“Interactive Cinema Performances”

There is a new wave of cinema experiences emerging that points to the revival of the cinema event. Contrasting interactive film (which can be experienced by one person and the interaction is limited to a DVD or remote input), these cinema events require audiences to participate in some way in an event environment.

  • Kinoautomat (movie vending-machine), 1967… 2007

This 1967 work by Radúz Çinçera, One Man and His House, is a film that was screened at the Montreal World Fair in a specially-constructed cinema with buttons for the audience. The film continually stops at certain points, two of the actors then come on stage and ask the audience to make their choice of direction.  This is regarded as the first interactive cinema work and is interesting too because the film was specifically designed for this interaction. However, it should be noted that the interaction (like many interactive works for various technical and skills reasons) was only the illusion of interaction. As Media Art Net observes, although a different filmic sequence was shot and screened based on the audience choice. The next choice was always the same. It has recently been revived with an English version being screened in Prague. An interview with Radúz’s daughter, Alena Çinçera , and more pics is here.


Image sourced from Media Art Net. Copyright Radúz Çinçera

Inspired by Kinoautomat, Chris Hales has been creating short ‘interactive cinema performances’. Cause and Effect has been running specially-created short films since 2002 and is currently touring Poland and Finland. There is a video available for download on the site, and here is a basic description from the main page:

We experiment with various techniques of group interaction and the types of interactive film that are commensurate with it. Although using sophisticated methods, the show is designed to be portable, tourable, and suitable for most venues. Currently interaction methods enable audiences to influence films by shouting, passing around bright or coloured lights, using mobile phone handsets, waving, singing soprano and humming. A typical performance consists of around eight short interactive movies (chosen from a substantial repertoire) covering genres of video art, drama, non-fiction, education, and music. The show is both entertaining and intellectual and appeals to a wide audience demographic. It is constantly developing, with varied modes of interaction being explored and new films being regularly created. Certain films are customised for the actual theatre and the language of the country in which the show takes place during a rapid pre-production phase when we arrive at the location. This localisation adds to the audience’s surprise and involvement with the films presented to them.

Image sourced from Cause and Effect

  • Lance Weiler’s “Cinema ARG”, 2006/…

As I’ve mentioned here before, Lance Weiler created a unique theatre experience for the screening of his latest film, Head Trauma. His ‘cinema ARG’ involves special screenings of the film with a band playing the soundtrack live, actors and props from the film in the audience and mobile phone interaction. It has been touring across the USA and is now expanding to the web. His latest description:

This fall the HEAD TRAUMA cinematic gaming continues. Players will interact with the film’s characters; offline, online, and via mobile devices in what is a cross between flash mobs, urban gaming, and ARGs. The game starts in late September with the airing of a special web series. The series will run across a number of outlets such as myspace, xbox, twitter, eyespot, stage 6 and opera. Then on Oct. 20th, live cinema games will play out in 10 cities across the country. Within the series are clues aka rabbit holes that lead to hidden sites, blogs, social networking pages and media. A full list of cities will be released in the coming weeks.

As I’ve mentioned before in my post that includes stats on its success, this example is an interactive cinema advertisement. They actually call the work ‘interactive crowd gaming’ in movie theatres. It was created by SS+K in collaboration with Brand Experience Lab for msnbc.com. Here is a video of one of the cinema events:

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All of these works show without doubt the reinvigoration of the embodied and multi-modal cinema experience. What I find exciting are the fact that many of these works (and more to come I’m sure) are being specially designed. Do you know of some other interactive cinema performances/gaming?

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