Soft Cinema  
Ambient Narrative

GUI Series

How to represent the subjective experience of a person living in a global information society? If daily interaction with volumes of data and numerous messages is part of our new "data-subjectivity," how can we visualize this subjectivity in new ways using new media - without resorting to already familiar and "normalized" modernist techniques of montage, surrealism and the absurd?

GUI series investigates a few approaches towards answering these questions. The narratives that drive the movies come from GUI (Global User Interface), a collection of short stories I have been working on since 1998. The narratives take part in the present that has been put through a light science fiction filter.

The visual language of the series tries to represent contemporary "global" identity in a different way by using multiple windows. The particular asymmetrical layout of the screen has been influenced by various sources including financial TV programs, layouts of video surveillance screens, and Mondrian paintings.

Video clips which form the database used in this series have been recorded by me while in Berlin, Tokyo, Riga, Tokyo, San Paolo and other locations since 1999. The keywords which describe the location of each clip are used by software in assembling the movies. (Note that in the process of logging the clips many of them were mis-labeled - for instance a clip shot in Berlin was labeled "Los Angeles," and so on.)

Each video clip in the database follows Dogma 95 rules: it was shot in continuous takes without edits using a hand-held camera. Some of the clips are simulated - i.e. a still image was animated to look like a video shot on location.

Each story takes place in a different location: Texas, Hamburg, Kiev, Mongolia, etc. (In writing the short stories, I tried to follow the principle that they can only take place in locations that I have never visited.)

Typically, a story have been divided into a number of sequential parts, each part becoming a short movie. At the beginning of each segment, the software generates a new screen layout, which can be comprised of two to six different windows. Software also selects which video clips and animations will play in these windows and in what order. This process is repeated for each part of the narrative. Following the same modular logic, in some editions different voices are used for different parts of each story.

The small window that appears in the bottom left corner identifies the part of the story currently playing (for instance, texas_01.txt, texas_02.txt, etc.) A narrow, horizontal window which appears sometimes presents scrolling sentences selected from the same story segment.


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