Marina Zagidullina

Panel 6A: Videogames, Narration, and War
Session 6 – July 3, 15:30 – 17:30

Narration Under Multi-Setting Conditions: Transcoding in Hybrid Media-Forms

The genre (format) of “Black Mirror” is identified in its official site as a “sci-fi anthology series”. The term “anthology” means “a collection of artistic works that have a similar form or subject” (Macmillan Dictionary). In this case, spectators are faced with a challenge of multi-setting reception: they can find in these series no definite worlds with boundaries, rules, times, and locations.
Fictions (stories) are transcoded into films, which share an emotional (depressive) or intellectual (prediction of a dark future) atmosphere. The horizon of spectators’ expectations can be described as “a wish to be astonished” by future developments of current technologies that affect human life. Some episodes of this series have won the prestigious Emmy Awards; among them “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” (2018). In my presentation, I wish to explore the options of narrative transcoding in the “Bandersnatch” film where one can find an explanation of the transcoding process: the main hero translates the sci-fi book into video-game “language” (the film is about a film where a book is transcoded into a video-game). The following aspects are included in the presentation:

  1. the place of the book in the setting of this film (aesthetics of the book-related scenes; biopic of the writer as a part of the film conception);
  2. the transcoding process as a key part of the film (aesthetics of the creative process);
  3. the transcoding between definite and indefinite narratives in an interactive environment (the importance of the users’ will in the conception of a hybrid media product);
  4. analyses of the reviews of “Bandersnatch” which highlight a conflict between the film conception and the users’ horizons of expectations (single-media frames conflicts vs. remediated hybrid-media frames);
  5. the boundaries of “interfaces philosophy” are also analysed.

The narrative in this film has a flexible structure (borrowing the “cut-up technique” used by W.S. Burroughs, the prototype of the author of the “Bandersnatch” book): it is rather like a set of many micro-narratives randomly organized in a “chaosmosis” (Felix Guattari). The leitmotif of “Black Mirror” is “smithereens”: it is a symbol of destruction, little parts of which were previously “the whole”, but it is also a puzzle, which can be solved.


Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at Chelyabinsk State University, Russia. Doctor Thesis: “Classical literature in contemporary mass consciousness”. Monograph entitled: “The Pushkin Myth at the end of the XXth century” (2001); numerous articles on the philosophy of communication and Literary Studies (Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, The International Communication Gazette, Neohelicon, Russian Literature etc.)