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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsAudience participation movies are still an ongoing phenomenon. They are no longer thought of as a unique genre, and the needs of the audience are more important than ever. In the past, the audience’s unconscious reactions were crucial contributions to complete a production, but now, if the participation is involuntary, the resultant outcome is uncomfortable rather than enhanced. You can easily watch TV shows and leave online remarks. Collated online remarks reflect prevalent sentiment regarding the storyline, and affects how the following episode. Audience opinions impact all media content, just like how public reactions to political speeches influence a campaign.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 secondsWhile an easy interpretation is that this is a reaction, thinking of the process as having proactive meaning will allow us to reframe audience reactions as participation in the creative process. Our practiced linear, rational reasoning that has been honed since the era of written language and the printed word has instilled in us the mental ability of filling in the blanks when we are faced with isolated, fragmentary shots. The montage, a film editing technique, is an important part of filmmaking that connects footage A to footage B in a way that produces new meaning. Here is a shot of a person’s face. These alternating shots are from a classic experiment; the person’s face, and next, a shot of food.

Skip to 2 minutes and 11 secondsThen the face appears again, followed by a weeping young lady. The first and third photos are actually the same shots. However, viewers reported that the man in the first photo looked hungry, while identifying him in the third photo as appearing sorrowful. The way that this sequence was edited gave new meaning to the images. An expressionless face was used throughout, but it took on different connotations depending on what footage followed the image. The artist created this effect intentionally. Without audience participation, be it active or subconscious, the montage effect would not be possible. This is how powerful and normative the effects of audience reaction have become, and why we have no difficulty in following soap operas.

Skip to 3 minutes and 22 secondsWhen the story stops the next day or week, the audience generates continuity by connecting back to their emotional connection and understanding of the storyline. This possibility is embedded in all media content. When it comes to complex content, the viewer directly participates to make connections and create new meaning between the many fragments in the sequence. Newspaper layouts, total number of webpages on a website, written text in articles. At the same time, you have video clips and numerous hyperlinks popping up. At the click of a button it may turn into an advertorial or an overseas performance. These rapid and drastic changes bombard us daily, but we don’t succumb to it as we have adapted to this rate of change.

Skip to 4 minutes and 37 secondsWe know that it is easy to return to the content despite the plethora of distractions bombarding us. With this opportunity for active participation, consumers have started to give meaning to content, which in turn has begun incorporate and reflect what consumers want. Consequently, media consumers are starting to cast suspicion on the rules and standards that are demanded by experts and specialists, exposing the need to reestablish such standards. Modern art is one area that is undergoing a crisis. The golden ratio has long stood as the absolute benchmark forbeauty and harmony. Now, the rules for achieving this harmony are under scrutiny.

Skip to 5 minutes and 33 secondsQuestions fill the minds of audiences: Is it that really beautiful? Is that really an example of harmony? Is this the right way to do it? Are there norms to accepting this when it goes beyond individual appreciation? Why? Because consumers determine what they consume. Let’s say I go to a contemporary music performance in older times. If I can’t appreciate or understand it, then it is up to me, as the consumer, who has to reflect on my lack of understanding. I may think, “Ah, my music knowledge is weak, and my music appreciation is lacking, so I can’t really get this performance.”

Skip to 6 minutes and 17 secondsYou may have had the same reaction during a visit to an art museum: “Ah, I barely know anything about art, so I can’t really appreciate this work.” This is actually a reason to support the norms and standards that artists want to uphold. Now, consumers can initiate a frank sentiment, such as “I like this”. This value system is becoming more important, and there are commercial and industrial systems in place to support this framework. Regarding past norms, it is a problem that the use of media to complete an output exceeds utilization of artistic skill. What do I mean by this? In the past, a painter capable of depicting something realistically would have been praised as a master of his or her art.

Skip to 7 minutes and 16 secondsPeople would reserve a few hours daily, over the span of several months, to invite the master to their homes so he or she could complete their portraits.This was a pricey indulgence for a mere personal portrait to be hung on their walls. In those times, the portrait symbolized the master’s skill and was a valuable keepsake. Today, the master has been replaced by the digital camera. It’s not just that what used to take three months now takes three seconds; the latter output is much superior in accuracy and clarity when representing its subject. With media’s occupancy in the arts, traditional artisans and artists, and even the value of art itself, are all being questioned.

Skip to 8 minutes and 23 secondsArtistic mastery is worth a brief mention, but nothing more, as far as the consumer is concerned. An instant snapshot is eroding the value of 5, 10 years of an artist’s diligent practice and hard work. We have become a society that places greater value on technology. This is a time of great sorrow for artists. However, in the big picture, these conditions translate into higher quality and a wider variety of content available to the consumer. This is a new paradigm of media content, translating into convergence for both the media creator and consumer.

The new paradigm for arts and creativity

In this video I talk about how, with new opportunities for active participation, consumers have started to give meaning to content, which in turn has begun incorporate and reflect what consumers want. Consequently, media consumers are starting to cast suspicion on the rules and standards that are demanded by experts and specialists, exposing the need to reestablish such standards.

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This video is from the free online course:

Transmedia Storytelling

Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)