Korsakow Workshop with Matt Soar

by stronged

Matt Soar recently swung by RMIT to run an introductory workshop for the Korsakow platform he co-runs with creator Florian Thalhofer, support Monika Kin Gagnon, and programmer Dave Reisch.

He first set the field by introducing Korsakow among other non-linear online programs such as scalar, zeega, and popcorn. Describing it as a storytelling tool that creates observational, poetic, emergent, meditative, reflective narratives.

The feedback he received from one user was that Korsakow films (k-films) are too languid, and not propulsive enough. Matt has since accepted this fact and embraced the languid form of K-films. The poetic, nonlinear form invokes a sense of interpretation that draws from the interactant as much as from the filmmaker/author of the K-film.

Matt explained K-films as the “tyranny of linearity.” Similar to Thalhofer’s comment that “linearity is a lie, that we have been using linear narratives to tell stories because there were no other technological ways to do it.” K-Films are not to be confused with a randomized system, but establishing a universe or kaleidoscopic ecology that relies upon “dynamic contingent relationships.”

He brought up the example Adrian used of interactivity occurring outside the digital realm with Phil Hoffman‘s experimental assemblages and 16mm film workshops. The former involved several film canisters displayed on a table, allowing people the option of re-sorting them into a sequence that they found would be interesting (dependent on the painted picture stuck to the exterior of the canister). Hoffman would then take the canisters out into the edit suite and run it through the Steenbeck to splice them together in that particular sequence. The result was apparently quite a poetic piece of cinema. Goes to show that interactivity existed a long time before software and ‘the digital age’.

Matt described the in words as tattoo’s, inscriptions, the unchanging DNA of the SNU. Whereas the out keywords are the triggers to search for similar SNU’s. This reaffirmed my understanding of how each keyword relates. A useful shortcut demonstrated in the workshop was the automatic encoding of both the in and out keywords when the keyword itself is selected in the ‘All Keyword’ browser. Saves having to click on the in and out numerals listed beside each keyword.


Matt took us through his latest K-Film titled  Ceci N’est Pas Embres. He structured it as a hybrid diary film, applying both linear and nonlinear structures to the overall narrative. From the “entry point” of the film the interactant charts a corridor through the cloud of SNU’s available in the first assemblage, before bridging over into the next cloud by what Matt terms a “pinch point” SNU (Adrian calls a “connector”) and therefore the interactant experiences an overall linear structure with variations played out within each cloud. Much like Ryan’s design of a linear structure allowing some deviation I’ve included in an earlier post. I feel as though he is easing his audience into the notion of database narratives with this structure. Or perhaps illustrating the capacity K-Films allow for hybrid storytelling.

The best K-Films have involved an intuitive, iterative process of building upon captured elements. With every new addition to a K-Film new connections are made and a database begins to appear. Matt likened the process to free writingbreaking away from the traditional workflow structures of linear production-assemblies (i.e. development, pre-production, production, post-production) and into an emergent process of creation. Similar to documentary filmmaking, therefore the two are mutually compatible, although the author of a K-Film collaborates with the software to establish the possible narrative connections and the documentarian allows the filming and editing process to uncover a narrative thread.

In this way, Adrian believes that K-Films are “sculptural” and “musical” experiences, allowing the interactant scope to ride the narratives rhythm. And, if like Matt, you establish the connections between each SNU as bouncing from an upbeat to a downbeat within each cloud, the interactant will experience a consistent dramatic shift throughout the K-Films entirety.

NOTE TO SELF: I must do away with aspirations of creating a “message documentary” or other such desires. It is almost impossible to create a didactic nonlinear film.

He shared how he managed to achieve showing multiple previews without a SNU window – by dragging the SNU window off the interfaces grid and therefore manipulating the pacing of the K-Film. Clever.

To speed up the process of importing video clips into Korsakow you can switch off the auto-compression – this will work if your vids are already compatible to the chosen codec (the best being H264 Medium).

Matt spoke to some length about the key differences between he and Thalhofer’s approach to creating K-Films. Thalhofer sees the software allowing a conversation to spark up between the audience and the film. K-Films therefore operate as facilitation devices that instigate questions to be answered by the audience. I completely understand how this works, as soft-assemblages innately rely on the audience to create a narrative sequence and thus formulate meaning to the content.

Another useful tool was how to automate a K-Film through Dreamweaver. After line 33, you type flashvars.kiosk=true; and let the index file run locally through a browser. This small piece of code let’s the K-Film self-select the preview SNU and therefore navigate through the SNU’s itself. Useful for exhibiting work in an exhibition or for it to run as a backdrop to a presentation.


Adrian has posted about the workshop here.


On this page I have sketched out a realisation and an idea for an interface.

I have begun thinking about spatial montages in Korsakow. How to use the interface to exhibit a clear communication. If there are two windows side by side, with each turn of the head the interviewee becomes a new interviewee. Similar to Michael Jacksons Black or White music clip that employs morphing transitions to transition between people’s faces (seen from 5:26 in the clip below).

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/18308251″>Michael Jackson – Black Or White</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/waroi”>Varol Maksutoğlu</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The realisation I have had is about line of flight. How they cannot actually exist without a device/tool actioning it. Whether it is a work of art or piece of literature, or, if you want to get philosophical, your body. There needs to be some device that actions a line of flight. Initiates it’s course.


Close Up (1990)

Hungry Beast vox pops (ABC)

The Rules of the Game (1939) dir. Jean Renoir


From Narrative Games to Playable Stories: Toward a Poetics of Interactive Narrative by Marie-Laure Ryan