Today’s lecture was very useful in regards to the essay prompt my group has chosen for the major assessment — “A K-Film is not very good at making stories with clear direction, what Barthes would describe as ‘work,’ but is ideal for making videos that make visible Barthes’ idea of ‘text.’” I took a lot of notes and I think what I write here I’ll probably revisit later when writing my portion of the essay.
So, the first point that I took down was that work, or art or whatever it is that you create, doesn’t come out of nowhere. As Adrian said, there are always relationships to other things. His example was in new media, in the sense that new websites aren’t just completely new, they always go back to other things and the rise of trends and so on. In a way, everything is kind of open source. Adrian’s argument was that this makes things ‘text’ as Barthes describes. Traditionally, the author is seen as the father or owner of the work, and his (or her, sigh) declared intention is what is considered important. Adrian described this as a romanticised idea of creativity and that it’s the whole point of Barthes’ essay; ‘text’ is not like ‘work.’
However, ‘text’ is not better than ‘work’ nor vice-versa. Rather, they both matter and they are both important today. It is just important to understand the differences and perhaps also that ‘text’ is maybe what we really need right now. Because ‘work’ is about consumption. You do not ‘play’ with ‘work,’ you just consume it straight up. In contrast, ‘text’ is always changing and unfolding and you engage with it directly.
This is where Barthes best connects with Korsakow. Korsakow films have, as Adrian explained, no beginning or end. They are just middle. For a Korsakow film to just be you must engage with it. Otherwise it is not even art at all, it is not giving you anything. You cannot be a passive consumer with a medium like Korsakow. This is almost exactly what Barthes is talking about. Korsakow is ‘text’ at its core. There is never a clear direction with Korsakow and so therefore it can’t be a ‘work.’ Even if the creator has a declared intention, because the media itself is always different, how can that intention always be the same? The consumer decides what the film means because the consumer decides what the film even is.
The best quote form Barthes’ essay to sum up this idea is, “The theory of Text can coincide only with a practice of writing.” ‘Text’ is all about practice, it’s about doing. A Korsakow film requires interactivity. It is, as Korsakow proclaims itself, dynamic storytelling. Adrian said that text links everything wilfully and joyfully, that it embraces its medium. A Korsakow film is a perfect example of that. It makes connections that appear unclear and perhaps sometimes erratic, but it gives the consumer a unique experience of their own design. The consumer and the creator are collaborating without even realising it.