Vincent Morisset’s BLA BLA is an interactive tale that explores the fundamental principles of human communication. The viewer makes the story possible: without him or her, the characters remain inert, waiting for the next interaction. The spectator clicks, plays and searches through the simple, uncluttered scenes, truly driving the experience.
Each of the six chapters in the story depicts a different aspect of communication: learning a language, making small talk, expressing emotions, etc. Rich in opportunities for discovery, BLA BLA illustrates these concepts through endearing yet perplexing characters. The figures were designed by Caroline Robert using a variety of techniques, both traditional and hi-tech.
“BLA BLA uses xerography, drawing on paper, ActionScript-generated animations, puppet stop-motion combined with real-time 3D mapping, etc.,” Morisset explains. “I am inspired by projects that feel free aesthetically. I wanted BLA BLA to feel hand-made, imperfect, fragile, so we forget about the technology.”
The music as well as the characters’ speech were fragmented into tiny clips and then scored through programming. Composer Philippe Lambert designed a progressive soundscape that uses “controlled randomness.” Morisset relied on the skills of software developer Édouard Lanctôt-Benoît for the programming of BLA BLA.
The work stands apart in its emphasis on achieving an emotional response in the viewer/actor. “I wanted to create moods and generate emotions through an interactive piece,” Morisset says. “It’s quite hard to do dramatic crescendos on a website… I thought it would be an interesting challenge.”
As part of the creative process for BLA BLA, Morisset extensively researched interactive narrative. Seeking a filmmaking language specific to the online realm, he defined a new grammar of non-linear editing. Through the very format of the work, he therefore questions the challenges of communication and of telling a story in which the spectator is a participant: “The project in itself explores the grammar of a new medium,” he says.
BLA BLA thus offers a new vision of communication in the wider sense, of how our natural behaviours and interactions with others play out in the world. “The relation between the user and the film is part of the message,” Morisset explains. “We wrote and created it based on universal stuff: the social nature of humans, our fear of the unknown, the desire for appropriation and freedom, and paradoxically the love of being taken by the hand.”
Morisset has been exploring the narrative potential of interactive art for twelve years now. His pioneering work in the field has included several collaborations with the group Arcade Fire, including “be oNline B”, widely considered the first interactive music video, and MIROIR NOIR, a documentary portrait of the band. With the support of the NFB, he now offers us BLA BLA, a one-of-a-kind experience that further refines his hallmark: re-imagining “once upon a time” for the digital age.
BLA BLA was shown at: Gaité Lyrique (Paris), International Film Festival Rotterdam, Cinekid Medialab (Amsterdam), Museum of Art of the Seoul National University, Japan Media Arts Festival, Mutek (Montreal), Animatricks (Helsinki), MuDA (Zurich), Animasivo (Mexico City), Kosmopolis (Barcelona).
For BLA BLA, an interactive tale that explores various facets of human communication, the viewer is integral to the work. His or her mouse clicks guide this story in six chapters, populated by characters generated a variety of methods, from traditional to high-tech.
While developing BLA BLA, director and creator Vincent Morisset (whose credits include the documentary MIROIR NOIR and the interactive music video for Neon Bible by Arcade Fire) extensively researched interactive narratives, seeking a visual language specific to the online realm. He also worked with talented creative collaborators for this project, including graphic designer Caroline Robert, composer Philippe Lambert and software developer Édouard Lanctôt-Benoît.
BLA BLA stands apart in its emphasis on achieving an emotional response in the viewer and in its grammar of non-linear editing. Through the very format of the work, Morisset addresses the challenges of telling a story with the spectator as participant. With the support of the NFB, he has forged a new vision of communication, of how our natural behaviour and interaction with others play out in the world. BLA BLA is a one-of-a-kind experience that bears his hallmark: re-imagining “once upon a time” for the digital age.
Driven by the viewer’s mouse clicks, BLA BLA is an interactive tale in six chapters populated by endearing characters generated using both traditional and high-tech methods. With the support of the NFB, director and creator Vincent Morisset (whose credits include the documentary MIROIR NOIR and the interactive music video for Neon Bibleby Arcade Fire) takes an innovative approach to narrative, exploring human communication and addressing the challenges of telling a story with the spectator as participant.
An interactive tale by Vincent Morisset that explores a new vision of human communication and reflects on the challenges of storytelling in the digital age.
Production: National Film Board of Canada
Hugues Sweeney (production), Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit(programming), Vincent Morisset (direction), Caroline Robert (visual), Philippe Lambert (sound). © Minelly Kamemura
Vincent Morisset (AATOAA)
Sound, Music and Voice
Programming and Technology
Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit (AATOAA)
Visual Design and Animation
Caroline Robert (AATOAA)
Puppet Armature Design
Additional Prototype Programming
Prototype 3D Modelling and Animation
assisted by Karine Sévigny
Pat Dillon Moore