Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hyperink Cinema: An Investigation

As N. Katherine Hayles has cautions critics to avoid ‘applying critical models designed for print’ to works of electronic literature in fear that ‘the new possibilities opened for literary creation and interpretation will simply not be seen, she neglects to consider whether the models conceived for electronic literature might be used on works of print, and whether this might cause the scholarly community to reevaluate works using this new critical framework. This idea forms one of the central ideas in my thesis, that the recent proliferation of images and other visual media into print fiction demonstrates that the digital is being ‘remediated’ into print, to use Jay David Bolter’s term, and thus it seems prudent to apply the critical apparatuses developed for hypertext to these works in order that one doesn’t miss the ‘new possibilities’ brought about by this shift.

Therefore, a similar approach seems appropriate when examining the films that fall under the new category called ‘hyperlink cinema,’ a term coined by Alissa Quart that acknowledges the influence of the internet and multitasking on the narrative structure of said films. As with the rem
ediation of the digital into print, examples can be found that predate our modern conceptions of when such a shift would likely have begun, sometime in the late 1980s perhaps, but the majority of the films accepted as falling under this umbrella were produced in the past fifteen years.

While Quart and Roger Ebert seem to mostly define the hypertext film as one in which the characters inhabit separate stories, where we gradually discover how those in one story are connected to those in another, an explanation that is adequate for the audience of their reviews if not the scholarly community, a more specific analysis of how such films achieve these narratives is warranted. Therefore over the next few weeks, I will be exploring different films in an attempt to provide an adequate description of the genre, a beginning from which scholars can investigate the digital influence on the narrative of film. These investigations will also serve me as I prepare to present a paper on this topic at the PCA/ACA National Conference in St. Louis this March.

Grounding this inquiry will be the work of George P. Landow, who has developed four axes by which one can analyze a text to determine of it meets the criteria of hypertext: reader choice, intervention, and empowerment; inclusion of extralinguistic texts; complexity of network structure; and degrees of multiplicity in and variation in literary elements. I may modify these definitions a bit, such as suggesting that ‘extralinguistic texts’ be interpreted as devices which are non-native to the genre of film, and to focus heavily on the complexity of the network structure, analyzing how different facets of a film are ‘linked’ to others, and how that is akin to the links contained in a hypertext.

And while this exercise will allow me to simultaneously research a paper and provide content for this space, I also hope that you find it enjoyable. While the majority of the content will be of this nature, and hopefully will exceed the current pace of three posts a month, there will likely be thoughts on other things too, such as a link between comics and film that I need to read up on and perhaps some insights into the economic costs of airport screenings. Feel encouraged to add your voice to the mix, but more than that, I hope you find what you red here interesting.

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