literary review on co-creative media practice (version: May 2011)


So this is my slightly outdated litrev from May 2011. I wrote it for my first annual PhD review at UNSW (Sydney).

Co-creative Practice in Participatory Narratives: Examining How Practice Enables And Limits Collective Storytelling

i: Practice/Performance
– Social Practice
– Media Practice
ii: Participatory Storytelling
– Objects Have Agency
– Authorship And Oeuvre in Peer Narratives
– Collaboration, Knowledge, And Learning
iii: Playful Narrative
– Immersion And Interactivity
– Play And Creativity
Concluding Remarks

Since the last decade of the 20th century, social media and affordable digital technology lead to a steadily growing DIY culture (Manovich 2008: 33, Lash 2007). This democratization of production through the many-to-many nature of the www affects how stories are told and perceived, most notably through a culture of sharing, remixing and commenting (Amerika, 2011). In this context, multichannel narratives – which are characterized by locally dispersed authors who share, create, and circulate content across diverse media platforms (Jenkins 2006) – have become popular among the industry and audience alike. Films and TV show convey complex stories that operate on a multitude of levels, employ plots within another plot and extend to other media. In order to play and dig deeper, the audience can follow the story and contribute to it through different media. Websites, mobile apps, locative media, or pervasive games offer content that enriches characters and story universe (cf. Dena 2009, Jenkins 2006, Rose 2011, Handler Miller 2008, Bernardo 2011, Gomez 2010, Montola/Stenros/Waern 2009).

This literary review on participatory storytelling is a result of refining key themes that unite my case studies and their theoretic foundation. Bridging media studies and anthropology opens two crucial pathways to answering how media practices change narrative form and interaction. By drawing on scholarly expertise in both disciplines, I can map the field in quite some diversity. Depending on the knowledge I gain during fieldwork, I can then choose and combine suitable theoretic concepts, which ideally inform one another. For my specific case study, three aspects are predominant. The first is media practice (i). Examining phenomena of new media production is complex, mainly since the realm of mobile technology lacks ‘spatial, social, and temporal boundaries’, which ‘makes it difficult to maintain distinct social contexts’ (Boyd 2011: 23:20). Looking at practice in its various forms is a way of subsuming those aspects under one roof, which determines the interplay of all the different parameters within. The second aspect is participatory storytelling (ii). As mobile technologies become more and more pervasive in everyday life, so does media consumption and production. In this surrounding, storytelling across various channels including various actors becomes dispersed and something new entirely. The third aspect is how this ubiquitous virtual platform inspires playful narratives (iii). In order to self-publish and co-create, professionals and amateurs interact, collaborate, and employ different media devices interchangeably, developing multimodal literacy that diverts from linear text consumption. Such narratives might feature new forms and lead to different ways of interaction, of which new media practice is the very source.

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