product?

Is there a digital theory, or theories? Alas the text is still being written. But if anything it’s lobotomised the approach that has perennially made distinctions between art (creativity) from science (systematic approach).

More often than not theory gets a bad rap; it’s misunderstood. Theory, framed by film critic David Bordwell exists in its gestation state as a system of propositions which the user attempts to explain the function and nature of a product. Akin to a scientific experiment, the user pushes from conception to coherence of product by proving how the end product derives from the testing, and retesting.

The issue appears to be a straining on the dialectical, logicism trumps the magic of artistry — unquantifiable c.f. William Blake.

Terms such as deductivism, and inductivism precede digital. One posits we apprehend a problem by making assumptions to make sense of patterns in front of us, the other is a tabula rasa from which we’ll build our product. Today, you’ll hear words such as design thinking, computational workflow, workflow integration, and art theory.

This September, we launch our LAB, a place to explore how to create, not as readily take away meals, but as gastronomic exercises in finding new ways of expression, where we reward endeavour and curiosity, where we build one theory only to acknowledge its verity then see its vulnerabilities elsewhere, where teaches us how to think is rewarded over imbibing chalk and board methods.

I’m looking forward to inviting today’s contemporary auteurs to share their ideas with the LAB.

Written by

Top Writer & Creative Technologist, Int. Award Winner. Cinemajournalist. Cardiff Uni @jomec. PhD (Dublin). Visiting Prof UBC, Ex BBC/C4News. Apple profiled.

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