Friday, September 21, 2012

The 5D Institute held a design summit this Friday & Saturday at the School of Cinematic Arts at USC.
It was pitched in the following way: "We are a group of world builders - designers, scientists, artists, creators and educators - who like talking about learning about making new stories."

I attended because one of the panelists was Mark Z. Danielewski. I've written a lot over the past few years on MZD's House of Leaves and his work continues to be some of the most interesting codex-based work in the contemporary American scene. I also attended because I'm obsessed with architecture, I'm a Digital Humanities student, and I love design. Unfortunately what I got from the evening can be summed up in the following photo:
A group of undefined people [not undefined in their identities but undefined in their presentation of their exact purpose or contribution relating to the event] sitting in a freezing cold room in front of a screen filled with disjointed, half formed audience questions that the panelists couldn't not easily see and that drew the audience's attention away from the panel and instead to voting for or against questions. This problem didn't necessarily ruin the event, and MZD & Hernan Diaz Alonso contributed some interesting insights, I just wish those insights could have been explored more in depth, and not superficially. It especially drove me nuts to hear panelists and audience members talking about the multi-authored narrative without defining what the fuck that means & multiplicity of voices as if it were a new thing. As if they'd never read nor cared to read Bakhtin. I know that's an unfair, English Lit PhD snob biased opinion for me to have, but this is my blog and I'll have any opinion I want.//I suppose this kind of thing always happens when you have a group of people talking at cross-purposes about a giant, undefined theme like "story" or "narrative" or "city." So I opted not to return to the second night of the conference this evening, though if I had, it would really have only been to see this guy talk about story spaces...
"I'm extremely suspicious of words like 'story' and 'narrative.'"
Interesting bits from the event:

"Architecture could do what people want if people knew what they want." - Hernan Diaz Alonso, architect
"We don't really know what the new narrative is." - MZD [which seemed to be the consensus of the panelists]
My favorite moment was when MZD was talking against books as containers and instead spoke about how books can be uninhabitable. Ghostly. Parts of House of Leaves came rushing back to me in a plesantly unpleasant manner.

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