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“Transmedia Design. A design-oriented approach to Transmedia Practice.”

Mariana Ciancia, Researcher

My name is Mariana Ciancia and I am a researcher at the Department of Design, Politecnico di Milano. I studied at the Politecnico di Milano, graduating in Communication Design, and obtaining my PhD in Design. I 'm member of Imagis Lab and I have worked here for around 10 years, interrupted only by a short period abroad at the Aalto University Media Lab where I had the opportunity to explore some of the key topics of my research.

Mariana Ciancia

My research interests regard the themes of media convergence, new media and collective and participatory culture with the aim of studying how the paradigms of multi-channel (crossmedia and transmedia) communication are changing the processes of production, distribution and consumption of communication artefacts.
These research interests took on concrete form during my PhD studies, in which I dealt with the theme of transmedia practice, which makes possible to tackle the complexity of the contemporary media scenario and it is conceived as a design practice.

Transmedia is a practice consisting of tacit knowledge, with professionals of great experience who have been and are keeping on operating whithin the fields of TV and media production on the basis of know-how which is non-explicit and which draws on tradition. This is the reason why the process of designing narrative worlds and their distribution on multiple channels has not been codified, but rather follows a learning-by-doing approach: learning through the traditional craft of Renaissance workshops, recovered from the field of design. The assumption from which I set out, and which has guided me during these years, is the following: if the potential of this discipline is to be applied to areas other than the traditional ones of entertainment, it is necessary to develop a model upon a design practice which derives from the professional one. As designers, therefore, our task is to identify tools for interpreting and guidelines for transmedia design.

The concrete result of my research has been to systematise the multiple definitions that exist on the theme of transmedia in order to make an active contribution to ongoing discussions and to offer a tool that may be useful in both the analysis and design of transmedia systems. Indeed, what I have proposed is an analytical and design tool for the discipline that I have termed Transmedia Design.
What, then, is visible on the horizon according to my work is a discipline at the intersection between media studies and design culture which would allow researchers and professionals to analyse, develop and manage multi-channel communication systems based on the construction and handling of narrative worlds. The interpretation of transmedia through the prism of design has enabled me to describe it as a practice that operates as a problem solver and sense maker, mirroring the roles of design.

Over the last year, this has led me to focus my research on two specific threads: that of Interactive Narratives, with the testing of tools capable of supporting the development of self-generating narrative worlds, and therefore sustaining a future expansion in transmedia. The tool of Vidding, in collaboration with a colleague from social sciences who is an expert in the theory of practices, to understand how these created narrative worlds become living material which fans manipulate and remix, contributing directly to the construction of the narratives.

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