|Note: If you see this text you use a browser which does not support usual Web-standards. Therefore the design of Media Art Net will not display correctly. Contents are nevertheless provided. For greatest possible comfort and full functionality you should use one of the recommended browsers.|
since the late eighteenth century, the ground has been prepared for what has come to constitute the heterogeneity of today's forms of narration and their expression in electronic media.
The vital historical and theoretical background, without which the narrative strategies prevalent in current media cannot be properly understood, can be found in the crisis of storytelling around 1900. This was expressed above all in the crisis of the novel and was related to fundamental doubt about whether it was possible to represent the complex reality of modern society with the help of linear, causally motivated stories. The repercussions of this development can still be felt today, and are often cited in web works, interactive installations and the cinematic/narrative video art of the 1990s, holding sway not only over form but also exercising an impact on content. In «Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften « («The Man Without Qualities,» 1930), Robert Musil writes: «It's a lucky man who can say ‹while,› ‹before› and ‹afterward› …. And now Ulrich noticed that he had lost touch with this primitive epicness, to which private life still clings, even though
in public everything had become non-narrative and no longer followed a thread, but instead spread out to form an endless interwoven surface.»
Early Modern authors did not criticize traditional storytelling in general, but rather directed their misgivings at a poetics of naturalism and the deterministic worldview it implies, one defined by scientific procedures followed by natural scientists. They pulled back the curtain on the principle of cause and effect and on chronological sequences of events that develop causally, revealing them as reflections of scientific methodology. Their criticism centered on Emil Zola's manifesto «Le roman expérimental» (1879), in which he called for a «genuinely realistic poetics.» As means of exercising this critique, modern art at the beginning of the twentieth century developed certain elements designed to counteract this predominant, natural scientific model for explaining the world. Some of these elements have now become relevant once again in the narrative forms used in various