Impressions from The Pixel Lab 2012

By Michel Reilhac

Sharing is what the Pixel Lab is all about. As the world of hybrid storytelling is shaping itself, the best way to explore the new forms of storytelling is by learning from each others experiences, successes, failures and lessons learnt. But for this process to actually work for everyone it has to be based on generosity and open-mindedness.

The Pixel Lab manages to bring together a group of professionals, all passionate about exploring the frontiers of the art of storytelling in various degrees, and confront them with brilliant experts in their fields who challenge them deeply on their projects and professional practices.

Through the talks, workshops and one-to-one meetings, each participant is given an opportunity to take a very deep look at their project. And that can be very disturbing and even destructive if the spirit in which it is made is not that of a safe environment in which care and respect prevail. The human factor and context at the Pixel Lab are the most delicate and complex achievements and its most effective, unique attraction.

The level of expertise in each field addressed in the talks by guest artists and professionals is also very high. All participants can gain invaluable insight into the methods, concepts, findings, experiences and models that are progressively changing the art of transforming reality through storytelling.

It has been an honor and a privilege for me to be invited as group leader in this unique event since its inception three years ago. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone whose passion aims beyond the established traditional ways of telling stories.

At the Pixel Lab this year, I have learnt several key things. Here are my top 3:

The relevance of scarcity

This was very new this year: how designing scarcity facilitates appropriation on the part of the users and how the scarcity concept triggers a powerful ripple effect. A very interesting strategy indeed. For example, I will be closely following Lance Weiler’s experiment with his Building Storyworlds – 140 Books project. It is relevant to consider how a scarcity approach to storytelling connects with the economic concept of value. In our transmedia case, scarcity is attached to engagement, which is surely the highest transmedia?

The art of simplicity

We should now be able to go beyond the natural fascination phase for a new form of storytelling and let go of the fantasized overwhelming, intricate, impossible to produce transmedia schemes. We can loose the obsession for technological wizardry we associate with the very term transmedia. We can now be more realistic: build simpler and clearer story and experiential designs, making projects that are feasible and sustainable in a budding transmedia economy. Simple is always better.

What is the point?

This has become the motto of the Lab this year and rightfully so. Reminding oneself of the deeper reason why the story needs to be told is a way of never loosing track of the connection with the audience and the community of users. Stories are always the immersed tip of an unconscious iceberg. What we need to understand as we create it is as much as possible of the whole iceberg, not just the visible bit.

And over all, I have felt once again the power that comes from open sharing: ideas, experiences, knowledge, methods and contacts. The beauty of transmedia culture is its openness. It is definitely a state of mind. And I love it! Thank you Pixel Lab!