In a New World, Agencies Can Make Great Transmedia Art

By mohnikapoor / / Especially when I was in college, I knew a lot of people who referred to themselves as general “artists.” Not “sculptor” or “writer” or “painter” but just “artist,” the kind of rainbow umbrella term that allowed kids to claim that their day spent chain-smoking spliffs was a piece of performance art. Plus, I couldn’t draw or design for shit, and therefore I was terrified by multi-talented people. I was a writer and anyone who didn’t identify themselves with a single discipline was flaky and could go fuck themselves, as far as I was concerned. But now, I’ve started to work for a mass participatory media company and my perspective is changing. It’s a fantastic job. We do really cool content and technology plays to let a brand tell a story to consumers. I run a site, The New York Egotist, focused on that intersection between creativity and technology. I have become a big nerd. I use the word “transmedia” a lot. I write that like it’s been a long time; It hasn’t . A year ago, I was spending most of my time trying to convince girls to get naked while rolling around on the grass reading Tolstoy; I wasn’t thinking about how to crowd-source a novel through an alternate reality game. But that is the sort of thing I think about now. This new digital world comes on you fast. Innovation comes every day; we’ve bred an army of magicians. And the way our culture consumes information, entertainment and narrative has changed. 150 years ago, the only form of public entertainment was literature, theatre and music; the only true form of mass entertainment was literature (Dickens was a rock star!); the mass public had no access to the world’s best musicians. In the 20th century, technology allowed other mediums of narrative—Film and then TV—to evolve. And so people read less. But they still read because there was no other activity like it. But now, the internet is in full bloom and watching Film/TV and reading aren’t separate activities; most of the narratives we consume online involve both reading words and then watching a corresponding video. Why? Because it gives a fuller picture and it’s more enjoyable. It’s a new medium and we f*cking love it. So why don’t we tell artful stories that way? You can’t tell me that Dickens or Fitzgerald or Dostoevsky wouldn’t have been interesting in using transmedia story-telling. (Unless you know something about one of those three authors that I don’t; then it’s cool if you tell me that I’m fucking wrong). And why can’t an agency of young creatives produce a great piece of work through a transmedia for a brand? Brands are interested in driving sales through quality content. Hell, even something as simple as Big Spaceship’s design www.skittles.com is an interesting piece of crowd-sourced pop art. Why can’t we take the next big step; Why can’t a $250k-$1 million transmedia project behind a quality brand produce a piece of work that ends up a tremendous work of storytelling and art—and sell the product as a result? People are finally talking about bringing “value” in advertising, and I want to follow wherever that conversation goes. And I when I get there, I want to use more than words.