This is our completed korsakow sketch film, click here to play.
For many years, linear storytelling has formed the basis of literary and digital works. However, the idea of a sequential narrative, told from a third-person perspective and using formal language is becoming increasingly irrelevant to readers and distant from reality. According to David Shields, author of manifesto ‘Reality Hunger’, collage is a much more engaging way of telling a story. Shields believes that an artistic movement is brewing, one in which telling a story through fragmentation invites readers to interpret their own understanding of a text. (Shields, 2011) The challenge, then, is in finding the best way to arrange fragments of a theme to create an engaging film for users.
As a group, we decided on the theme of ‘water’ for our K-Film. While originally we had planned to specify an aspect of water that we found particularly interesting to focus on in our piece (for example, bodies of water), we concluded that there are many different contexts for water and that it would be best to include as wide a range as possible in our film. The final film encompasses the sanctity of water in our lives, the crucial role it plays in our existence, and the dangers we face in wasting water.
The way that we have ordered our clips within Korsakow is purposely disjointed, random and at times two clips lack a common theme apart from the fact that they both include water. This was a creative decision and through this method we hope to mimic the role of water in the life of the audience. We have ordered the clips to somewhat juxtapose each other because water affects our lives in all different kinds of ways, many not directly relating to others. For example, the choice to put a clip of someone drinking directly before a clip of a large body of water appears to have no commonality apart from the fact that they both involve water, which is the purpose of the film. In the film, the concept of collage assists in conveying to audiences that water is the basis for all life. By using so many clips showcasing the different ways that water affects our lives, we can give the audience the impression that water is everywhere, and is essential to our existence.
Another influence that we had when deciding how to arrange our film was the words that we chose to appear as text threads alongside some of the videos. The main purpose of these words was to invite the audience to reflect on the ways that water affects their lives, and allow them to immerse themselves in situations where they may not have such easy access to water. We chose appropriate facts and quotes to use and matched up the text to a relevant video. We then made sure that two similar text threads could not be chosen to screen consecutively within the piece, again to portray to the audience that water is not one-dimensional within our lives – it affects us in so many ways that we are not even aware of. We needed something more than the order of the clips to engage our audience and found the use of a text thread to be an extremely valuable tool as it gave us another medium to evoke emotion from our viewers.
Many of the clips filmed were visually very appealing, but did not allow for the kind of reflection and appreciation that we intended for the audience to experience. For example, we wanted to convey to the audience that many people in the world do not have clean drinking water, and that we should view our easy access to clean water as a privilege, not a right. Since we could not film people who had drunk dirty water, we used text to convey this message. In examples such as this, text and the video were also used to form a powerful juxtaposition within the film. To tell the audience through text that a large portion of the world’s population does not access to clean water while showing a clip of the way that our society take water for granted evokes a more emotional reaction. Audiences are confronted by the reality of the situation, and are forced to consider their own view on water usage and wastage.
We also used music to compliment the arrangement of the clips within our film. We chose a mellow, reflective piece, to encourage the audience to reflect. The music is ongoing throughout the entire film, which further encourages the audience to make links between the videos. We considered music to be another crucial aspect of our film as it is undoubtedly influence on the way that users will engage with our film.
We have drawn many of our ideas of collage from the work of David Shields. In his book (referred to as a “manifesto” by Shields), he argues that the traditional narrative form of storytelling is becoming increasingly obsolete in today’s society. His belief stems from the fact that our culture is not “novelistic” but fragmentary, meaning it is made up of many parts. This theory can be applied to our own topic, and we believe that the theme of water is not something that is linear and one-dimensional, but rather something that can be explored from a number of different angles.
Shields’ manifesto incorporates the ideas and work of many different people, as he believes that this makes literature accessible to a wider audience. He believes that there is a new literary style emerging, one in which more unprocessed, random material is incorporated – both trademarks of a collage. Luc Sante, author of book review ‘The Fiction of Memory’, writes that Shields suggests that the role of novels in modern literature is declining because novels are “now as formalized and ritualized as a crop ceremony”. (Sante, 2010) He suggests that the main reason that novels are not able to connect with audiences in the way they once could is because the novel “no longer reflects actual reality”. (Sante, 2010) Reality does not occur in one succession of events closely linked together, and Shields believes that novels should not portray life in this way. Not everything in life happens for a reason, and not everything will lead on to something bigger. Some events in life are isolated and inexplicable, because that is the nature of our existence. Another reason that Shields believes that novels are outdated is because they often speak to readers from a third-person perspective, removing the audience from the story. Sante writes that the novel “shies” from the first person, “insisting that personal experience be modestly draped.” (Sante, 2010) Again, Shields is critical of this style of writing and raises concerns that it does not include the reader in the story. The user-oriented focus of a Korsakow film ensures that the audience gains a sense of connection with the theme. The film is interactive to the point where the audience is forced to choose another clip to keep the film progressing, and this assists in ensuring that the audience is involved. This also makes the audience feel that they are viewing the films in first-person perspective, instead of taking a more withdrawn, outside view of the topic.
It was important to keep in mind Shields’ views towards the way a collage is interpreted by an audience while we were making our Korsakow film. In his piece, he defines collage as “a demonstration of the many becoming the one, with the one never fully resolved because of the many that continue to impinge upon it.” (Shields, 2011) Through this statement, he is making the point that the nature of collage is such that the audience experience fragments of a whole, and this is what they focus on because this is what they are presented with. From these fragments, they may get an idea of the overall message, there will always be gaps, and their idea of the nature of the piece will be constantly changing depending on what fragment they experience. Viewers can choose to either overlook the gaps or concentrate on them, but this is not something that can be decided by the author of the text. Shields also suggests that there can be meaning found in gaps. Since there is no plot to a collage, much of the experience comes from a reader’s interpretation of gaps. Shields reinforces this in saying about collage: “you have to decide for yourself how to read its patterning, but if you pluck it at any point, the entire web will vibrate.” (Shields, 2011)
It light of this, when making our own collage it was important to constantly look at it from two perspectives. We viewed the fragments as individual pieces, and what reaction they alone would incite from viewers, but then also looked at the bigger picture, and tried to gain a sense of the ways the audience would interpret the film as a whole. It is inevitable that the film will be decoded in a number of different ways, both due to the fact that users will each choose different paths in making their way through the film and because of the fact that no two people will read a text exactly the same due to factors such as personality and social context. We focussed on the links between the videos and, perhaps more importantly, the gaps – the areas where the audience would have to make their own connection between the films, and what that connection might be. A lot of the time, we were able to use a text thread to help the audience make a more distinct link between two clips, and we found this to be a very useful tool in editing together our Korsakow film.
Essentially, our film gives users a context, and they must then gain meaning from it for themselves. One of Shields biggest criticisms of the idea of narrative is that it attempts to negate context. He argues that everything has a context, and that this is another aspect of linear storytelling that is not true to life. We have adopted Shields’ theory of fragmentation and have ordered our shots in a way that we think encourages a response from users, however we are aware and have accepted that it could be interpreted different ways. One thing that we needed to be cautious of when using a text thread was that we didn’t turn the work into a narrative. Shields makes it very clear that the real meaning of a collage can be found in its gaps, and that the most effective collages leave the audience having to piece together the text. We were constantly aware that we didn’t want to overload the audience with information, and we were careful to make sure that our text threads didn’t reveal too much about our theme or tell the audience what to think. Our aim was to provide them with a prompt that they would then generate their own response to.
After much discussion, we decided to make an ending for our Korsakow film. Although there are definitely merits in making a perpetual film, we thought that with a topic such as this we wanted to give the audience a sense of closure, and a chance to reflect on what they have seen. We decided to conclude with a clip of Melbourne above a lake, a shot which summarises much of what we would like viewers to consider – about water giving life, and the inextricable link between water and humanity.
– Sante, L, 2010. The Fiction of Memory. The New York Times, [Online]. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/books/review/Sante-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [Accessed 02 June 2013]
– Shields, D, 2011. L: Collage”. Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. Vintage, ebook [Online]. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/books/review/Sante-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0