A Look At Dreaming Methods

Dreaming MethodsDreaming Methods is ambitious. It’s digital fiction, but not in a way you’d expect: instead of blogs or static text pages the stories in Methods are presented in Flash.

This choice in medium in intentional: the stories Methods produce are rich in sound and movement and colour. In Last Dream, a grandson narrates (in words) his blind grandfather’s final dream. The camera shakes as it introduces you to the story, and the first frame you pause on is that of an old house. The screen is black and white, with dashes of green from the shrubbery in the foreground.

The door is locked. Clicking it produces a thudding sound, barring you from entry. And your throat catches as you realize something about these stories.

They are interactive. You click on a rock and drag it around the screen, throwing it here, throwing it there. And soon you find the key to the door, and it grants you entry.

Rich in visual delights (the walls of the house are translucent, showing stalks of tall corn as you pan over them), the words and story in Last Dream are more of poetry than prose. They appear, you read, and then they fade away. And they don’t come back. If you missed a word it’s back to the start you go, for these things play like life, rather than literature. No rewind. No turn the page back.

Alan Campbell is the guy behind Methods, and he’s has been experimenting with writing fiction for the computer screen since the 1990’s. Many of his projects are collaborations with artists from other mediums – if he took those photos of the house used in Last Dream I’d consider worshiping him.

Parts of Methods‘s stories are in video, like in Clearance, where he worked with filmmaker Judi Alston to tell an apocalyptic story in digital form (so says this post). This form of online fiction cannot be done by a one man crew, unless that one man is willing to learn photography and writing and film-making and flash programming all at the same time.
Methods‘s fiction can’t be categorized. It’s film, but with gameplay. Prose, but with sound. Animation, but with photographs. A highly experimental medium with feedback forms at the end of every story.

What is it, exactly? I can’t say. But I’d like to think it’s a taste of the future.

PS: Special thanks to Lee of Lowebrow for the links.

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Category: Publishing · Writing Web Fiction