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Turning restrictions into expressive tools through a Zoom Transmedia Class

Specialization Course Transmedia Storytelling – Blog 1
By Arianna Giorgia Bonazzi

During the first seminar of the online Specialization Course Transmedia Storytelling held on Zoom on March 11th and 12th, the team composed by our great teacher Maartje Smits, project manager Anne Lopes Michielsen and writers Joanna Onoszko (Poland), Marija Pavlovic (Serbia), Alexandru Potcoava (Romania) and me, Arianna Giorgia Bonazzi (Italy), explored the potential of different media, platforms and techniques, by sharing hints and inspirations on Padlet, surfing international transmedia projects, and trying to improvise simple performances using Zoom as a tool to create and communicate.

During this intense weekend of online session from our homes, we tried to switch off cameras, in order to avoid the vanity effect, and just listen to our voices, feel closer to each other and focus deeper on what was being told (it worked!). We used the Zoom frames to actively create patterns with props, to “pass” each other objects in choreographies that looked like live comic strips, and to “pour” a cup of tea for the next-window participant, to feel somehow closer.

While exploring different examples of the use of mixed media, we had the chance to travel a bit through Europe, sharing local music, lyrics in dialect, pieces of theatre in different languages, novel plots, webcam views. We didn’t miss the chance to talk also of sound design, gifs, multimedia fairy-tales, videogames, ASMR videos and bad words in broderie.

The ghost of the ongoing pandemic - with its familiar feeling of being isolated and needy - whirled upon our ideas, emotions and artworks: we tried to turn it into an inspiring limitation, rather than to get depressed by it.

While focusing on the best medium to tell a story – and how form and content shape each other – big topics popped out, like migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea, Australian fires, the ethics of non-fiction in storytelling, the issue of politically correctness, the influence of social network on mind and language, teenagers in lockdowns around the world.
We spoke of the relationship between writers and illustrators, of the opportunity to build a fictional museum to expand a non-fictional book and ended up by considering the book itself almost as an “objet-trouvé”… but also as the last physical evidence of a bound between the writers’ and readers’ community.

It was incredibly enriching to hear opinions on the matter of media and content from different artists, through their experience, their cultural background, their very personal views.

On the last lunch-break, we took walks in our neighbourhoods and shared pictures, landscapes, tracks, and tips for future projects in and out CELA. Differently from any other Zoom call, it was a shame to leave the pulsing flow of this meeting! I (almost) didn’t regret the whole tridimensional experience of flying to Wintertuin... But I still look forward to meet everybody in person and keep going with the flow.

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