IM Issue 2, 2006 Editorial

Inside/Outside

Welcome to the second issue of IM: Interactive Media. After the first edition’s tentative and exploratory steps towards interactive content, IM2 is proud to announce that all of the peer-reviewed articles for this edition contain downloadable and playable audio-visual content. This is an important feature underpinning the philosophy of IM as an online journal, namely facilitating practitioner-theorists with a forum and opportunity to present their research using their media of choice alongside conventional prose scholarship. These include virtual fly-thoughs of exhibition spaces and curatorial architecture, indicative clips and representative close analysis sequences from anime, television series, documentaries and short narrative drama, as well as excerpts from feature scripts.

Significantly for IM2, all five contributors have embraced the issue theme of INSIDE/OUTSIDE. Meg Rickards’ reflects on her own craft of scriptwriting in order to evoke the frisson of dream, fantasy and the doppelgänger. Drawing from the works of Nöel Carroll, Rosemary Jackson, Edward Branigan and Cherry Potter the author analyses anime director Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue (1999) in order to inform her own script development and eschew the clichéd tropes of screen depictions of the fantastic. Rickards concentrates on the dynamic of how to best render the internal emotional and psychological aspects of a character’s life viewed from the exigencies of the external world.

The internal dimension of the spectator/participant also informs Ross Gibson’s meditation on the immersive practice of digital art installation from an audiovisual and ‘extra-cinematic’ perspective. Gibson considers his own creative praxis (Street X-Rays project) via Paul Ciliers’ articulation of postmodern ‘open/complex systems’. In the process Gibson provides a ‘couple of stories’ as metatexts concerning a 17th century Peruvian mariner and Henry Thoreau’s Walden woods in order to situate the dynamic function and blurring of immersion and critical distance.

Rachel Wilson’s approach to the dichotomy of Inside/Outside explores her Master of Arts production-led research, Memory Cages — a ‘personal art film’ investigating women’s autobiography, memory and trauma. While referencing Janet Walker and Susannah Redstone’s memory work, Wilson explicitly applies the experimental practice of Michael Snow, Jonas Mekas and Stan Brakhage in her ‘external’ and public exposition of childhood trauma and its corresponding emotional fragmentation. As such she give witness to the frequently invisible ‘internal’ memory and compartmentalisation facing the victims/survivors of such crises.

It is the macrocosmic world that concerns filmmaker-historian Paul Roberts. By critically reflecting on his 25 year-plus oeuvre (chiefly occupied with documenting underclasses and Indigenous Australians) Roberts critiques the (un)official gatekeeping of institutions such as national public broadcasters and federal/state film funding agencies, commissioning editors and career arts bureaucrats. He demonstrates the historical emergence, and consolidation of, market-led programming that reflects neoliberal ‘corporatism’ and ‘functionalism’, all diametrically opposed to the charters, mission statements and legislation enabling such institutions. Drawing from Edward Said and John Ralston Saul’s tropes of ‘outsiderhood and otherness’, Roberts polemically suggests that now ‘Australian documentary makers are exiles in their own country’.

Walter Metz identifies pedagogically how his Master of Fine Arts curriculum attempts to bridge the seemingly irreconcilable ‘two cultures’ of science and the humanities by deliberately undermining the arbitrary binarism such oppositions promote. Metz uses critical theory and discourse analysis (Jacques Derrida, Carol Cohn) and applies it to US ‘natural history’ and ‘science’ documentary television programs, such as those from the ‘blue chip’ Discovery Channel. The methodology reveals a troublesome rhetorical disposition across multiple programs that not only anthropomorphises ‘nature’ but inscribes retrospectively (post)Cold War paradigms to narratively explain, and digitally render via CGI, motivations for reptilian and animal behaviour, from dinosaurs to lions.

Finally, our thanks to all the contributors and peer reviewers for their patience and good will during the past ten months. And we encourage readers to consider contributing to IM3 and future issues (simply follow the ‘Contribute’ link in page header, above).

Mick Broderick
for the Editors