Interactive storytelling machine captivates audiences

On display in Melbourne this June as part of the Glen Eira Storytelling Festival, an innovative digital installation turns audiences into artists.

A still from installation 'Dream 2.2' on display at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, 2018.

Making animated videos from crowd-sourced content, The Storytelling Machine is an immersive and interactive digital experience for all ages. 

The machine instantly transforms drawings and text into animated characters that roam the artwork's video worlds in a randomly generated, collective story.

Creators Dr Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer, from RMIT’s Exertion Games Lab, said the project is inspired by how social media has become society’s dominant narrative, saying these platforms often dictate how we write, publish and consume our stories.

“The Storytelling Machine reflects practices used in social media. As soon as you enter your character and text into the machine you relinquish control over them,” said Sargeant.

“Social platforms also have a cultural impact, they dictate how we write, publish and consume our stories and these automated systems often collect our personal data.”

Interactive workshops will be held during the exhibition for participants to learn drawing skills, character illustration, digital animation and digital artwork design as well as creative writing and editing.

Storing all these drawings and text, the work will grow larger and more complex the longer it’s on display, allowing audiences to form social connections whilst creating a large collective story.

Sargeant said the inspiration behind the machine came from her observation of people being more connected online than offline.

It highlights the experience of living in digitally connected, automated cultures where people move between geographic and virtual realities.

The project has been recognised for its innovative design in the digital interface category of 2018 Good Design Awards and as the winner of Best Digital Design at the 2017 Victorian Premier's Design Awards.

It was co-produced by media art and digital design group PluginHUMAN and the ACI Asia Culture Centre (South Korea) and supported by the City of Melbourne, Knowledge Melbourne, Creative Victoria, VicArts and the Copyright Agency, Cultural Fund.

The work is on display to the public at the Glen Eira Art Gallery from 21 June - 8 July, as part of the Glen Eira Storytelling Festival.

Story: Grace Taylor

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