Project Overview

ARC Investigators: Dennis Del Favero, Ross Gibson, Ian Howard, Jeffrey Shaw
Programmers: Matthew McGinity, Keir Smith, Joachim Tesch, Teewon Tan, Craig Jin, Andre Van Schaik, Dennis Lin, Alan Kan
Project Funding: ARC DP0209550

  1. 2004-06
  2. Distributed Multi-User Virtual Environment

Conversations is an experimental Distributed Multi-User Virtual Environment forming the central focus of an Australian Research Council funded study investigating the reformulation of narrative within digital cinema. It offers viewers an immersive multi-modal interactive narrative experience dealing with the events leading up to the escape, recapture, trial and hanging of Ronald Ryan at Pentridge Prison, Melbourne in 1967, the last person publicly executed in Australia. It allows viewers “to inhabit the landscape of the escape, to experience the confusion of the crime scene first hand; then it enables us to encounter the key protagonists of the subsequent trial. Instead of being presented with ‘facts’, viewers are asked to negotiate the historical landscape themselves, to draw conclusions from their encounter with both the scene of the disputed events and the opinions of the characters who dominated their aftermath”.* It has been developed in the form of two demonstrators. The first for the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney where it was premiered in November 2004 and the second at iCinema’s Scientia Laboratory where it is available for presentation as part of a portfolio of experimental works. The project has been developed in collaboration with the University of Technology, Sydney, the University of Sydney and the ZKM Centre for Art and Media, Germany.

Conversations 3D axonometric view

Conversations video documentation


The rise of digital media has led to a decline in the use of traditional single-layered narrative and the corresponding loss of a major instrument of cinematic representation. This study investigates the reformulation of narrative within digital cinema through the integration of three models of interactivity so as to produce a new emergent digital narrative form. The study tests the proposition predicted in the cinematic theory of Gilles Deleuze and the systems theory of Manuel DeLanda that narrative, when generated as a complex of digitally interactive forms, provides the opportunity to recapture the significance of narrative within digital cinema, through its enactment within a multi-layered, emergent virtual space.


  • Effect the synthesis of three prior experimental interactive narrative models: the multi-branched, the navigable and the algorithmic
  • Demonstrate the expressive structure of a digital narrative as reformulated within the synthesis of the three prior models through its experimental application in the Distributed Multi-User Virtual Environment entitled Conversations.
  • Test through critical interpretation the representational character of these new forms of narrative emergent within a distributed multi-user virtual environment as a type of social dialogue emergent within a digital space.
  • McQuire, S. and Papastergiadis, N. (2006). Conversations: The Parallax Effect. iCinema: Sydney.


  • Scientia, UNSW, Sydney, 2006
  • Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 2004/05