A Research Initiative for Creating New Models of Database Narrative and Digital Scholarship

> A Brief History of the Labyrinth Project

The Labyrinth Project is a research initiative on interactive narrative at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Under the direction of cultural theorist Marsha Kinder since 1997, Labyrinth has been working at the pressure point between theory and practice. With media artists Rosemary Comella, Kristy H.A. Kang and Scott Mahoy working as creative directors, Kinder and her collaborators have been producing award-winning multimedia projects that juxtapose fictional and historical story elements in provocative ways. In the process, Labyrinth has invented a new form of digital scholarship combining archival cultural history and artistic practice. Their “database documentaries” animate the archive and make history come alive for a wide range of audiences.

Labyrinth designs their interactive works as transmedia networks—installations, DVD-ROMs, and websites. Their projects appear not only in cyberspace but also in the networked public spaces of museums, science centers, and other public venues.

Labyrinth’s DVD-ROMs have won prestigious prizes—including the New Media Invision Award for Best Overall Design, the Jury Award for New Narrative Forms at the Sundance On-line Film Festival, and a British Academy Award for Best interactive project in the Learning category. Their installations have been exhibited at art, film and new media festivals, museums, and academic conferences worldwide. In 2003 three of their works were included in the seminal Future Cinema show at ZKM (the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany) and continue to travel. In 2007 Adobe chose two works by Labyrinth (Russian Modernism and A Tale of Two MAO Genes) to feature in their promotional video on best uses of their software in higher education.

Labyrinth’s projects all grow out of broad, multi-tiered collaborations with artists, scholars, scientists, students, archivists, museums and cultural institutions. In the process, Labyrinth has developed three signature genres: the digital city symphony that explores urban space through layers of time; the interactive memoir that probes the networked memories and lived experience of complex individuals; and interactive science education that explores the interplay between biology and culture and the respective representation systems of art and science. Several of their works combine these genres.

Although Labyrinth was originally launched at USC’s Annenberg Center for Communication, it is now housed in USC’s celebrated School of Cinematic Arts, where Kinder has been teaching since 1980. After ten years, Labyrinth is still going strong. Their projects have been funded by grants from the Annenberg, Ford, Getty, Haas, Irvine, NEH, Righteous Persons, Rockefeller, and Skirball Foundations.

For further information, contact Marsha Kinder at 213-740-5112 or mkinder@usc.edu or visit our website at <www.thelabyrinthproject.org>.

Download PDF version here.

> Why "Labyrinth"?

“A Labyrinth is a multicursal maze representing alternate paths to the source of being.”

“The name Labyrinth evokes both a visual image and an open-ended story of spatial exploration, precisely what we seek to combine in our database narratives. It is both classical and contemporary and can be found in many different media and cultures worldwide. It has previously been used by many of the artists who have inspired us—Jorge Luis Borges, each of whose stories, particularly in Ficciones and Labyrinths, embodies a brilliant interface design; Octavio Paz, whose Labyrinth of Solitude delineates the dialectics of isolation and social networks; and Pedro Almodóvar, whose hyperplotted interwoven melodramas create a Laberinto de Pasiones.”

- Marsha Kinder

> The Labyrinth Creative Team

Founding Director, Executive Producer & Project Leader:

Marsha Kinder

Creative Directors:

Rosemary Comella
Kristy H.A. Kang
Scott Mahoy

Production Assistants:

Tan Soon Lee Alex
Victor Aurelio Bautista
Daniel Bydlowski
Truong Huy, D. Nguyen
Celeste McWhorter
Goh Pei Ying Pearle
Yu Ran
Go Rin Zhi Renzy
Ami Tripathi

Website Design:

Jessica Irish
Tan Soon Lee Alex

Former Assistants:

Zaia Alexander
Laurel Almerinda
Norman Anderson
Steve Anderson
Ivaylo Anguelov
Gregory Araya
Clark Arnwine
Hema Balasundaram
Aaron Biscombe
James Boyda
Kevin Burke
Nsenga Burton
Gabriel Soto Campa
Christopher Cain
Eric Campdoras
Jenova Chen
Ryan Chen
Jiyeon Cho
Matt Clausen
Jessie Cowell
Ahmed Darwish
Steven Dinehart
Meredith Drake
Robert Drummond
Elizabeth Durst
Kathleen Fitzgerald
Broderick Fox

Christopher J. Gilman
JoAnn Hanley
Ben Hendricks
Teresa Osa Hidalgo
William S. Hughes
Juri Hwang
Yulia Ilchuck
Debra Isaac
Chera Kee
Adam King
Matt Kleckner
Liang-yin Kuo
Dan Leopard
Mayhar
Jay Majer
Ariel McNichol
Victoria Mendoza
Oleg Minin
Katalin Nivelt
Priscilla Ovalle
Hsin-Ping Pan
Veronica Paredes
Doox Park
Kyle Ray
Sergio Ramirez
Kate Revill
Patrick Reynolds

Daniel Rhone
Augie Robles
Rebecca Rolnick
Myrton Running Wolf
Noah Shenker
Lin Shi
Sean Silas
Nicole Starosielski
Raqi Syed
Kevin Tanaka
Sirarat Thawilvejakul-Yoom
Laqurence Tietz
James Tobias
Michele Torre
Tania Trepanier
Alison Trope
Ioana Uricaru
Sean Uyehara
Lena Vassileva
Iana Velez
Cristina Venegas
Karen Voss
Matt Witt
Andrew Wuff
Han Yi
Monique Zavistovsky

 

> Awards and Exhibitions

LABYRINTH PROJECT AWARDS

  • Bleeding Through Layers of Los Angeles: 1920 -1986 Special Award, New Media
    9th International Festival of New Film, Split, Croatia
  • The Dawn At My Back: Memoir of a Black Texas Upbringing Winner, New Forms Jury Award, 2004 Sundance Online Film Festival
  • Immaterial Bodies: A Cultural Anatomy of Early Russian Films Winner, 2001 British Academy Award for Best Interactive Project in the Learning Category.
  • Mysteries and Desire: Searching the Worlds of John Rechy Winner, NewMedia Invision 2000 Gold Award for Overall Design and Creative & Technical excellence
  • 2007 Peter Forgács, our collaborator on The Danube Exodus, received the Erasmus Award

EXHIBITIONS AND FESTIVALS

2009

  • January: “Jewish Homegrown History,” Marsha Kinder gave an invited presentation of work in progress at the Annual Conference of the Council of American Jewish Museums, New York
  • The Danube Exodus, March 15 - August 2, New York Jewish Museum
  • Dawn at My Back, Museum of Art, Seoul National University, July - August, Seoul, Korea
  • Tracing the Decay of Fiction: Encounters with a Film by Pat O’Neill, Bleeding Through: Layers of Los Angeles 1920-1986, Cultivating Pasadena: From Roses to Redevelopment, Visible Evidence Conference, USC School of Cinematic Arts, Aug. 13 – 17, Los Angeles
  • August 2009: LACDA 2009 "DigitalArt.LA" Juried Competition, the following works were selected:
    • Mysteries and Desires
    • Tracing the Decay of Fiction
    • Bleeding Through: Layers of Los Angeles 1920-1986
    • The Dawn at My Back: Memoirs of a Black Texas Upbringing
    • Cultivating Pasadena
    • Three Winters in the Sun: Einstein in California

2008

  • Tracing the Decay of Fiction and Bleeding Through Layers of Los Angeles, October, Middlebury College, Vermont
  • A Tale of Two MAO Genes, National Science Council’s Annual Conference, February, Taipei, Taiwan.
  • Two-week Workshop taught by two members of our Labyrinth team, Rosemary Comella and Kristy H.A. Kang, at the Chenghi University in Taipei, July. This workshop on interactive production was co-sponsored by the National Science Council in Taiwan and the National Chengchi University in Taipei.
  • September: “The Danube Exodus: The Rippling Currents of the River,” The Hague
  • December: “Jewish Homegrown History,” Marsha Kinder gave an invited presentation of work in progress at an NEH-organized panel at the annual conference of the Association of Jewish Studies, Washington DC.

2007

  • The Danube Exodus, The Berlin Jewish Museum
  • A Tale of Two MAO Genes, National Council of Science, October, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Russian Modernism and Its International Dimensions, Russian State University for the Humanities, August, Moscow, Russia
  • February: “A Tale of Two MAO Genes,” a keynote address by Marsha Kinder, National Science Council’s Annual Conference, Taipei, Taiwan.
  • March: Marsha Kinder gave the keynote address, titled “Dramatizing the Archive: Knowledge production, Search Engines and Tropes,” at a conference on “The Future of the Archive, and the Archive of the Future,” at the University of Rochester, New York.
  • April: Labyrinth panel at the Digital Library Federation, Pasadena, California.
  • June-July: “Russian Modernism and Its International Influence,” NEH-sponsored Summer Institute on “Teaching Resources in Russian Visual Culture During the Soviet Era,” New York Public Library, New York City.
  • July: Two-week Workshop taught by two members of our Labyrinth team, Rosemary Comella and Kristy H.A. Kang, at the Chenghi University in Taipei. This workshop on interactive production was co-sponsored by the National Science Council in Taiwan and the National Chengchi University in Taipei.
  • August: Labyrinth’s Database Documentaries, Siggraph, San Diego. September: “Russian Modernism and Its International Influence,” Russian Humanities University (RGGU), Moscow, Russia.
  • September: Lectures on database narrative and demonstrations of Labyrinth Projects at the Communication University of China in Beijing, and at the University of Shanghai.
  • October: Exhibition of Database Documentaries by The Labyrinth Project, in conjunction with two lectures by Marsha Kinder, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

2006

  • The Danube Exodus, Ludwig Mueum of Contemporary Art, Budapest, Hungary
  • The Danube Exodus, Kunstverrein, Summer, Ulm, Germany
  • Bleeding Through Layers of Los Angeles, Mysteries & Desire, July, Australian & New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) , Adelaide, Australia.
  • Four Database Documentaries from The Labyrinth Project [The Danube Exodus, Tracing the Decay of Fiction, Bleeding Through Layers of Los Angeles, Mysteries & Desire: Searching the Worlds of John Rechy, Cultivating Pasadena], Weingart Galleries, Occidental College, March - May
  • A Tale of Two MAO Genes, Chinese Academy of Science, September, Beijing
  • A Tale of Two MAO Genes, National Council of Science, October, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Mysteries & Desire: Searching the Worlds of John Rechy, ONE Museum, October, Los Angeles
  • Bleeding Through Layers of Los Angeles, 4th Seoul International Media Art Bienale, October, Seoul, Korea
  • Bleeding Through Layers of Los Angeles, Tracing the Decay of Fiction, Walker Museum, June, Push Conference on “The Future,” Minneapolis, Minnesota

2005

  • Three Winters in the Sun: Einstein in California, Skirball Cultural Center, September 2004 - May 2005, Los Angeles
  • The Danube Exodus, Kiasma Museum for Contemporary Art, Feb - May, Helsinki, Finland
  • The Danube Exodus, Judah L. Magnes Museum, August - Jan 2006, Berkeley, California
  • The Dawn at My Back, January - June, Roswell Museum and Art Center, NM
  • Tracing the Decay of Fiction, Bleeding Through Layers of Los Angeles, Russian Modernism and Its International Dimensions, Institute for Cultural Research, March - April, Lancaster, England
  • Tracing the Decay of Fiction, Bleeding Through Layers of Los Angeles, Cultivating Pasadena, Mysteries & Desires: Searching the Worlds of John Rechy,
  • The Dawn at My Back: Memoir of a Black Texas Upbringing, The 51st Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, Scripps College, June, Claremont, California

2004

  • Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI
  • 2004 Sundance Online Film Festival, Park City, Utah
  • 17th Stuttgarter Filmwinter, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Transmediale Festival (Image Award Nominee) Berlin, Germany
  • Mapping the Unfindable: The Work of Norman Klein, Beall Center for Art and Technology, UC Irvine, Irvine, CA
  • European Media Arts Festival, Osnabrueck, Austria
  • APPENDIKS VIII: "Empty Cinemas – Open Narratives", Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 9th International Festival of New Film, Split, Croatia
  • Medial Art Festival Friesland, The Netherlands
  • Artonica, Bogota, Colombia
  • Pat O’Neill: Views from Lookout Mountain, Santa Monica Museum of Art Santa Monica, CA.
  • Einstein at the Skirball, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA
  • Cultivating Pasadena: from roses to redevelopment, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, CA
  • FILE Festival, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Three Winters in the Sun: Einstein in California, Skirball Cultural Center, September 2004 - May 2005, Los Angeles

2003

  • Future Cinema Kiasma Museum for Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland InterCommunication Center, Tokyo, Japan
  • New Cities, New Media, USC School of Architecture, Los Angeles, CA
  • 4th Annual Silverlake Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA
  • After the News, Center for Contemporary Culture, Barcelona, Spain
  • Pan African Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA
  • Dallas Video Festival, Dallas, TX • V Salon Internacional de Arte Digital, Havana, Cuba
  • Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria
  • Rotterdam International Film Festival, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • Streaming Cinema 3, Philadelphia, PA
  • 32nd Montreal International Festival of New Cinema & New Media Montreal, Canada
  • Viper Festival, Basel, Switzerland
  • San Francisco International Film Festival, San Francisco, CA
  • Cinemas of the Future, Lille, France

2002

  • The Danube Exodus: The Rippling Currents of the River, The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA
  • Future Cinema Center for Art and Media (ZKM), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (Pordenone Festival), Pordenone, Italy
  • Haus des Dokumentarfilms, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin, Germany

2001

  • Contact Zones: Art of the CD-ROM Nickle Arts Museum, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Art in Motion II, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
  • Viper 21 International Festival for Film, Video and New Media, Basel, Switzerland
  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Park City, Utah

2000

  • Contact Zones: Art of the CD-ROM ISEA, Forum des Images Paris, France
  • European Media Arts Festival Osnabruck, Austria
  • Bellaria Anno Zero Festival, Perugia, Italy
  • 5th International Festival of New Film, Split, Croatia
  • L.A. Freewaves 7th Festival of Experimental Media Arts, Los Angeles
  • Netimage Festival Bologna, Italy
  • Mill Valley Film Festival, Mill Valley, CA
  • Aesthetic Autonomies, Vienna, Austria
  • Electronic Fictions, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA

1999

  • Contact Zones: Art of the CD-ROM:
    • Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
    • Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York
    • Centro de la Imagen Mexico City, Mexico
    • Virginia Film Festival Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Montreal International Festival of New Cinema and New Media Montreal, Canada
  • Interactive Frictions Exhibition, Fisher Gallery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
  • Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (Pordenone Festival), Pordenone, Italy

 

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