Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Contextual Studies: Narratives

For Contextual Studies I was given the task of finding and researching a narrative that uses media in an unusual/interesting way to present to the class the following week. After much consideration I settled on the narrative of Year Zero, the concept behind Industrial Rock Band Nine Inch Nails' 5th studio album (of the same name) as it span several different medias that all piece together to form the story that takes place in the year 2022. These medias include music, video, images, text and the use of the Internet including the reader/viewers' own input.

(Trailer promoting Year Zero, 2007, Rob Sheridan)

Above is the trailer promoting the new album but it also introduces two concepts of the world of Year Zero, first the sign that passes by read "I am Trying To Believe" which is a phrase that plays a strong role in both the music and web based parts of the narrative. As the video progresses a ghostly hand is seen protruding from the sky, when the camera turns to it electrical distortion appears to be an effect of the this hand. This hand known as The Presense is a strong element of the Year Zero story most likely relating to the concept of "The Hand Of God".

The story of Year Zero (at realease set in 2007) is that the United States of America has fallen into a shamble of what it was previously with laws being warped and mass use of a new drug used to control the public. For the participants of the story it can experience due to scientists transporting web pages from their time (2022) to ours to prevent their future from happening. As this is a multi media narrative each new media adds a new spin, perspective or part to the story, the idea is that people have to search out different parts beyond the music featured on the album, through Internet searches and finding clues hidden in the lyrics, packaging and then following clues and links from each subsequent web site.

Aside from just veiwing and reading the participant of the narration can take part of the vibe of the Year Zero tale. Another strong theme within the narration is "Art is Resistance" with another release of an album titled "Year Zero: Remixed" (or "Y34rZ3R0R3M1X3D" as it is shown on the packaging) which had all the songs of the previous album remixed by other musicians to create new variations of the originals. It came bundled with the music software Ableton Live 7 (demo) and the mastertracks to "Year Zero" which allowed anyone who bought the album to remix and create music and join the fictional resistence against the United States Goverment of 2022.

(The Cover to Year Zero Remixed, artwork by Rob Sheridan)

The whole Year Zero project was a very interesting way to show a story, becuase of it outstanding effort in creating a new variation on the concept album genre by also giving listeners an "alternative realty video game" to play to find out more about the back story it has won sveral awards. This effort should be noted as one of the most unique ways in presenting a story even though it can be slightly convoluted it is nonetheless an amazing proof of how much one person can care about presenting their narrative to the world.

If you want to find out more about the Year Zero story as there is so much to cover it would take me and age to write about it check out this link here.

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