Medlay Hybrid Media Form Concept

Sequences Juxtaposition in Space of Pieces, Spatial Montage

A sequence is the narrative unit of a Medlay artefact.

Multiple sequences spatially juxtaposed in a canvas constitute a whole narration.

Series of Pieces

A sequence constitutes of one1 or more series of pieces2 sequentially juxtaposed in space.

By being arranged in space, different pieces are put into significant relations of proximity with each other and create narrative meanings.

Pace of Space

In a medlay artefact — similarly to what happens in a comic one — space at the level of a sequence indirectly represents time: the development in time of a narration is represented through the configuration of space.

As American cartoonist and comics theorist Scott McCloud theorized by his infinite canvas concept, the pace of the narration of a comic artefact on the Web is not influenced or limited by the page physical boundary3 anymore:

The “infinite” canvas is a challenge to think big; a series of design strategies based on treating the screen as a window rather than a page.The basic premise is that there’s no reason that long-form comics have to be split into pages when moving online. Pages are an option […].

Print cartoonists (myself included) make a constant series of compromises in pacing and design to stuff out stories into pages. We add and subtract panels, restrict size variation, break reading flow, and rarely if ever vary the distance between panels for fear of wasting paper. Without such restrictions, though, every one of those choices can be made exclusively on behalf of the needs of the story.

Scott McCloud, Infinite Canvas

By embracing the concept of the infinite canvas, the narrative pace of a medlay sequence has no space boundaries or restrictions and is free to extend on behalf of the needs of the story.

Viewers as Motors of the Narration

Since a sequence extends in space and not in time, viewers are completely free to interact with and explore it at an order and pace of their own choosing4. In particular, they can:

  • have a glanceable, immediate, synthetic overview of the narrative meaning of a particular sequence, or portion of thereof;
  • have random access to any piece of a sequence and focus their attention on it at any given time, independently of its location.

The above points become extremely important in the light of a narration on the Web, since Web viewers are in an active stance while surfing the net and expect/demand to be the driver of any artefact they interact with5.

In a medlay artefact, it is viewers that actively move the narration forward by exploring the various sequences of pieces and scrolling the canvas: the journey in the space becomes the narration.

  1. A sequence constituting of one piece is possible but has to be considered as an edge case, as a single-panel comic strip.

  2. More on pieces in the previous chapters, Pieces.

  3. Or at least, it should not: in realty comic artefact on the Web are still often shaped into pages.

  4. The watching time of a sequence is not dictated by the unavoidable roll of moving images, as it happens in a movie.

  5. How many time do you impatiently jump from one moment to another of a video clip by interacting with its progress bar? The attention span on the Web behaves differently than on television or printed matter.