In seeking to explain how new media technology impacts on communication, story-telling, traditions, sense of place and identity, Kelly discussed the work of Irish companies such as Havok, whose software was used in war games and film, and BeActive Media, whose programmes exploited social media to capture the audience on every platform. Kelly spoke of how to use new technology could be used to allow the development of narrative structures. He explained that while a game allowed users to impact on a story, linear narratives only allowed users to change their perspective. This would occur while watching a film as the viewer replayed earlier scenes in their head to understand, and afterwards, as they discussed it with their friends, but ultimately the author or director retained control.
Arguing that the same applied to photography, Kelly explained how he instructed his students to “stop taking snaps and start telling stories.” In a discussion of narrative progression ranging from Hogarth’s etchings to Hitchcock thrillers he explored the difference between narrative reality and audience reality. He contrasted the rapid cutting employed by Hollywood film director Michael Bay with the visual fugues of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tartovsky, whose long unedited scenes allowed the audience to interpret what was happening. He urged the audience, “When you create a story or take a series of photos, create something the audience has never seen before. If you do what others have done before, it is boring.” He advocated the inclusion of epiphany moments and stressed the primacy of a good story over technology. Kelly also discussed spatial montage and the value of “juxtaposition to create a vision qualitatively distinguishable from the components.”
Also of particular interest to photographers, he highlighted the photographic montages of Bradford College alumnus David Hockney, whose Joiners showed multiple perspectives in multiple time frames, as well as discussing the use of this technique in film. Kelly demonstrated the power of this method by playing an excerpt of one of his own films recut in this way and noted that he “found it could be a stronger sequence in spatial montage than in linear format.” Again encouraging more challenging work, he also showed a flowchart from an interactive film he had made which demonstrated that running alongside the primary narrative there were subthemes demonstrating that the characters were not all they had seemed.
During the afternoon workshops Kelly offered participants an expert critique of their photographic portfolios.