Editors’ Choice: Alex McDowell on “World Building” (Media Systems)

By Alex McDowell, Noah Wardrip-Fruin | September 19, 2013

In this video from the Media Systems gathering at UC Santa Cruz, Alex McDowell — one of the most influential designers in the world today — talks about how computational media are transforming storytelling. We are moving from the linear, auteur-oriented storytelling model of the printing press and industrialized film production to a collaborative, non-linear approach he terms world building.

He uses the film Upside Down to demonstrate the process of world building. Beginning from an image, a moment, and creating a world and its interior logic. The terrain, society, politics, culture, history, and geography are all realized. Creating connections to our world, like using rich and poor areas of Montreal as starting points for the up world and down world. Developing new techniques, like those needed for the eyelines of characters situated in spaces where the world is over itself. All of this — from technology development to cultural analysis — as part of a coherent, collaborative process driven by the goals of the artwork.

Watch the video here (duration: 26:31).

Download PDF slides here.