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Towards a narrative theory of Virtual Reality - page 12 / 26

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The narrative theories advanced by the Russian Formalists, the French structuralists

and Heath’s philosophical approach all have their roots in linguistics and the use of

language, and so it seems reasonable to think of them as inclined towards a diegetic

approach. Eichenbaum [21] viewed film shots as linked into phrases and sentences;

Tynianov [21] sought for language structure in cinematic equivalents. For both - and

for the Russian formalist movement - language and the linguistic represented the basis

of cinema and of narrative in general. The Russian formalists however, in their study

of cinema and its narrative components, did not construct any comprehensive model;

neither did they rigorously compare language as a cinematic system [2]. They

advanced considerations such as Fabula: “the set of events tied together which are

communicated to us in the course of the work, what has in effect happened”, and

Sjuzet [22]; “how the reader becomes aware of what happened”,” the order of

appearance (of the events) in the work itself” [22], as of prime importance in the

understanding of narrative. The macro structural approach advanced by Propp [23]

has been applied in AI community as a tangible model for the development of

storytelling systems [12].

Chatman [24] however, suggests that the structure of this model was in fact

determined before the formulation of its rules. He also argues against the narrative

universality of macro structural models. It is not clear for example that Propp’s model

applies to soap operas in the way it does to Russian fairy stories, or indeed that it

would apply to the myths and fairy-stories of non-European cultures such as the

Chinese. The French structuralists later explored the structures of narrative based on a

linguistic approach. Works by Greimas, Todorov and especially Barthes [25, 17, 1]

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