If someone would have told me fifteen years ago that a cognitive revolution in 1956 and a cognitive psychologist with the name Jerome Bruner would play a significant role in helping me to explain what I was doing, it would have been as odd as if someone told a car mechanic to read Nietzsche to explain how cars work. But that’s what happened when I moved my profession as a director and screenwriter in film and television to the interactive media.
The reason for changing of direction was due to a computer-generated character with the name Goodwill. Goodwill was a confessional chair that had a role in a theatre performance. When testing Goodwill it turned out that nobody thought it was fun to speak with Goodwill, an issue I was asked to correct. When people ask me what I’m doing I tell them that I’m the one who makes people press the key not only once but millions of times just to see what happens. That’s what I did with Goodwill by making the motivating vehicle of narrative to spin.
Without knowing anything about Turing tests or any predecessors to Goodwill, while scripting the AI, I felt that I wanted to be able to communicate with programmers in the same way as I communicated with cinematographers, set designers, sound engineers etc. So accompanied by the narrative I entered the world of computer science to learn how to speak with programmers. There I ended up in no man’s land between art and natural science and where the art considered games not to belong to the ancestors of media whilst natural science did consider narrative as belonging to the ancestors of media. Suddenly my wish to communicate with programmers expanded to be the whole world of scientists that looked upon narrative as an arbitrary activity and where people thought it would be best if I returned to where I came from (unless I didn’t speak about stories in films). That’s when the cognitive revolution in 1956 and Jerome Bruner came to my aid.
Instead of returning to the art I took a master in computer science and committed myself to explain narrative as a cognitive process. I created a method, Narrative bridging, and gave the advice “Don’t show, involve” meaning: let the player participate in the world instead of reading about it. Since narrative is not bound to a specific medium, act, structure or genre, I chose to use the umbrella term: narrative construction, as to refer to the narrative as not media specific. And in order to decrease the escalating numbers of titles related to narrative construction when moving between media, I called myself narrative constructor.
For those who are familiar with the term “director’s cut”, a longer version of the circumstances that made me create this site can be found at the links below. There I share my experiences from moving between entertainment, education and the academics by giving my perspective on narrative as a cognitive process in the creation of meaningful experiences.
Since narrative construction can be used in a positive and negative way I also see it as my responsibility to share ethical and moral views on narrative construction. Therefore I hope this site can serve as a guide to reflect upon one’s own experiences from a daily exposure of narrative constructions in real life (news, politics, etc.).
Questions and thoughts on narrative construction from readers decide the frequency of the posts and if you like to send your thoughts and questions you are welcome to contact me on LinkedIn.
My personal goal with this site is to find someone like myself who wants to see narrative possibilities being taken care of and where I look forward to meeting like-minded individuals.
Until then, take care of yourself.
Links to the director’s cut:
Part 1 In search of the invisible narrative
Part 2 The benefit and disadvantage of unconsciousness
Part 3 When the cognitive vehicle of narrative backfire
Part 4 The need for retrieval of the consciousness