Digital storytelling is the practice of creating a narrative with digital content by including texts, images, sound, video and/or interactivity. The audio and visual technology provide limitless creative latitude and opportunities to reach a wider audience. The tradition of telling stories is universal across human culture and technology based media simply assists in creating a richer and more dynamic mode of transferring one’s experience to others. We are creatures that not only desire to listen to, but also at least momentarily experience other people’s stories. The psyche is intrigued by and imagines various exciting, pleasurable, and sometimes distressing momentarily experiences that allow us to understand the story of another person. With immersive technology, we can now willfully step into an artificial world created by the storyteller without any spatial barriers.
This year Columbia University’s Digital Storytelling Lab (DSL) introduced twelve digital films to “recognize breakthrough achievements along the wide spectrum of media that rely on digital technologies, including cinema, video, journalism, advertising, marketing, games, art, fiction, virtual reality, and experimental narratives.” I think it is worthwhile for art therapists to check out Columbia’s Digital Dozen for 2015 because many of them explore important social and psychological boundaries and issues that resonate in our practice. Door into the Dark created by May Abdalla and Amy Rose of the UK studio Anagram is particularly interesting as an “immersive documentary” experience.
Another interesting new digital storytelling experiment is Karen by Blast Theory. This is a “life coach” app that profiles you psychologically and then provides you a report at the end. With all the self-help and life coach apps that are currently on the market, someone may easily confuse this one with of those, not realizing it as an artistic experiment. This is a personalized storytelling experience that explores the boundaries of one’s social and psychological space through the interactivity of an app. The data component counters and challenges any notion of privacy and confidentiality that one might expect with a psychotherapist and perhaps highlights the vulnerability of one’s personal space in this digital age.