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BARTHES ON AUTHORSHIP:
Barthes challenges the idea that a text can be assigned to any single author. From his essay "Death of the Author" he says: "it is language which speaks, not the author". The words and language of a text define the meaning for Barthes. He feels that every line of text has been referenced from somewhere else: "the text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture"; so is therefore never an original piece of work. With this, the author is non existent as the idea of one authorial voice, one ultimate and universal meaning, are destroyed. The explanation and meaning of a piece of work doesn't have to be found in the one who created it, "as if it were always in the end, through the more or less transparent allegory of the fictioni, the voice of a single person, the author 'confiding' in us". The personality of the author can be overlooked when interpreting text, because the words are good enough with a good use of language. To Barthes, exposing meanings in a written work without adressing the personal tastes of the author (in all aspects, such as the authors passions etc) is to allow language to speak, rather than the author.
Michel Foucault in his essay "What is an author?", suggests that all authors are writers, but not all writers are authors. He declares that "a private letter may have a signatory—it does not have an author". For a reader to appoint the author to any piece of written work is for the text to reach certain standards, for Foucault, this is working in combination with the idea of "the author function". Foucault's author function is the idea that an author exists only as a function of written work, a part of its structure, but not necessarily part of the interpretive process. The author's name "indicates the status of the discourse within a society and culture", and at one time was used as the basis for interpreting a piece of text.
THE ROLE OF THE AUTHOR IN AN INTERACTIVE DESIGNED ENVIRONMENT/ INSTALLATION:
In order to analyse the role of the author, I will look at the High Arctic and Body Paint installation. The High Arctic featured in the National Maritime Museum is an interactive installation constructed of grouped 3D columns, floor projections displaying various interactive designs, voice overs reciting poetry and sounds reflective of the Arctic environment. Body Paint is an interactive installation which allows users to paint on a virtual canvas with their body, interpreting gestures and dance into evolving compositions.
The High Arctic involves user interaction which raises the issue of authorship. The user having an input within this environment, leads to the question of them becoming the author. As Cameron exclaims:
“And if the reader chooses his or her own pathway through the story then the narrator – or
director – can be done away with; in effect the function and authority of authorship is usurped by the reader,” (Cameron, 2007, P1).
By the user selecting their own way through the domain, they in essence become the author. The choice of what happens is up to the participant , but even with this “freedom,” a restriction still exists. The user can only interact within the “framework” of the “possibilities” created by the “author”(Cameron, 2007, P1). Within the High Arctic the user can only interact and move within the construct of the installation, not go outside of it. A sector of the High Arctic includes a 2D design of numerous moving squares projected onto a section of the floor. The participant introducing Ultraviolet light to a square, results in the square breaking up into several pieces. These pieces can be moved with a smooth solid motion of light shone from the fragments to another part of the area. Furthermore, a longer and still exposure of light to any of these shapes results in them disappearing all together.
Body paint requires the user to use their body in order to make paint marks onto the digital canvas. The work doesn't last as it vanishes quite quickly and furthermore others add their own input. In this case, the user only becomes the author for the short duration that they make their own artistic contribution.
The author is considered to be someone who writes / produces something. More specifically an author can be anybody that makes anything. For example, it can be someone who creates a piece of artwork. However, this isn't always the case. This can be seen when looking at authorship within the film industry. Here under the law, the film director is considered the author or one of the authors of a film. The producer/ producers are usually included in this.