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Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathNarration
Anne, Aki and God (Ahtila, Eija-Liisa), 1998Electric Earth (Aitken, Doug), 1999

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The mobile viewer

All of the above artists work with the impression of the unfinished: web-based projects and interactive or multiscreen video installations leave the viewer/user with the feeling of having missed something important that just happened on another screen or in one of the threads of the story that he/she has not been able to follow.[29] At no time does the viewer have the impression of being confronted with a coherent whole, but instead has the feeling of moving within a complex «agencement»[30]—a fabric of interrelationships. The term ‹moving› already underlines the fact that narrative media art assumes a mobile viewer. Video films are shown on multiple screens, which can be viewed from various standpoints (see «Anne, Aki and God,» 1998, by Eija-Liisa Ahtila) or they extend over several rooms, which must be traversed one after the other (see «Electric Earth,» 1999, by Doug Aitken). In these works, just as in web projects and interactive installations, a variety of story directions are offered between which the viewer must ultimately choose. The narrative structure of the media pieces employs the hypertext procedure here: each narrative fragment is


constituted only in relationship to its surroundings. Reception is not linear, but instead corresponds to browsing, aimless surfing through information made up of collections of digital data, a pursuit that is only enjoyable when the user is willing to give up his/her accustomed purposeful reception habits. A story is no longer a representation of the course of real or imagined events, predetermined by the author and merely reconstructed by the reader/viewer; a story is now the momentary manifestation of the narrative route of the user. Browsing through narrative sequences and fragmented information generates a somewhat different ‹story› for each and every user.[31]

Critique of the major narrative blueprints of the modern era

These artists are thus subjecting the modern heritage to a critical interrogation. They choose as their themes the myths and unrealizable utopias that still determine our thinking about reality. They take up the history of subjectivity in order to find a place for the subject and they occupy themselves with the technologies of representation in order to explore

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