“Finnegans Wake” is the last, most mysterious book by Irish writer James Joyce. Usually described as a novel, it is a fascinating text written primarily in English (more strictly Hiberno-English), but the words are often fused with any of several dozen languages, creating a dreamlike narration. Full of sexual innuendoes, historical, literary, autobiographical allusions and hilarious wordplays, multiple plots of “Finnegans Wake” develop in non-linear ways and can be followed like a maze or a hypertext.
Based on a cyclical vision of history, the book is a textual merry-go-round as well: it begins with mid sentence and ends with another one broken in the middle, which finds its continuation on the first page: the same anew. FIRST WE FEEL THEN WE FALL is a multimedia project based on the same principals.
FIRST WE FEEL THEN WE FALL, by Jakub Wróblewski and Katarzyna Bazarnik, is a project that transfers “Finnegans Wake” – the last novel by James Joyce, to audiovisual language. Its main goal is to show complexity of narration, language and meanings included in this masterpiece. Based on an interdisciplinary analysis, the work translates the text into the cinematic form. Consequently, this multimedia piece goes beyond boundaries of traditional genres. The result of working on film image and sound is a dynamic visual structure, essential for the presentation of complex symbolic, mathematical and linguistic meanings of Joyce’s book. Their interrelations, as well as multifaceted interpretation of notions embedded in particular words have a decisive impact on the final form of the work, especially on image editing and sound design.
An interactive video app in the form of the webpage has been designed in order to enhance an experience of Joycean stream of consciousness and facilitate the users’ immersion in the original narration. Selected passages and specific words, phrases or sentences within them, serve as the basis for video sequences. Shots illustrating a passage are divided into four separate channels. The viewers have the opportunity to choose in real time which channel they would like to watch. Most likely, in consequence of such a structure, is that none of them will ever watch the same set of images. This system is supposed to reflect the tenets of Joyce’s fiction: that the book can be read in different ways while the readers can solve its verbal puzzles, yield to the melodious rhythm or look for hidden meanings. Likewise, the viewers have a chance to experience a dynamic multidimensionality of the text thanks to the fact that different, interchangeable images are connected with the same passage. In this respect the app also alludes to characteristic features of literature, which is an important clue to interpreting “Finnegans Wake”.
Previous cinematic adaptations of “Finnegans Wake” engage in tenets of the original only in a fragmentary and unsatisfactory manner, failing to render complexity of imagery, richness of meanings and dynamics of the narrative. FIRST WE FEEL THEN WE FALL is the first experiment that aspires to meet the challenge in a complete way, fully reflecting the audiovisual qualities of the literary text with the use of up-to-date digital technologies. Its state-of-the-art, interactive and immersive character goes beyond hitherto accepted forms of film adaptations, touching upon the analysis of language, its sound and contexts it creates.
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