La creatividad es una manera de sobrevivir, según los participantes del debate “Fictional Narrative & the Meaning Factory”
por Marta Bałaga
- Durante la conferencia online organizada por StoryTANK, investigadores y especialistas en desarrollo de historias trataron cómo lo que se cuenta puede conectar con el público
Este artículo está disponible en inglés.
It was all about the function of stories during the “Fictional Narrative & the Meaning Factory” conference, organised by StoryTANK on 28 May in the context of the New European Bauhaus launched by the European Commission. The event, opened by Le Groupe Ouest’s Antoine Le Bos and Xavier Troussard, head of the New European Bauhaus Unit, gathered the likes of Tomas Axelson, of Uppsala University, Samira Bourgeois-Bougrine, who earned her PhD in Ergonomics and Human Factor Engineering, assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Michigan State University Ralf Schmälzle, and Vinca Wiedemann, a script consultant and story supervisor who has collaborated with Lars von Trier.
Schmälzle, who uses neuroimaging in order to study how stories create convergent audience reactions (“which is a slightly more technical term for how stories unite us,” he said), underlined that while action and violence tend to be “powerful attention magnets”, so are engaging personal stories. “When we showed people a manual for a VSR recorder, we did not find such an effect. My theory is that when it happens, it centres around critical topics, such as caring for others,” he said, mentioning the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode Bang! You’re Dead, focusing on a little boy playing with a gun. “The high-suspense scenes, when the boy points the gun at someone, are very effective in terms of uniting the audience.”
Then again, viewers tend to make very creative, metaphorical jumps from a specific scene to their own life, as proven by Tomas Axelson’s findings. Just like a girls’ football team coach who would inspire his nine-year-old players with the help of a monologue from Gladiator. “People use mainstream storytelling, the stories they have around – that’s one conclusion. Even something that could be called a banal movie, like Mamma Mia! [+lee también:
ficha de la película],” he noted, adding that Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s smash Amélie [+lee también:
ficha de la película] was also very present in the research. “One woman admitted to having watched Amélie 50 times; she could dig into her own personal history. It was a multi-layered situation,” he said, referring to what he calls “thick viewing”.
But aside from analysing the present, some wondered about the future, with Samira Bourgeois-Bougrine echoing writer Bruce Sterling’s take on “design fiction”. “For him, and for many other sci-fi creators, it’s about being able to suspend one’s disbelief about a change. Films, or stories, can allay fears about future technology. I am interested in artefacts and how we can develop better ones to improve our environment or health. So how can we create good fiction, one that will help us solve these kinds of problems?” she wondered, mentioning Minority Report and its science advisor, John Underkoffler, who went on to develop many of the technologies portrayed on the screen. “Movies can provide opportunities for a new future. Creativity is a way to survive, especially when everything else fails.”
Then again, as pointed out by Vinca Wiedemann, the impact of storytelling on people’s lives should be discussed in a democratic context. “That’s what propaganda is about – it’s about making people act in a certain way,” she noted. “The interesting thing for me is how storytelling can enable individual citizens to become empowered in a way they believe they should be empowered.” Referring to her personal experiences, she argued that although many storytellers are hesitant to share ideas in advance, it can be beneficial. “Lars von Trier enters one room, tells people about a scene or a situation, and then heads to another, doing the same thing. When you share an idea, the risk is that others will think it’s just bad. But maybe you are your own worst censor and judge?”
With Le Bos pointing out during the Q&A with the audience that the pandemic could be a trigger to reinforce new meaning in stories, the panellists also wondered about the role of comedy, with many turning to uplifting stories in times of crisis. Still, according to Axelson, they also appreciate it if some bitterness comes with it – just like in the Oscar-winning Another Round [+lee también:
ficha de la película]. “It’s joyful, but it also has a darker side. Completely ‘happy’ films do not work – at least according to the audience research.”
(Traducción del inglés)
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