The Forensics of Desire: Deconstructing Narrative in Multimedia

By Dana Coester.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This workshop with film excerpt intends to explore new forms of multimedia narrative. The film’s “story” is located in typography, design, photography, animation and video as an intertwined narrative that reads in more than one direction. Visually it explores the graphic intersection of words and image and examines simultaneity in multimedia, exploiting shifts in time and perspective. The film excerpt will launch this discussion for the workshop and examine how far a memory or story can be deconstructed into visual multimedia that are both nonlinear and simultaneous and still achieve meaning and coherence as a narrative.
The paper presents a unique application of the spreading activation theory of memory as the basis for narrative structure in a multimedia work and proposes an interdisciplinary approach to documentary journalism that bridges work in the worlds of cognitive science, sociology and art. This paper will discuss the specific visual and narrative techniques employed in Pretty to replicate the branching, associative, impressionistic experience of memory. It will demonstrate how the origins of this associative structure parallel the emergence of hypertext narratives enabled by computers and the web. And although the goals of replicating memory and perceptions of experience are similar to what emerged through literary and gaming hyper narrative techniques, Pretty’s structure is primarily informed by pre-Internet graphic design practice and the models proposed in the spreading activation theory of memory.
View film:

Keywords: Multimedia, Film, Documentary, Photography, Photojournalism, Journalism, Typography, Design, Graphics, Nonlinear, Evidence, Narrative, Memory, Cognitive Theory

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.19-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 9.034MB).

Dana Coester

Assistant Professor, PI Reed School of Journalism, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

Dana Coester is an assistant professor in the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism. She is a former art director and contributor with Time Inc. Her research examines the future of storytelling with special interests in creative direction, visual narrative, multimedia, and all things experimental in media co-creation. Coester’s creative direction and design has been honored as a 2009 Webby honoree for motion graphics and special effects, a gold and silver Telly, and Communicator Awards from the International Academy of the Visual Arts. Coester earned her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1993.