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Involuntary narrative

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An involuntary narrative occurs as a personal reading of symbolic content transmitted by media-saturated environments. Exposure to postmodern nonlinear narratives, performative and mediated audiovisual arts, predisposes the individual to originate layers of symbolic meaning that overlap with socially codified environments. The involuntary narrative has neither been constructed by an author of media content, nor read as such by a reader/spectator.

Illusion and displacement are some of the effects resulting in an individual, when connections are drawn between a trigger in one sensory channel and a result in another, virtual and physical states and conditions of one and the same object, media or technology are perceived as a continuum. When a purposeful overlap of the physical and the virtual takes place, it could be called vireal (Gramelsberger, Klein).

The involuntary narrative, hypnagogia and the Dreamachine, trigger what is already in the individual by referring to his or her own past history. The involuntary narrative is accidental and in that differs from both the hypnagogic state and the state induced by the Dreamachine.

Auditive and visual signals, as for example mobile phone ringtones, virtual identity thumbnails, alert sounds, signals and information screens in public transport, adverts displayed in LED screens, constitute stimuli to trigger the occurrence of an involuntary narrative. Anamnesis, as used by Pascal Broccolichi in his work Lexicon: ”when a sound, or a sound context, recalls a situation or an environment that has been taken out of its chronology”.[1]

Historical Influences[edit]

As the density of visible and audible mass communication in the urban environment increased in the 20th century, historical predecessors of involuntary narratives emerged. The attempt to create parallel levels of meaning in the perception of the physically real is an objective these predecessors have in common. Applying the cut-up technique, invented in the 1960s by Bryon Gysin, to text, William Burroughs[2] achieved results of new narratives (whose order/sequence had not been put together willingly) which would often yield surprising results, even giving account of future events that were later verified. The dérive (English: drift) developed in the 1950s by the Situationists is a technique to explore and navigate urban space without preformalized trajectories. Misreadings of common everyday objects, as used in Surrealism and Dada, some of no symbolic content, some of highly symbolic content produce results similar to the ones described here, but are always authored.

Related Subjects[edit]

- Cut-up technique

- Dérive

- Involuntary memory

- Serendipity


  1. A dictionary of “sound phenomena noted in various contexts with acoustic or psychoacoustic connotations”, published in: Palais de Tokyo/Magazine 09, Summer 2009, Spy Numbers, and available online at this address: http://www.pascalbroccolichi.com/index.php?/projets/lexicon/ Archived 2018-08-25 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Burroughs, W. S. (1970). The Electronic Revolution. Ubuweb, 2005 edition. http://www.ubu.com/historical/burroughs/electronic_revolution.pdf (accessed 30-09-2010)

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