Exploring the Many Worlds of Transmedia

Posts by Dylan

Brains, Baudrillard and Bodily Immersion

Brains, Baudrillard and Bodily Immersion

By on Dec 7, 2013 in Featured |

Floaty philosophy and media forms have certainly not been uncommon bed fellows in human cultural history.  We love to implant our complex musings and conceptualizations of abstract and mysterious human thought into our stories, as it arguably plays a crucial role in helping us to feel immersed and connected with the interactions between people and other such entities in the stories we tell.  Science also has a strong role within storytelling in that it similarly builds narrative worlds we can identify with and feel connected to, but for the longest time scientific thought itself has been unable to touch on these qualities of immersive reality and human empathy within our media forms that make these stories so real to us.  However, the discovery of a new type of neuron in the brain, the mirror neuron, might just carry some implications that will change all that. These mirror neurons were originally discovered by Italian neurophysiologist Giacomo Rizzolatti and his merry crew of science men who had placed electrodes on the ventral premotor cortex of macaque monkeys in order to record and study the firing of neurons that known to have a close connection to hand and mouth actions.  As it was subsequently discovered, the neurons in the brain of a monkey observing another monkey putting food to his mouth would fire identically to the neurons firing in the other monkey’s brains as he performed the actions.  Soon confirmed to function the same for humans as well, these mirror neurons essentially assume the perspective by firing as if the person observing was performing the observed action.  Soon after the discovery of these mirror neurons in the premotor cortex, supplemental research proved their existence in the primary somatosensory cortex as well- a part of the brain closely linked with various kinds of sensation. While these discoveries came bundled with a load of new, potential implications about human thought, it was Vilayanur Ramachandran whose astute reflections and research on this newly discovered neurological phenomenon, which his TED Talk discusses in terms even an undergraduate Anthropology major can understand, carry so much relevance to immersion within fictional narratives.  In his TED talk, Ramachandran’s makes two main points, each corresponding with the mirror neurons in...

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Mickey Mouse and Schizophrenia: Chronically Unstable Setting in Transcendental Fiction

Mickey Mouse and Schizophrenia: Chronically Unstable Setting in Transcendental Fiction

By on Dec 4, 2013 in Featured | 2 comments

Traditionally and by plain definition, transmedia storytelling follows the manifestations of a single narrative in multiple media forms.  This narrative tethers the different elements and pulls them into a composite blob that collectively comprises the world, the universe being built.  This definition is inclusive to many endeavors to tie multiple narratives into a cohesive, immersive story, but it simultaneously pushes more splintered examples of storytelling that spans various media into confused, ambiguous territory.  If a series of short stories that take place in a wide variety of realities and universes is connected by a set of recognizable and familiar characters, is the lack of a cohesive, overarching narrative really such an integral attribute of transmedia fiction that an exclusive line in the sand needs to be drawn here?  While such a question is inherently based in subjective interpretation and can’t be answered definitively outside of conformity to dry, restrictive dictionary definitions, I believe that these fragmented, inconsistently set narrative bundles tethered by a cast of recognizable personalities have a great deal of nuance and richness that can be revealed through analysis as a collective transmedia fiction.  That being said, no stories describe the kind of schizophrenic, protean transmedia experience I’m talking about better than brought to life by Disney- namely those of Mickey Mouse. When the iconic character that would eventually go by Mickey Mouse first made his public debut in Steamboat Willie in 1928, he entered the American imagination as a resident of a very distinct, cartoony world that was flexible, inconsistent, and dynamic from the beginning.  The mice were wearing clothes and operating a steamboat while farm animals remained simple and unintelligent, Mickey’s body could stretch for days, and personification of inanimate objects ran rampant- the physical possibilities of this rubber hose cartoon world seemed limited only by the gags Walt Disney and crew could come up with.  It was, after all, a cartoon- anything that could be drawn fell into the realm of the possible. Mickey quickly taught his viewers that, in order to enter his world, they wouldn’t merely have to suspend their disbelief, but turn it off entirely.  As his quick ascension to nearly world-wide fame and recognition indicated, this was not a difficult...

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