steve hawley

 

artists’ film and video

Generative narrative DVD piece. When the DVD is played it continues for ever playing voiceover, atmos and images.


2010 Yarn Generative narrative DVD. Australian International Experimental Video Festival Melbourne. Cleveland International Narrative Conference 2011 Manchester City Art Gallery 2013, Seamless MAO Ljubljana 2013.


Funded by

LabCulture; Arts Council of England; Thanks to N. W. Film Archive, Manchester School of Art


In 1952 the French ‘nouvelle romancier” Michel Butor wrote a novel L’Emploi du Temps, about a young Frenchman who comes to a Northern English city called Bleston for a year, and about the difficulties and triumphs he has adapting to the cold, the rain, and the British way of life. In its strange repetitive style, part experimental narrative, part detective story, the novel seems to anticipate interactive fiction.


In fact the story is based on Butor’s own experiences in Manchester, where he worked as a language assistant at the university. The Manchester of the fifties is readily recognisable, its architecture and cathedral, the awful food, the buses that the protagonist uses to criss cross the city, even the map of Bleston that Butor includes at the beginning of the novel which resembles that of the present city centre.


I have made a film inspired by the novel, written by myself, as a “recombinant narrative” or generative cinema DVD video installation, using archive footage of Manchester of the 1950s, and a voiceover spoken by a computer programme, which uses the capacity of the DVD medium to present different scenes and spoken text so that the narrative never repeats itself.


The experience is like the 1001 nights, in that the story has no beginning and no end, but rather an immersion in a narrative world where fact and fiction are blended.


The piece is both a meditation on the nature of narrative itself, as mediated through technology, but also a series of speculations on the real and the fictional Manchester, as seen through the pessimistic eye of an outsider, a foreigner 50 years ago.

Yarn 2010

(linear version of generative DVD)

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