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Seven interactive essays on digital nonlinear storytelling
edited by Matt Soar & Monika Gagnon

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Architectural Indetermination

A ‘centre of indeterminationoccurs within all interactive work whenever the user is required to do something to enable the work to continue. That this indeterminancy is fraught is evidenced by much of the work undertaken in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and interaction design which in many ways is about mitigating, or minimising, the indeterminancy present in this zone of indetermination so that what a user needs to do is immediately apparent and transparent. 

However, it is this distance between reception and action as a zone of indetermination that is critical to the presence of voice within database films such as a Korsakow film. For example, where an interface is designed to be highly instrumental – where there may only be one thumbnail link to the next sequence, or the links provided are used merely as navigational aids – there is little affect because this zone of indetermination is highly determined to the extent that there is a constrained and more or less automatic set of actions available to continue. In other words, where these choices are obvious, direct, and literal, affect is correspondingly reduced. (Using these terms we can see that an encyclopedic work, something that I’ve described here as the “Encarta” model, tends towards the perception image as we spend our time noticing all the content that is there, while something like a first person shooter falls toward the action image due its emphasis on the rapidity of reflexive responses, what are tellingly described as ‘twitch games.’)

This is why menus within a computer program are ‘voiceless,’ and why they feel like they are there by design, committee, habit, convention, practicality and the reasonable need to aid in the task at hand which is, generally, to use a program for getting something else done. This is also why thumbnails within a Korsakow film are never merely navigational buttons.
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