Transmedia isn’t about media

Last Monday I was at Transforming Theatre, a long but pleasant day about transmedia in theatre. There is no question transmedia has a lot to offer for theatre. Yet for it to become more than just a buzzword resulting in a facebook campaign with every play, it is essential that theatre producers truly understand where this way of designing comes from. Transmedia for me isn’t like often mentioned about media platforms. It’s about the complete irrelevance in the initial design phase of those platforms. A transmedia production isn’t defined by the media it uses, but by the fact that is was designed starting with the story or experience. From there on the designer looks at what platforms will present this experience in the best way possible.

Designing in a transmedial way isn’t about exceeding the boundaries of a medium by linking other media to it, but rather about transcending the concept of one or multiple media as a starting point altogether.

Like Lucas de Man said in his speech (translated from Dutch): “… we are creators and transmediality is in our blood, to us it’s a way of being, not a goal, not a buzzword but a ‘I wouldn’t know how to do things differently’.” To me and many other designers, it’s not a question of whether we will make something transmedial or not. We use platforms when they are useful to us. We deliver our experience with whatever tools we have at hand. Media are just tools, never a goal, never a way of designing. We just use what is there. Transmedia is nothing more than a word we use to describe this to others. So I urge everyone that was in Leeuwarden last Monday to focus not on the word or the media, but on an experience centred way of designing that uses what is available to us as designers.

If you want to take a look at a project that was produced in such a way, take a look at this project.

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