Storyworlds in The Household by the “Blackheart Gang”
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This study explores the digital presence of The Household (http://www.thehousehold.xyz/) –a name given to the collective fantasy artwork with narrative dimensions created by agroup of South African artists who call themselves the “Blackheart Gang”. The Householdis explored as a possible world that overlaps with the real world (drawing on notions ofstoryworlds across media). No academic investigation has been undertaken on thisartwork. The work comprises mainly a web presence that is supplemented by various textsin other media including animations, an illustrated picture book, as well as musicalcompositions. The two artists who form the “Blackheart Gang” conceptualised TheHousehold a rather absurd web-based fantasy realm with “rooms” filled with intrigue andwild characters, such as dodos seeking refuge, moles at war with bears, and a field mousenamed Eddy overseeing much of the bizarre activities in the realm. It is a world poweredby bathwater obtained from drainage pipes in which, the artists propound, “free flowingarchetypal symbols and images manifest in the form of stories”. In the first instance, a reflection on transmedial storytelling provides the narratological lens that guides the study. This is followed by an exploration of The Household as storyworld with reference to salient theoretical constructs pertaining to worldmaking in The Household. An appropriate methodology was developed based on a perusal of the relevant theoretical constructs and applied to an interpretation of the artwork. This model comprised of an investigation into the story system, the cultural systems and technological considerations. The story system in The Household is interpreted in light of narratological time, space, character and event. Then, parallels are drawn between selected socio-political conditions in South Africa, representing cultural systems of The Household that allude to the real world. Some technological considerations are presented as part of the interpretation process. Specific parallels are drawn between issues suggested in the realm of The Household – notions hinging on identity, cultural formation, the role of media and various complex power relations that characterise discursive practices in contemporary South Africa. The study of The Household aims at advancing our understanding of the relationship between narrative digital realms and storyworlds as possible worlds in the context of transmedial narratology. Thus, the study is positioned as interdisciplinary in nature.
- Humanities