Sarah Atkinson - Multiple Cameras, Multiple Screens, Multiple Possibilities

Critical thinking questions

  1. What other methodological approaches aside from a practice-led approach could have been employed to investigate the field of interactive cinema?
  2. This essay raises issues concerning audience research; what could be the potential challenges of researching the audience in new media installations and environments?
  3. Does research into new technologies call for a rethink of traditional modes and methodologies of research?
  4. What issues of validity are raised when the researcher is the artist or creator – and therefore very close to or even an integral facet of the research problem under investigation?

In addition, you can view two documentary films which show Sarah’s experiment with TV narratives in action.

Crossed Lines Interactivity Diagram

Crossed Lines Screenplay

Now you have watched the documentary on the making of Crossed Lines, answer the following questions:

1. How would you describe Crossed Lines? Is it an art form, an innovative new form of TV, an interactive media game, a serious sociological instrument – or something else?

2. In your own experience of media, have you experienced high levels of engagement/involvement - ‘user agency’ and ‘dramatic immediateness’- e.g. with film, TV or new technologies (networking sites, Wii etc). If so could you identify what elements are the most compelling or involving for you?

3. Do you think that it is true that all narratives are composed of the same basic elements (as argued by Levi Strauss, Propp and Fiske - see Chapter 2, pages 52-58)? If so what could the Crossed Lines research tell us about them?

4. Compare Dr Atkinson’s use of Crossed Lines with the Glasgow Media group’s ‘media game’ discussed in Chapter 2, page 53. Do you think there are similarities? Might individuals reproduce narrative structures from their own experience of popular media narratives?

5. What similarity is there between Crossed Lines and an alternate reality game (ARG)?

5.1 Does the element of active choice mean that this is a form of collaborative storytelling in operation here?
5.2 Are there ways that Crossed Lines might also appear to cross the line between fiction and reality?
5.3 Is there a sense that the feature of ARG’s ‘puppetmaster’ might be a suspected element here (e.g. in the mysterious and rather sinister central figure)?

6. What might Dr Atkinson’s research using Crossed Lines tell us about:

  • The nature of popular TV narratives and our consumption of them (e.g. ‘soap operas’)?
  • How people view and use media narratives?

 An alternate reality game (ARG) is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants' ideas or actions.
The form is defined by intense player involvement with a story that takes place in real-time and evolves according to participants' responses, and characters that are actively controlled by the game's designers, as opposed to being controlled by artificial intelligence as in a computer or console video game. Players interact directly with characters in the game, solve plot-based challenges and puzzles, and often work together with a community to analyze the story and coordinate real-life and online activities. ARGs generally use multimedia, such as telephones, email and mail but rely on the Internet as the central binding medium. Source

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