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Digital Direction (MA)

Dean de Barros

Dean de Barros is a queer, multilingual storyteller, mixed media artist and director with a penchant for immersive, collaborative narrativisation. They are particularly interested in the ways that synergetic storying can produce empathetic, human connections as a tool for positive social change. Working in traditional narrative media (animations and short films) with an interest in interactive transmedia potentials, they seek to lead their storytelling with scholarship and research in order to produce compelling stories that centre queer and minority voices.

Their recent MA in Digital Direction at the Royal College of Art has led them to explore new modes of enquiry in installation and multi-sensory storytelling, engaging audiences in transmedia landscapes that beckon further exploration and curiosity. Dean frequently collaborates with musicians and other artists to produce these collage possibilities and conducts primary research in the processes of conceptualisation and writing. They graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA in History of Art and are now seeking to continue to push the boundaries of immersive storytelling.

A screenshot of some some abstract visuals in the installation piece.

trans|media|storytelling is an interactive, immersive docufiction that delves into themes of transmedia storytelling, memory, and contemporary fiction, posing the question:

How can queer storying amplify voices of the trans community?

Key words of this research project include autoethnography, transmedia, agential realism and fiction. My intentions were to combine these topics with immersive narrativization to re-engage with the process of conversation, information gathering, collaborative design and queer storying to generate an authentic, trans voice.

Mixed media visuals were produced in Blender, Touch Designer, After Effects, Procreate and Premiere Pro. Materials include traditional illustrations, stop-motion imaginings, LIDAR scans and documentary photography. Using primary source material from six interviewed participants, whom share their experiences of transness and the productivities that helped them in their journeying, connections and self-care, the fictional spaces seek to evoke nostalgia and wonder through science fiction, old game aesthetics and generated relationships between author and audience.

Touch Designer, Muse 2 and projection are deployed to carve out space, reflecting on the presence and/or absence of trans identities in historic collections and mainstream media. The installation loops, continuing to generate its own conversation, all the while inviting the audience to participate within the space by tuning into the transmitted conversations to see more of the piece.

Playing with transmedia possibilities, initial presentation of the research was shared to a live audience on Twitch, as well as in real life.

According to Schoonover and Galt, queer storying aims to redefine different perspectives of the world through the lens of queer experience.[1] Jenkins postulates that transmedia storytelling “represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.”[2] These gestures may include things like fanfiction, playing with action figures, but perhaps also the readoption of real-world themes within fiction also. Brought together however, perhaps the act of growing up genderqueer in our contemporary, westernised environment is defined by this act of transmedia information dissemination – and understanding oneself. This is an idea that I sought to delve into further through the academic lens of Karen Barad’s agential realism.[3]

[1] Schoonover K., Rosalind G. “The worlds of queer cinema: from aesthetics to activism” (2012)

[2] Jenkins, H. (2007) Transmedia Storytelling 101. [accessed 10/11/2022]

[3] Barad, K. (2007) Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham and London: Duke University Press.