Mika Tuomola, new media script writer/director
Narrativity and Interactivity Studio, Interactive Institute of Sweden
Malmö University College, Sweden
Everyday Objects and Commedia dell'Arte in Designing Dramatic Action for Avatar Worlds
The presentation introduces how Commedia dell'Arte - a five hundred years
old improvisational form of street theatre, the origins of which date back
to primitive cultures - has been used as a design metaphor in a joint
university and corporate project as creating a world script and narrative
methods for the European culture based avatar world. The world writing
process has taken place in Coronet Interactive Ltd. and in Medialab of
Helsinki University of Art and Design in January-May 1999. The avatar
world has been designed for Fujitsu's WorldsAway technology that produces
worlds with "two and half dimension," as do the Commedia dell'Arte stages.
Further, Commedia dell'Arte (CdA) was chosen as a design metaphor for the
1. CdA is theatre in open interaction with its environment. It doesn't
try to regulate the environment from above, but rather develops according
to its audience, like do the virtual communities. The movement is from
bottom to top: everyday human life and absurd accidents stand in the
beginning rather than ceremonies given from above.
2. CdA shows that there can exist drama without the domination of
prewritten text. CdA has developed an alternative of its own that uses
well functional elements many times (chiusetti) and poorly functional
elements only by accident. The dramatic method may be used in creating
dramatic virtual communities that develop their text in real time as well.
3. CdA's history reminds us that a form of representation that does not
maintain a living relationship with the surrounding reality will die, like
will virtual communities of such nature.
"The primitive notion, usually developed among normative circles, of some
linear development forward will be done away with. It will be found out
that any truly relevant step forward is always accompanied with returning
to primeval beginning, or more correctly, with renewal of the beginning.
It is possible to move forward only by recollection, not by oblivion."
(Mihail Baktin, 1979)
Mika Tuomola is a new media script writer/director, also a frequently
requested consult, lecturer and writer on the field. Among his most
recognised works are the award winning web drama "Daisy's Amazing
Discoveries" (Coronet Interactive Ltd. 1996, http://www.coronet.fi/daisy/)
and the philosophical strategy game "Socrates" (Werner Söderström
Publishing Ltd. 1998) that won the prestigious EuroPrix'98 award for Best
European Educational Multimedia Product. With a background in theatre,
nearly all Mika's work is based on theatrical methodologies moved to the
context of new media. Currently, he's working as the Creative Director of
the Narrativity and Interactivity Studio of the Interactive Institute of
In 1998, Mika completed his research "Commedia dell'Arte as a Design
Metaphor for Multiuser Virtual Worlds" ordered by ICL-Fujitsu. The
research has set up a design methodology for the avatar world production
under planning in the new media production company Coronet Interactive
Ltd. During 1998, Mika was also chosen Finland's Young Artist of the Year
by Finland Festivals, and his article series on "Daisy" and the dramaturgy
of virtual spaces was published in Digital Creativity (Issues 2 & 3 of
Volume 9, Swets & Zeitlinger Publishing Ltd.).
The Commedia dell'Arte approach has proved practically successful in
Mika's "Virtual community action design" workshop held in Malmö University
Department of Art and Communication in October 1998. Further, the
research results presented by invitation have excited practioners and
academics both in the First Scandinavian PhD Winter School for New Media
held in Malmö 22.-27.11.1998, as well as in the InterMedia foundation of
Denmark in Aarhus 9.11.1998. Mika has also lectured about the subject in
Finland for the University of Art and Design Medialab, as well as to the
Avatars'98 conference in Kiasma, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the
League of Museums.