October 12, 2014

"EMPIRE" GOT INTO IDFA DOCLAB! 
Want to help us get there?

Okay, so this is huge: “Empire” is one of the 15 projects selected for the IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling. 
This is one of those cases where being nominated is an honor in itself. Some of the other projects in the line up this year include Miranda July’s "Somebody" app, This American Life’s “Serial” podcast and Kutiman’s sick new Youtube album. It’s humbling, and frankly a little scary.
We really, really want to go to Amsterdam in November to represent the project. We’ve asked every cultural institution we can find in the US and the Netherlands, but so far no one has stepped up to help us out.
Which is where you come in. For a limited time, we’re offering our book “Empire: The Unintended Consequences of Dutch Colonialism” at 25% off. If you buy enough of them, we can make it to IDFA.
Everybody wins here: you get a beautifully-designed book, we get the chance to take our place next to some of the best storytellers working today.
Can’t afford to buy a book? You can still help us out by sharing this post and getting the word out there. Every little bit helps right now.
Can afford to buy a book? Then hop on over to our website and scoop one up for the low, low price of $18.75: http://www.jongsmaoneill.com/empire-store/empire-the-unintended-consequences-of-dutch-colonialism-art-book
Thanks, and stay awesome,
K & E

"EMPIRE" GOT INTO IDFA DOCLAB! 

Want to help us get there?

Okay, so this is huge: “Empire” is one of the 15 projects selected for the IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling

This is one of those cases where being nominated is an honor in itself. Some of the other projects in the line up this year include Miranda July’s "Somebody" app, This American Life’s “Serial” podcast and Kutiman’s sick new Youtube album. It’s humbling, and frankly a little scary.

We really, really want to go to Amsterdam in November to represent the project. We’ve asked every cultural institution we can find in the US and the Netherlands, but so far no one has stepped up to help us out.

Which is where you come in. For a limited time, we’re offering our book “Empire: The Unintended Consequences of Dutch Colonialism” at 25% off. If you buy enough of them, we can make it to IDFA.

Everybody wins here: you get a beautifully-designed book, we get the chance to take our place next to some of the best storytellers working today.

Can’t afford to buy a book? You can still help us out by sharing this post and getting the word out there. Every little bit helps right now.

Can afford to buy a book? Then hop on over to our website and scoop one up for the low, low price of $18.75: http://www.jongsmaoneill.com/empire-store/empire-the-unintended-consequences-of-dutch-colonialism-art-book

Thanks, and stay awesome,

K & E

October 4, 2014
"Every great piece of interactive work is an experiment in empathy."

Kel O’Neill writing about interactive documentary in Indiewire

September 20, 2014

"Parts of the book are linear, and parts are clustered together by topic. Different narrative modes and different kinds of content have distinct visual and material treatment, and individual typographic voices.
Headers and footers on every page give the reader orientation about the place, time and project that every text belongs to. Call-outs in the margins of the text work as exit cues: Further explanations in the form of web links that we asked Eline and Kel to compile specifically for this publication.
We think that this can be one function that a book can fill better today than any other medium: To act as a narrative centerpiece, permanent and with a feeling of immutability in itself, while at the same time pointing outward, referencing and making use of other forms of communication.”

-Atelier Carvalho-Bernau on the Empire book (image via www.carvalho-bernau.com)
Buy the book

"Parts of the book are linear, and parts are clustered together by topic. Different narrative modes and different kinds of content have distinct visual and material treatment, and individual typographic voices.

Headers and footers on every page give the reader orientation about the place, time and project that every text belongs to. Call-outs in the margins of the text work as exit cues: Further explanations in the form of web links that we asked Eline and Kel to compile specifically for this publication.

We think that this can be one function that a book can fill better today than any other medium: To act as a narrative centerpiece, permanent and with a feeling of immutability in itself, while at the same time pointing outward, referencing and making use of other forms of communication.”

-Atelier Carvalho-Bernau on the Empire book (image via www.carvalho-bernau.com)

Buy the book

September 19, 2014
"The works are driven by timelines, geography, and photography, but my hands down favorite, Empire: Cradle, is fueled by a transcendent moral code."

Sarah Salovaara, Filmmaker Magazine 

September 17, 2014
"It was tough at first to live a life entirely on the road, without a home or too many possessions beyond the bare necessities. Now it’s equally tough to adjust to living in one place."

Kel O’Neill, POV Blog

September 15, 2014

BUY THE BOOK

We’ve just published an art book/travelogue about our experience on the road making Empire. Designed by the geniuses at Atelier Carvalho Bernau, this thing is absolutely gorgeous, and includes new writing and behind-the-scenes photography, plus film stills and essays we wrote for Vice and The Creators Project, all wrapped in a really interesting reader interface that ties the writing in the book to the project’s online manifestation…. but if we say too much we might ruin it.

BUY THE BOOK

We’ve just published an art book/travelogue about our experience on the road making Empire. Designed by the geniuses at Atelier Carvalho Bernau, this thing is absolutely gorgeous, and includes new writing and behind-the-scenes photography, plus film stills and essays we wrote for Vice and The Creators Project, all wrapped in a really interesting reader interface that ties the writing in the book to the project’s online manifestation…. but if we say too much we might ruin it.

September 15, 2014

Enormous news: POV has acquired “Empire!”

This is a dream come true for us, and we couldn’t be happier with the new site, which includes adaptations of every one of the “Empire” video installations. 
So open up Chrome (and perhaps a bottle of wine) and go to check it out at http://www.pbs.org/pov/empire/

Enormous news: POV has acquired “Empire!”

This is a dream come true for us, and we couldn’t be happier with the new site, which includes adaptations of every one of the “Empire” video installations. 

So open up Chrome (and perhaps a bottle of wine) and go to check it out at http://www.pbs.org/pov/empire/

March 17, 2014
Our presentation “Empire: Experimental Storytelling Across Platforms” is a Prezi Staff Pick (and the most watched SXSW presentation on their site): http://prezi.com/ehxk964muf1g/empire-sxsw-presentation/

Our presentation “Empire: Experimental Storytelling Across Platforms” is a Prezi Staff Pick (and the most watched SXSW presentation on their site): http://prezi.com/ehxk964muf1g/empire-sxsw-presentation/

March 17, 2014
The Empire Project Reinvents the Concept of Narrative

The following article by Ricardo Almeida, originally titled SXSW: Project Empire e a reinvenção do conceito de narrativa, was published on the Brazilian technology site IDG Now on March 10th, 2014. Thanks to our friends from Brazil for helping out with the translation:

Most of the history of the world, regardless of what we’re examining, is absolutely three-dimensional. While we strive to create timelines in our minds—to establish a beginning, middle and end—the truth of our experience is actually a chaos of colliding perspectives that generate a multiplicity of competing stories with every impact.

The diverse behavior of audiences at SXSW presents a good example: while experts lecture here, individuals in the audience assume different behaviors : some watch quietly, while others take notes; some others write articles, and others just sit back and meditate on their lives. Each audience member is affected in their own, unique way. If you want to tell your a story truthfully, you must take into account this diversity.

Although this is still a concept too complex to be adopted by many brands, one recent project— Empire—has made a vital and valid attempt to address this subjectivity.

The central theme of the project is the impact of Dutch colonization around the world, from the most remote locations such as Sri Lanka, to the city of Amsterdam itself .

But how do you address an issue as broad as the current-day effects of one of the largest global-imperial missions that this planet has ever seen? And how can you transmit your findings in a manner that is adequately all-encompassing to a dispersed, global audience?

The answer the creators found was unusual: the work allows several artistically-rendered narratives that play out simultaneously, effectively bombarding the audience with content, and forcing them to dive deep into the project’s filmic universe .

The “movie” is divided into four layers:

1 ) Art installations
Empire is not traditional cinema. To watch the film in its originally intended form, users have to enter one of the four installations that have been presented at exhibitions around the world (not yet in Brazil, unfortunately). The exhibitions have generally been presented indoors, with monitors everywhere and stories running simultaneously. Interwoven soundtracks from the various countries give viewers a narrative thread to hold onto.

For example, while a resident of Ghana grabs your attention in one video, people from a secluded Brazilian village talk about their day-to-day lives in another. There is a bond between these narratives that comes from a shared Dutch colonial history—and eventually a multifaceted narrative arises and allows the audience to recognize the overlapping habits, customs and beliefs of these people, and to understand more deeply the details and subtleties of colonial legacy. From the point of view of art, few things could be more revolutionary for film.

image

2 ) Online adaptation
The problem with physical exhibitions, however, is that they are physically limited. They require space and require the user to actually attend and walk around in order to take them in. This problem led to the birth of the second layer of the project: the online version, which can be found at www.empireproject.eu. Experiencing the work on a computer, the user can replicate the installations’ feeling of simultaneous narratives through UX design that is absolutely unusual and innovative. It is well worth a browse, if only to experience a site that was explicitly created to tell several stories (that share an original foundation) simultaneously.

3 ) Book
The entire project, from its conception to execution, has also been recorded in a book. The objective of the book is clear: to document the documentary in the most logical, direct way for anyone who wants to understand its legacy in concrete terms. In the words of the directors, the book is the history of the project, and will be available to future generations who want to understand it. It is funny, but a project that is built on so much cutting edge technology uses a good old-fashioned book to secure its immortality.

4 ) Supplementary Materials
Throughout production and distribution of such an innovative project as
Empire, a ton of reports, articles (like this one), photos, and making-of videos were generated.* To the creators, all of this material is also part of the narrative. This is a simple idea, but one that is nevertheless ignored by almost all filmmakers or authors. A whole story can only be told truthfully when you supplement it with all of the aftershocks and impressions that it produces in its viewers. All the chaos caused by the idea of creating a story made up of a mass of simultaneous narratives ends up being part of the overall story of the project, closing a powerful cycle that can help draw new boundaries of storytelling.

And if storytelling is the great theme of SXSW, we in the media would do well to look closely at initiatives that are challenging and beyond the commonplace. Might a model like the one used in
Empire fail in the long run because of its complexity? It could, but one should never forget that innovation is generated from a plurality of trial and error—and just knowing that is a big step .

So what should we do now? Open another browser window and soak in the world of
www.empireproject.eu

Have a good trip!

 *One very minor quibble here: the supplementary materials we were referring to in our presentation primarily consisted of Empire-related pieces that we’ve made throughout production and sold to third parties, including this article for Vice, this series for The Creators Project, and this short for De Correspondent. That said, we applaud the author’s understanding of a project that has a lot of moving parts and can be hard to boil down (even for us).

March 13, 2014

Empire: Experimental Storytelling Across Platforms

For all of you who missed us at SXSW Digital Domain, here’s our presentation in all its glory.

Direct Prezi link.

March 11, 2014

Eline is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s Women of SXSW!

“Why make an experimental documentary and not a feature film?” The answer to that would be that the structure of the project arose organically to match the sprawling nature of the subject matter. It’s not just the time of movies right now, since we have long form TV and online video, and all kinds of new forms coming up. Because it is distributed across so many platforms, Empire is very much of this time.
http://filmmakermagazine.com/84851-the-women-of-sxsw-empire-director-eline-jongsma/
Photo by Kramer O’Neill

Eline is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s Women of SXSW!

“Why make an experimental documentary and not a feature film?” 
The answer to that would be that the structure of the project arose organically to match the sprawling nature of the subject matter. It’s not just the time of movies right now, since we h
ave long form TV and online video, and all kinds of new forms coming up. Because it is distributed across so many platforms, Empire is very much of this time.

http://filmmakermagazine.com/84851-the-women-of-sxsw-empire-director-eline-jongsma/

Photo by Kramer O’Neill

March 9, 2014

EMPIRE AT SXSW

Tomorrow, 11 AM, Austin Convention Center. New work will be revealed!

EMPIRE AT SXSW

Tomorrow, 11 AM, Austin Convention Center. New work will be revealed!

March 5, 2014
Empire directors Kel O’Neill & Eline Jongsma
20x24 Polaroid by Myrna Suarez for The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Empire directors Kel O’Neill & Eline Jongsma

20x24 Polaroid by Myrna Suarez for The Film Society of Lincoln Center

February 27, 2014
Mars Simulation, Southern Utah by Kel O’Neill & Eline Jongsma
Go to our new website to see more of what we’re working on when we’re not working on Empire.

Mars Simulation, Southern Utah by Kel O’Neill & Eline Jongsma

Go to our new website to see more of what we’re working on when we’re not working on Empire.

February 23, 2014

Empire unbound

We opened our email today to find these images of the first test print of the upcoming Empire book.

Made in collaboration with the brilliant designers at Atelier Carvalho Bernau, the book is a layered exploration of the project that combines travel writing and behind-the-scenes photography with historical essays and images from the Empire installations. Follow us here and on facebook to find out when it will be available (hint, summer 2014).

Thanks to our supporters at the Creative Industries Fund NL for helping to make this happen.

Liked posts on Tumblr: More liked posts »