The Language of New Media

Topics: Computer, Film, Narratology Pages: 8 (2737 words) Published: January 22, 2006
…and Interactivity Met with Cinema
"The movie, by sheer speeding up the mechanical, carried us from the world of sequence and connections into the world of creative configuration and structure. The message of the movie medium is that of transition from linear connections to configurations." (McLuhan, 1994, p.12)

On August 19, 1839, Louis Daguerre, who was already known for his diorama, introduced the new process of "daguerreotype". With this process, some lucky amateurs, for the first time became able to shoot their roof-top silhouettes against the sky. And that is how the media frenzy had begun according to Lev Manovich. Around the same time, in 1833, Charles Babbage began designing a device called "the Analytical Engine." This device is contained most of the key features to the modern digital computer. A processing unit performed operations on some data and the final results were printed out onto a paper. And this can be considered as the first machine to make analytical calculations, in modern words, the first computer. Although these two events continued their development in parallel, for a long time they did not cross into each others paths. Jumping in the history to the 20th century, in 1936, Konrad Zuse, who is a German engineer, began building a computer which was considered to be the first working digital computer. Zuse's innovation was using punched tape to control computer programs, which was actually discarded 35mm movie film. So the year 1936 became the year that the cinema and the computer development crossed into each others path. As the iconic code of the cinema is discarded in the favor of more efficient binary one, this is also how the cinema became a slave to the computer. (Manovich, 2001, p.21-25)

Through the history of the cinema, the directors have searched for better reflection of realism and way of immersing the viewer into the streaming images. Introduction of the perspective, reproduction of photographic images, streaming pictures and even neutral colors were not enough to create the real realism. Even 3-D and I-Max movies did not create the real sense of realism because none of these were able to break the one-way communication between the media and the viewer.

Andrea Bazin can be considered to be one of the first directors to develop a humanist approach to cinema in terms of realism. Instead of combining different shots together to reflect the realism, the used deep-focus cinematography that shows a whole room and even beyond the room in a single frame, where from the nearest point to the far point, all in focus. Bazin he gave the opportunity to the viewer, where the viewer decides where to concentrate on the frame. Thus, the ‘different views' were combined in the head of the viewer. However, this was also not enough in terms of ‘reality' and the immersion of the viewer into the medium, so it was time to show up some interactivity.

The storyline and narration of a tradition movie is a plain line which holds certain amount of plot points. Plot points are narration elements which carries the important events that change the flow of the story and the narrative situation. In order to break up the traditional narration, the decision of the places of the plot points on the storyline should be left to the viewer. The popular notion of ‘interactivity' is to turn these plot points into ‘nodes', so that the two dimensional storyline is upgraded into a three dimensional node map. With the changing of plot points into three dimensional node maps, important decisions in the story are no longer made by the ‘hero' of the story, but the viewer himself. This means that the traditional movie is altered in a way that it is interrupted from time to time to make the viewer choose among two or more different possibilities on how the story will continue. So that the traditional hero-viewer identification turns into a hero-viewer unity. The first application of this idea was presented on the 1967 Montreal...

Cited: • McLuhan, Marshall, Understanding Media. The Extensions of Man, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1994
• Manovich, Lev, The Language of New Media, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2001
• Hales, Chris, New Paradigms New Movies. Interactive Film and New Narrative Interfaces in New Screen Media. Cinema/Art/Narrative, BFI Publishing, London, 2002
• Juul, Jesper, A Clash between Game and Narrative, April 2001,
• Weiberg, Birk, Beyond Interactive Cinema, August 2002,
• 2000,
• D-Dag, 2000,
• Silverman Jason, Digital Cinema Plays with Form, 2000,
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