Michael Buckley

Michael Buckley Multimedia As Theatre

The two main interactives I will be presenting are 'The Good Cook' and 'East Timor,Culture, Resistance and Dreams of Return' . They have both been developed from theatrical models.

1. Interactives as Social Documentarys. I believe the interactive medium as a form for the social documentation of a subject or issues has not been explored fully. It would seem that educational interactives are either being used as a reference source, as a way to gather facts and figures and information about a particular topic (usually with text based information), or use the game format.as a learning aid. My interest is in the dramatic crossovers between the social documentary format of film, radio and theatre and the new interactive environment. How the interactive medium can be used as a vehicle for new dramatic forms within social documentaries and oral histories. I will explore issues of drama and narrative within the interactive CD ROM environment. The nature of story telling and the issues of form and content, how they effect the dramatic structure within an interactive. The deep syntax of conceptual meaning, the new role of the viewer / participant in interactive. Interactive media offers the possibility of presenting its subject in a way that allows the user a richer plurality of viewpoints. The non linear bature of CD ROM's removes the time constraints of a standard one hour format of film and video. It's the rich plurality of voices that can give a social interactive documentary its strength. Not just one voice or the voice of the expert - but a variety of voices and positions can be given. With the East Timorese project, 'Dreams of Return' a group of East Timorese talk about their experiences. Prior to this, many videos have been made usually by an expert (John Pilger) or non Timorese person about the East Timor story. 'Dreams of Return tries to correct this imbalance. In a sense the role of the author (or director) is diminished. A range of points of view can be heard. The maker or developer of interactive media, may have more of a curatorial role in the design and production of a community based CD Rom than as an author or director.

2. Technical and Design Considerations Too often in multimedia a viewer has to leap around in a work that is designed like the glossy pages of a magazine. The experience often tends to be very ephemeral and shallow. Interactive documentaries are capable of having an interface design that not only allows access to content, but which is highly sympathetic to the subject matter. I prefer the concept of a 'tight conceptual framework' rather than 'the endless possibilities notion' (spoken by computer salesman) when designing a multimedia work. Due to the technical considerations and time factors in the construction of CD ROMS I have found that the environment of the theatre is a good way to develop and produce interactives - just a few sets and costume changes are needed for the actors / participants. Material can be developed on low budgets for multimedia and still be powerful and emotionally engaging.

3. (A Horizontal Axis verses a Vertical Axis), Interactive works can prepare a new space for an encounter between viewer and object. Interactives can follow two different structures that I have borrowed from theatrical ideas of the horizontal and vertical axis in plays. The horizontal axis of ego, consciousness and rationality, tries to figure things out. The vertical axis of psychic depth, plumbs dream and myth to present figures and images. Instead of centre stage literalism of most film and television productions, a vertical axis in multimedia introduces new possibilities and powers of interpretation. The viewer becomes more involved in the artistic process of the work. The viewer becomes aware of things, seen an unseen, words heard and echoed, into the moments of confusion, sensing the dark as a place of shadow, of the other. The viewer in turn organises their perception into habituated patterns of response, making the strange familiar through strategies of identifying and naming, through replaying and hearing repetitive turns of phrase. A 'sensing' process evolves from the attentive viewers willingness to explore the work in their own time. We become familiar, we begin to comprehend and predict certain patterns in characters and scenes. Interactivity gives us this ability to become familiar with, to repeat and to re-acquaint ourselves with a work. My CD ROM, ' The Good Cook' is an inversion of the traditional heroic quest of the 'Hero's Journey' (departure, encounter and return). The cooks quest is thoroughly non heroic, involving three mythic moments, regressing, encountering and sensing. Somewhat like being in a middle of a journey. The base of The Good Cook is built like sections / scenes from a play, but should not be viewed as a direct equivalent. Interactive media in part destroys the holistic integrity of story teller and listener, singer / song, author / reader, director / viewer. There is no original first ground, no homeland...

1. Michael Buckley is a documentary and experimental filmmaker and animator, for over 20 years. Hewas also a member of the sound performance group Arf Arf for ten years. More recently he has become an internationally acclaimed multimedia artist. His CD Rom 'The Swear Club' won , 'The Most Creative Use of the Medium' ATOM (Australian Teachers Of Media) award 1996. It was also shown at the Young Talent Pavillion at MILIA in 1996. He is currently completing on an interactive CD Rom documentary entitled 'The Divided Self' about the East Timorese community in Melbourne, with Julie Shiel at the North Richmond Community Health Centre. JUlie and Michael will soon begin working on a new project to make a website and CD ROM in conjunction with the Diabetes Foundation of Australia. They will be focusing on the Vietnamese, Indo Chinese and Italian Communitys.

2. The Good Cook is a 'theatrically' based CD Rom. The viewer follows a cook in bed during one long night, filled with the cooks 'insomniac' thoughts about his past an present. The cooks anxieties feed his insominia. The only relief is sleep, which comes at 5am. Layers of the cooks life and personality are revealed, as the viewer tracks through many levels and sections of this large and complex work. 'The end of the night is a little forest of up turned chairs.' The Good Cook.

3. Production team members. Producers - Gary Brennan and Michael Buckley Written and designed by Michael Buckley. Vioce - Graham Pitts. Main actors - Marcus Bergner, Vanessa Thompson, Gary Smith, Simeon Buckley Programming - Marco Bresciani and Michael Buckley

4. Funded by The Australian Film Commission

5. Available as a CD Rom for both Mac and PC. 300 megs in size. 6. Available from Michael Buckley. 35 Gold st Collingwood 3066 Australia. phone - 61 - 3 - 94171137 email - mbuckley@c031.aone.net.au

Selected Screenings and Awards
Melbourne and Sydney Film Festivals. Various MIMA screenings since 1986 London Film Festival 1991 Manchester Ethnographic Film Festival 1992 Tour of West Germany by the Cantrills of Australian Experimental Films 1985 Tour of North America by Dirk De Bruyn of Australian Experimental Films 1986 Tour of Western Europe by Marcus Bergner of Australian Experimental Films 1990 Perspecta NSW Art Gallery 1993 Pompidou Centre, Paris, International Festival of Art films St KIlda Film Festival 1991. Best Documentary, 'Ancestor Worship' St Kilda Film Festival 1994. Best Documentary,'Thread of Voice' Melbourne Film Festival 1994. Highly Commended,'Thread of Voice' Best Independent Film Bathurst Film Festival 1994,'Witness' Finalist AFI wards, Witness.1995 St Kilda Film Festival 1995. 'Forever Young' Excellence in filmmaking craft award. Bip Map 100 1994, Melbourne. Computer Art displayed. Interactive Gallery,Southbank. Installation of theThe Swear Club Interactive March / April 1995 Burning the Interface, International Artists CD ROM show, Sydney 1996 Participant, Young Talent Pavilion for ' The Swear Club', MILIA, Cannes, France 1996. Melbourne Film Festival 1996 guest lecturer presentation with The Swear Club. La Terre Blanche Festival, CICV, Montbeliard France. Invited festival guest artist May 1997. Being Connected. Australian Film Commission, Multimedia Conference. Invited Guest Speaker. July 1998 Consciousness Reframed Festival, CAiiA, Wales England. Invited guest artist September 98. Cooking and Filmmaking September 1998 Adelaide. Mercury Cinema. Retrospective screening of film,video, interavtive work. BIB BAG. Television Documentary screening 15th Sep 1998 ABC

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