ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Interactive film and the multiplied self

By Roman Danylak, Ernest Edmonds
SPECIAL ISSUE: Media Arts, [Vol. 6, No. 3]

DOI: 10.1145/1394021.1394030

Interactive film, delivered by computational processes, collapses the self; the singular, personal identity to which we have become accustomed is challenged by the adoption of many selves, transforming our primary experience of identity. The new medium presents us with narrative multiplicity, so that we are no longer just “John Smith,” our namesake. The combination of separate, unique, historically-evolved representational techniques, defined as counterfeit, production, and simulation, makes the creation of a multiplied self possible in a digitized environment. This paper will focus on Spielberg's film Catch Me if You Can, whose narrative describes the actions of its game-playing protagonist, Frank Abagnale Jr., who exemplifies the emerging digital man. He creates many personas in a predigital world by means of the three techniques of representation. His “art” is shown to be a precursor of interactive film, turning the world into a game of interchangeable multiple personalities. Manipulating and adopting screen media communication artefacts, Frank Abagnale Jr. creates an analogue of human-computer multimedia interaction. A comparison of similar innovations and their effects in earlier historical periods of media is also included.

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