RENEW 2013

The 5th International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology

Riga / October 8 – 11, 2013

"Archaelogy" Participants


Cinelabyrinth and the Later Work of Radúz Činčera

Session:Media Archeology

Panel:Panel A


Venue:Stockholm School of Economics, room 311

The Czech pioneer of large-scale interactive installations, Radúz Činčera (1923 – 1999), has become reasonably well-known in media art circles as the inventor of Kinoautomat – the cinema constructed for the Expo’67 fair in Montreal which incorporated a fiction film created of multiple narrative pathways in combination with a system of audience voting which enabled genuine choices to be made. However, Činčera’s projects subsequent to 1967 have received little or no discussion, despite the fact that they demonstrate a variety of innovative solutions to the issue of providing non-linear narrative experiences to large groups of audience. Although often exhibiting internationally, the fact is that Činčera was based behind the Iron Curtain and had to work within the limitations it imposed. This paper documents these later projects of Činčera and demonstrates how they influenced numerous subsequent interactive film projects which inevitably benefitted from more sophisticated technologies and a greater audience familiarity with non-linear narrative. It will be revealed how as early as 1971 he had planned to construct a physical labyrinth of screening rooms that would enable each audience member to have individual freedom of choice of story direction – by walking from room to room – rather than relying on a group majority vote. It was not until after the ‘Velvet Revolution’ that the unique Cinelabyrinth was finally constructed (in Japan) in 1990. By particular reference to the work of Činčera three categories of physical spaces will be argued to have been in use for interactive cinematic events: freeform – essentially empty – space; spaces that resemble (or indeed, are) traditional theatrical environments; and traversable custom-built architectural spaces (usually) designed around the underlying narrative structure of the piece being shown. Interestingly, only a few examples can be found of the third category

Chris specialises in the ‘interactive moving image’, as practitioner, educator and researcher. His 2006 PhD ‘Rethinking the Interactive Movie’ developed the concept of ‘movie as interface’. Subsequently he has supervised doctoral students at SMARTlab, the Slade School of Fine Art, and (starting 2013) Liepaja University (Latvia). He has published widely in the field of interactive moving image, including several book chapters, and given numerous conference presentations. He has taught over 120 short workshops in various European universities.

Chris’s interactive film installations and performances have been presented far and wide, from ARTEC95 in Nagoya to Moscow’s ‘Tactile Cinema’ in 2012. His work was included in the landmark 2003 ‘Future Cinema’ exhibition curated by ZKM. In 2008 he exhibited a retrospective of most of his films in a 9-room labyrinth as part of the Prague Triennale.

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