Three web-based pieces: Time Before Memory (Interactive Fiction 2019), Drift (interactive photo essay, 2020), and my newest piece, Shanidar, Safe Return (Interactive Fiction, 2023). These works are viewable on my website and are now a part of an international collection of web-based works.
The CYLAND Video Archive (since 2008) is one of the first systematized online video art platform of its kind: most of the works gathered here are accessible for view on the internet at the archive website.
The idea to make video art works and films open for the public viewing online comes from the beginning. It was a very progressive thing to demonstrate and promote video art online and to have this exchange between classic and young artists and to make an international networking platform. CYLAND Video Archive is a great information and educational resource. Each year the Cyland Video Archive produces an international competition video art program for the CYFEST media art festival.
One of the tasks of the archive is to build an open and accessible collection, to protect works of art from being locked in private collections, and to prevent their technical basis from becoming outdated. The archive is structured in two parts: videos on the website with open access (artists personal pages), and the offline collection for professionals accessible at the archive office. Currently, the collection comprises over 600 videos from different countries. The collection includes video art, experimental films, computer graphics, 3D animation, stop-motion animation, poetic video, video documentation of art and education projects on cutting-edge technologies.
What is Interactive Fiction? It’s a way to tell a story by having the reader, or visitor to the story site, “play” the story by making choices about what part of the story to go to next – the reader can navigate forwards and backwards throughout the story. There is no directly linear way to experience Interactive Fiction, and much of it has not only text – the story – but also graphics, animation, and sound. It provides a rich, inviting and immersive pathway into narratives.
Shanidar, Safe Return is an interactive story that places a young Neanderthal woman named Haizea in the center of a community’s struggle for survival, as the Cro-Magnins (Homo sapiens) migrate to their once-peaceful territories. Haizea and her band of mixed – Neanderthal and Cro-Magnin – travelers must walk the distance from danger in what is now southern France to safety in their old refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan, a place called Shanidar. They meet a group of Denisovans on the way, and receive guidance from the old H. heidelbergensis shaman, Bihotz.
Cecilia Dougherty on a field trip on February 9, 2023, to the Hall of Human Origins at the American Museum of Natural History with her students enrolled in HMS-340S-01, Who OwnsPrehistory?
This is one my courses at Pratt Institute. A course I designed. My baby. In the course, we non-scientists (we, artists, that is) look at the discourses of science surrounding the never-ending question to figure out what is “human,” who qualifies as “human,” and how many species of bona fide “humans” are there? The discourses are fun and interesting and always spark my imagination like crazy. And going to the American Museum of Natural History with my students was like turning on all the lights. They saw things I hadn’t seen, even after many trips. They pointed out objects, displays, topics that I had always missed or glossed over. Paleolithic music, for example – music, hearing, the development of the ear. Very important topic.
I’m creating a web-based interactive story called Shanidar, a sequel to my 2019 piece, TimeBefore Memory (https://paleolithic.ceciliadougherty.com).Shanidar takes place in Paleolithic times and tells a story of a small band of Neanderthals and Cro Magnons on a migration through France, Italy, the Balkans and southward to what is now Iraqi Kurdistan, to a site called Shanidar, which is the location of the famous Neanderthal “flower burial.”
I started Shanidar, while we were, more or less, in lockdown. And while I had traveled to sites in Spain and France to research Time Before Memory, I had to do a most of my research for Shanidar from my desktop. Unable to travel to Europe to gather source materials and take photographs of paleolithic sites, I decided to draw the background imagery for the story and imagine my fictional characters more clearly as people and less as (pre)historical elements.
Both stories have involved research into human species, climate change, patterns of human migration over thousands of years, and most wonderfully, into Paleolithic art, ritual, and behavior. There’s queer and trans influence in the storyline and characters as well, acknowledging a long history of multiplicities of gender.
Shanidar is speculative fiction, and is not science. It questions and critiques scientific findings and observations, nonetheless. I expect to finish this piece in mid-2022. I’m using Twine game software to create the story and am adding not only original imagery, but also an original soundtrack.
Announcing my new mobile and web-native story game, which I produced in Twine and which has just been launched (Dec 8, 2019) by Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn as the first project in their new web-based artspace, Platform. Thank you, Andrea and Elle!
You can play the game online here. Play the story on your phone, your iPad or tablet, laptop, or computer. It’s Paleolithic!