a film for computer by Vincent Morisset
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,” Morriset 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,” Morriset 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.
> Short versions here.
Webby Awards - Netart Category
SXSW Interactive Awards Champion 2012 - Art Category
Creative Review Annual 2012
Communication Arts Interactive Annual 2012
Japan Media Arts Festival 2012 Excellent Prize - Art Category
Grafika 2012, Grand prix Site web culturel
Festival du nouveau cinéma 2011, Innovation Award
Boomerang Infopresse 2011, Grand prix Fou mais formidable
> download the images for print here (300 dpi)
> download the web images here (jpg and animated gif for blogs and websites)
Design and development: AATOAA
Production: National Film Board of Canada
Hugues Sweeney (production), Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit(programming), Vincent Morisset (direction), Caroline Robert (visual), Philippe Lambert (sound). © Minelly Kamemura
Direction, Animation and Compositing
Sound, Music and Voice
Programming and Technology
Visual Design and Animation
Puppet Armature Design
Additional Prototype Programming
Prototype 3D Modelling and Animation
assisted by Karine Sévigny
Pat Dillon Moore
Vincent Morisset is a director, programmer, and inventor. He is regarded as a pioneer of interactive music videos and the creator of bicolorama and synchronized artwork. Arcade Fire’s interactive video, be oNline B, received a Gold Pencil from the One Club in New York and was among the Best of the Digital Decade presented at MoMA in January 2011. His interactive videos were screened at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal and the British Film Institute. Since 2004, Vincent has developed six interactive projects for Arcade Fire and directed the documentary MIROIR NOIR. He also designed The Chromatic Variations of Glenn Gould and a web trailer for Peter Greenaway’s Tulse Luper Suitcases and directed projects for Sigur Rós, Émilie Simon, Jean Leloup, and Malajube. His work has been showcased in Wired, Guardian, Creative Review, Rolling Stone, Q Magazine, Interview, Les Inrocks, Creativity and Boards. He is also the founder of AATOAA, an organization specializing in alternative projects.
For more than 12 years, Philippe Lambert has been exploring the outer limits of the human voice. Obsessed by voice as pure sound, he regularly performs in the Montréal experimental scene under the name Monstre (Alien8Recordings). He also has been collaborating with NY percussionist Will Glass(Dirty Projectors) as Monkey King. With his psychedelic rock band Goa, he recorded 3 albums and played multiple festivals in Canada and the US. Lately, he has been composing for Les esprits frappeurs, a project focusing on digital voice and 16 mm film projections with musician Alexandre St-Onge and filmmaker Karl Lemieux (Mamori).
Caroline Robert, originally from Lyon and now living in Montréal, is a graphic designer/illustrator and practices etching. She has worked for Radio-Canada, Toxa/Urbania, TV5, Télé-Québec, Développement et paix, and Dare to Care. Caroline has designed several projects for AATOAA, including interactive videos for Émilie Simon. She is also behind the corporate identity and interactive experiences of The House of Fairy Tales, a team of London contemporary artists who organize events aimed at fostering creativity in children. She has collaborated on several design projects for Arcade Fire, including artwork for the album The Suburbs, the documentary MIROIR NOIR, and the Spike Jonze film Scenes from the Suburbs. Her illustrations for the Corporation de développement économique communautaire won a Lux prize. She is among the six creative talents identified by Creative Review’s Ones to Watch in 2011.
Édouard Lanctôt-Benoit, an aficionado of a new media and digital art, specializes in web and interactive special effects programming. He is rapidly making a name for himself through his architectural projection mapping work and his teams’ triumphs at local and international competitions such as Webjam and the International Multimedia Seminar in China. By the age of 20, he had already worked at Moment Factory, and created special effects for the world tour of DJ Tiësto and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Since joining Vincent Morisset’s team, he has programmed Web projects for Arcade Fire and, more recently, NFB’s BLA BLA.
Hugues Sweeney has a background in philosophy (Dominican College of Philosophy and Theology, Ottawa) and multimedia (UQAM). From 2000 to 2007, he worked as head of Radio-Canada's Bande à part multi-platform project (Web, radio and television) before going on to head programming at Espace Musique from 2007 to 2009. He has since joined the NFB, where his work includes developing interactive productions anchored in the great traditions of animation and documentary.
BLA BLA (195 words)
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.
BLA BLA (129 words)
For BLA BLA, an interactive tale that explores various facets of human communication, the viewer is integral to the work. Mouse clicks guide this story in six chapters, populated by endearing characters generated using a variety of methods, from traditional to high-tech. Made with the support of the NFB, this latest online production by director and creator Vincent Morisset (whose credits include the documentary MIROIR NOIR and the interactive music video for Neon Bible by Arcade Fire) stands apart in its emphasis on achieving an emotional response in the viewer. Through the very format of the work, Morriset also addresses the challenges of telling a story with the spectator as participant. BLA BLA is a one-of-a-kind experience that bears his hallmark: re-imagining “once upon a time” for the digital age.
BLA BLA (76 words)
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 Bible by Arcade Fire) takes an innovative approach to narrative, exploring human communication and addressing the challenges of telling a story with the spectator as participant.
BLA BLA (2 lines)
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.
Pat Dillon Moore