KineTXT is story-telling and text messaging experiment by Novak and myself as *spark. You could say we’re taking the cinematic form but taking the precisely opposite production process: rather than a singular directors vision, the film is an emergent property of that specific audience, in that mood, in that context, at that time. If you put a question such as ‘what do you want’ up on the wall of a bar, and ten people in that bar have the means to reply, and any one of those replies catches the interest and participation of a further ten people, can you create a chain reaction of participatory entertainment? This area is what KineTXT explores.

At the heart of KineTXT is the act of interpretation, receiving short pieces of text from the audience and transforming them into an ongoing narrative that in turn inspires further input from the audience. As such, KineTXT is both an installation - of text messaging infrastructure, display screens, animation and so on - and act of performance - the live ‘herding’ of text messages into a linear flow, the annotation of that flow with handwritten prose developments and illustrations.

Implementing this creative environment for writers and illustrators, we have had a successful run in 2008: KineTXT was a self-commissioned pilot for the after-dark strand of AV Festival, and was hailed as one of the highlights of the whole festival. From this we were commissioned to realise that pilot for the reopening of the Tyneside Cinema, developing the relationship between the texts and debuting a full-screen interactive for the audience - effectively a mini-KineTXT for them to manipulate from which the results are fed to the main canvas. We ran KineTXT at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts, programmed into the Thinking Digital conference, and at the Designed and Made gallery to help launch their PRISM exhibition. The year was rounded off by being selected for ImageRadio, a festival of new media in public space in Eindhoven, Netherlands. For this we held a performance with local writers and illustrators as part of the opening gala, with the KineTXT system recording its state and then replaying this throughout the festival incorporating further SMS submissions.

In 2009 we developed the storytelling and visual capability of KineTXT a lot further, giving a writer a graphics tablet so handwriting prose could interpret the story a level further (not a new idea - we had tried with fax rolls and markers for the pilot, but it was just too clunky and got lost in making everything else work nicely), and allowing the illustrators to capture and cut-out their illustrations from the artpad and into the kinetxt animation system itself. With calligraphy and photoshop-colourised characters now in the mix, the visual ante was upped considerably. This was all done as prep at the Mapping Festival in Geneva, where we also had the great privilege to run KineTXT as an facade projection in a housing complex laced with radical history, a theme the local artists we worked with readidly took up.

The video below is from the pilot, in March 2008. Mapping Festival have uploaded an edit of the much-developed KineTXT performance also on video: