The Fragmented Digital Gaze: Effects of Multimodal Composition on Narrative Perspective

MIX Digital
Bath Spa University
July 2013

Click image for PDF of presentation.

Later published as journal article: Skains, R. Lyle. 2016. “The Fragmented Digital Gaze: The Effects of Multimodal Composition on Narrative Perspective.” Qualitative Inquiry, Special Issue: Hypermodal Inquiry 22 (3): 183–90.


Emerging technologies have historically had various impacts on narrative fiction, from the emergence of mimetic narratives in novel form, to the camera’s influence on techniques such as flashback, and character gaze and perspective. These technologies can be seen to engage in an authorial partnership with the composer, “collaborating to create new media” (Weight 2006, 415), new narrative forms and practices. The specific affordances of digital media introduce multimodality, polylinearity, and reader/player interaction to fiction; the practice of composing such multimodal works affects narrative perspective, leading to fragmented and layered narration, metalepsis, and “unnatural narrators” (Richardson 2006). This paper presents research based in the practice of creating a multimodal project, Færwhile (in preparation), examining the progression of narrative perspective from mimetic to unnatural, analysing the various narrative perspectives. While Richardson (2006) argues that the postmodern narrative perspective (utilizing contradictory, permeable, and dis-framed narrators) leads to “postmodern unreliability”, this examination of the Færwhile multimodal narrative will argue that a cohesive voice and its communicated metaphor can be created from the layering of disparate narrative perspectives.

Cite as: Skains, R. Lyle. 2013. “The Fragmented Digital Gaze: Effects of Multimodal Composition on Narrative Perspective.” In MIX Digital, Bath Spa University, 16-18 July 2013. Corsham, UK.

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