Deciding on the winners for this year’s New Media Writing Prize, organised by Bournemouth University, was no easy task for the judging panel – Christine Wilks (last year’s winner), Andy Campbell (Dreaming Methods), Jim Pope and myself. For the main prize we had five very strong, and very different, contenders. Some projects were obviously well-funded and huge in scale, while others were cleverly executed but on a limited budget – so comparing like for like was impossible.
In addition, we had to think about what criteria we were judging on – were we selecting a project which immediately engaged an audience (like Pine Point which was simple to navigate through) or were we rewarding projects which challenged the reader by encouraging them to interact in order to reveal the story (like Loss of Grasp)? Were we selecting a project with immense depth (like the 88 Constellations project which was incredible in its multi-layered content), or should we award one writer’s project which cleverly takes you into a complex domestic narrative (like Alan Bigelow’s)? Or, finally, were we going to award a project which was simply incredible to watch and interact with, like Caitlin’s Fisher’s Circle, with it’s augmented reality memories, beautifully set within an intrinsic theatrical set?
Finally we came to a decision – our winner for the New Media Writing Prize 2011 was Loss of Grasp created by Serge Bouchardon and Vincent Volckaert (France). What we loved about this piece was that the reader had to interact in order to unfold the story, and its ability to give the reader that sense of losing control as events unfold. It was also beautifully executed and the story could either be read in a linear or non-linear way.
For the Student Prize we were all overwhelmed by the quality of the shortlisted entries. Jim Pope, organiser of the New Media Writing Prize, pointed out at the awards ceremony that some of the entrants were only 18 or 19 – so all the shortlisted students should be applauded. In the end we decided that the 5 Haitis project stood some way above the rest. Simon Kerr’s 5 Haitis tells the stories of three different people, living during the Haiti earthquake of 2010. The characters interact with areas in the scene and also with each other and the reader is drawn into their world to witness the impact of the tragic earthquake – the overall experience is very moving.
Ahead of the awards ceremony, Mat Locke (Storythings) chaired a discussion – a panel including Dan Franklin (Random House), JR Carpenter and myself – on the different ways that writers and publishers are approaching digital narrative. We discussed the role of the traditional publishing structure in nurturing writers’ careers, developing innovative digital ideas within a publishing house, and heard JR Carpenter’s fantastically independent approach of simply telling the stories she wants to tell, in exactly the way she wants to tell them – without the need for any publisher.
Our thanks to Bournemouth University for a fantastic event and we hope very much that the prize will continue next year.
Main Prize Winner:
Loss of Grasp created by Serge Bouchardon and Vincent Volckaert (France).
He Said She Said – Alan Bigelow (USA)
Alan Bigelow writes digital stories for the web. These stories are created in Flash and use images, text, audio, video, and other components. These stories are created for viewing on the web, although they can be (and have been) shown as gallery installations. Source: Rhizome
88 Constellations for Wittgenstein David Clark (Nova Scotia)
David Clark is known for his net.art project, A is for Apple, which has played at Sundance, SIGGRAPH, FCMM, Transmediale in Berlin, and the Museum of Moving Images in New York. It won the top prize at the 2003 SXSW in Austin, Texas and the FILE2002 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein is a recent project and described as a net.art piece. Source: NSCAD
Circle Caitlin Fisher (Ontario)
Caitlin Fisher holds a Canada Research Chair in Digital Culture in the Department of Film at York University, Toronto. A co-founder of York’s Future Cinema Lab, and Director of York’s Augmented Reality Lab, her research investigates the future of narrative through explorations of interactive storytelling and interactive cinema in augmented reality environments. Source: TIFF Nexus
Welcome to Pine Point – Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons (Vancouver)
In the words of Douglas Coupland, ‘This is a totally brilliant website. I LOVE IT. It’s so good, so thoughtful, so powerful.”
Welcome to Pine Point is a multimedia portrait of the disappeared Canadian mining settlement of Pine Point by one of its former residents.The town was built in the 1960s, but closed down with the mine when the stocks of zinc and lead ore ran out in the late 1980s: literally torn down and wiped off the map. The documentary made by Michael Simons, who grew up in the vicinity of Pine Point, and Paul Shoebridge about this former town revolves around memories and the objects that keep these alive. Source: idfa doclab
Student Entries Main Winner:
5 Haitis – Simon Kerr (Nottingham)
Student Entries Shortlisted:
Chasing Pandora – Emily Devereux, Allyson Cikor, Trent Redmond, Mathew Vickery (Alberta Canada)
Maybe Make Some Change – Aaaron A. Reed (Santa Cruz California)
Unravelled – Spenser Wain, Zac Urness, Kollin Branicki (Alberta)