Pushing Boundaries With Transmedia Storytelling: Insights From MEDIAE 2023/24

As we welcome applications for the new edition, MEDIAE 2023/24 Alumni reflect on a collective experience nurtured by research and production while getting outside of their comfort zone.

Exploring the layered terrain of transmedia storytelling, PhMuseum's online masterclass MEDIAE delves into the expressive potential of photography through interaction with diverse media. Led by Swiss-based visual artist and editor Salvatore Vitale, this unique 8-month online program, now in its 2nd edition, empowers participants to understand the importance of trial and error, and how to find balance within their research.

As the enrollment for the 2024/25 term remains open until June 20, we talked with Thalles Piaget, Hind Mezaina, Tara Fallaux and Carola Lampe, alumni from the 2023/24 edition, to provide honest insights into their experiences, offering prospective students a glance into the educational journey offered by MEDIAE.

Which was the characteristic of transmedia storytelling you found to be the most challenging, or unexpected? Which one did you find to be the most interesting?

Thalles Piaget: I wanted to get out of photography while staying in photography. And I think I've managed to find the balance I'd like in my future projects. How to involve the image and other mediums to create a narrative when these things come together. I've developed ceramic pieces in my case. Certain ideas that I couldn't photograph have been transferred into the shapes and colours of these sculptures.

Hind Mezaina: I wanted to make a new body of work that I wanted to start many years ago but never had the chance, work that is responding to and inspired by a novel from the 1970s by Robin Moore titled Dubai, set in the city I’m from. During the last two months of the masterclass I focused on working on a new video that can be presented as an exhibition installation and also as a short film, and a new photography series. The video has evolved from a simple montage idea to a two-channel video with a script using text from the book to create a fragmented narrative, plus sound. 

Carola Lampe: I wanted to create a new project, develop my practice further and add more layers to it. In this respect, the Mediae Masterclass came in quite handy. Having worked on a number of photographic projects before I was a bit stuck on how to proceed in my practice. The course helped me to push beyond my comfort zone and start experimenting with different media.

Tara Fallaux: I have mainly been focussing on research and from there meeting people I want to collaborate with for future works. I was exploring art that focus on the senses for example and came in touch with an Art and Scent Historian. We are now going to work together on developing a scent. I have also been looking at exhibition design and spatial works. Allowing myself to really think and explore out of my own comfort zone. Experimenting with new ideas. The center outcome of my ‘work in progress’ is still a film but more experimental than I am used to make. 

How do you believe participating in group sessions contributed to developing your project or ideas?

Carola Lampe: You can always learn from the people in a group, be it by receiving ideas and references to other artists as well as experiencing the work practice and thought process of your fellow students.

Tara Fallaux: We look at the research and materials of each other's projects and then give feedback. That is very valuable because everyone has their own style and approach and also recommendations on what to look at. I have seen a lot of new artist projects that I haven’t heard of before.

Hind Mezaina: Listening and learning about very different subjects and approaches to making visual work, by other artists and participants of the masterclass.

Thalles Piaget: Because it's always more enlightening to get lots of different feedback. And as we all came from different places with different resources, cultures and inspirations, it helped to see the project from a much wider angle and from several points of view. And this is something that we always miss or that is quite difficult to access after studies.

What did you find the most effective in Salvatore's approach and teaching method?

Hind Mezaina: The importance of trial and error, ‘making prototypes’ of the ideas we have to see if we like the direction we’re taking, and if not, to try something else. Salvatore was also very generous when it came to sharing his own work and process in his own artistic practice, and emphasizing the importance of knowing how to present and talk about our work to others. 

Thalles Piaget: How he was able to mix theory and practice in a concrete way.

Tara Fallaux: The masterclass is very well built up. Salvatore knows a lot about contemporary artists and projects working in the field of extended photography so he always has interesting examples. He challenges you to think outside the box and your own comfort zone. Even though 7 months sounds like a lot of time it goes by quickly though because there is so much to cover and discover. 

Carola Lampe: The class was well structured and Salvatore gave a good overview about transmedia storytelling. He was also very generous with insights into his own practice and was always very inspiring. He shares his vast knowledge about artists and projects and gives examples which might be relevant for your project. Salvatore encourages you to experiment and enjoy it and think outside the box.

If you were to mention one Studio Visit that stuck to your mind, which one would it be and why?

Carola Lampe: All of the Studio Visits were interesting and you could take something from every talk. For my work particularly interesting were the talks of Jon Uriarte, Lars Willumeit, Domenico Quaranta as they are concerned with technologies and their impact on photography, expanded photography and the future of it. The talk of Elisa Medde has been quite impressive as she was very clear and a good speaker. Amak Mahmoodian's talk has been very poetic which was quite powerful and and and.. So, you definitely shouldn't miss the Studio Visits.

Hind Mezaina: All the Studio Visits were extremely valuable and it was a privilege to listen to artists and curators I’ve only read about before, and everyone was very generous in sharing their work experience and knowledge. But the one that stood out has to be Amak Mahmoodian’s Studio Visit because she read one of her poems during the presentation of one of her series and was kindly asked if she could end the studio visit with another poem. Listening to her read poetry was very moving. All studio visits should start and end with a poem. 

Thalles Piaget: You're hard with your questions... Each Visit had its own style, and I found it very interesting to see all the different ways of presenting a project on screen and the talks that followed the presentations were the most rewarding! Jon Uriarte and all the research and stories surrounding the digital image really interested me. Elisa Medde and her way of talking about images and artists as a curator. Amak Mahmoodian who talked about her work and collaborations, which created her whole universe in the most honest and poetic way.

Tara Fallaux: All the Studio Visits were worth watching and listening to. They were all quite different too. And not all were working with transmedia. But it’s interesting to see other artists and curators' work methods and approaches. So therefore difficult to pick one. I really enjoyed the presentation of Amak Mahmoodian because she has a more poetic approach. I like work that evokes feelings and touches you on another level. Elisa Medde was also very good and clear and not afraid of showing how she manages to combine motherhood and being a very good speaker at the same time. Mathieu Asselin is just very enthusiastic and very good at presenting and talking about his interesting projects.

What impression do you now have of online education? What kind of relationship was created within the group?

Tara Fallaux: Personally I find it quite hard to talk about my own research in an online meeting. It’s different when I have a finished project. I have done that before and that’s fine. But when you are still navigating and exploring I find it difficult to express myself online and present on a flat screen. On the other hand, it’s amazing to be in a group with people from all over. And after a while there is still a bond being formed. I feel we have a nice group and that some of us will stay in touch. I love the network outside of my own bubble. 

Carola Lampe: Online education is great to allow you to meet with artists from around the world. Having to communicate through the screen is sometimes a bit challenging as the physical presence is missing. However, there was some bonding happening and it would be nice to meet offline at some point.

Thalles Piaget: I knew a little bit about the type of experience I was going to get into, as we all experienced this in one way or another during Covid. The fact that we all started a project from the beginning meant that we learned to discover each other through the projects and that we could give each other more in-depth feedback, as each class saw how we were doing in developing a project. And now I know people who live in other places that I'll be able to meet for real one day.

Hind Mezaina: I’m all for it if it is with a small group, up to 10-12 participants. It is more manageable that way and easy to build rapport early with everyone and to familiarize with everyone’s work and personalities. Any more would make it difficult to develop a closer relationship within the group. Many of us worked at a different pace with our projects, but we were also open to meet when possible to share our work in progress for feedback and opinions. 

What advice would you give to future students to make the most out of their experience in the program?

Thalles Piaget: Do it if you can really put some time to it! I think that's where all the benefit lies.

Tara Fallaux: Give yourself enough time to explore outside of your comfort zone. Make an effort to follow all Studio Visits. Those are, besides the group sessions, very insightful. It all depends on what you want your result to be. Some will have a nearly finished project ready to pitch and some will have a great beginning of a new project with new approaches. It’s your own journey but make the most of it. 

Carola Lampe: Allocate a good amount of time to the program, 7 months are going by quickly. Just focus on this class, be open, experiment and start producing early.

Hind Mezaina: Try to have an idea of the work you want to make as early as possible, so you can develop it as much as you can during the masterclass. Be open to try mediums you’ve not worked on or exhibited before. If you feel stuck, it’s ok to pause even for a few days. Go for a walk, a swim, visit an exhibition, watch a film, just do something very different and unrelated, and eventually, you will feel inspired to get back to what it is you are trying to make. 

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MEDIAE Online Masterclass On Transmedia Storytelling is part of the PhMuseum new educational program, comprising four different masterclasses that will all share a single intake period running until 20 June, with classes beginning in October 2024. Each course is tailored to meet the needs of emerging photographers, artists, curators, and contemporary storytellers looking to bring their methods to the next level. Check out which program suits you best at phmuseum.com/education

APPLICATION KEY DATES:

23 May - If you apply by this date you can be eligible for the full scholarship, and will automatically access the Early Bird Fee of €1,750. 

20 June - If you apply by this date you can join the program by paying the Regular Fee of €2,000.

© Thalles Piaget, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni
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© Thalles Piaget, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni

Screenshot from a Seminar by Salvatore Vitale, Mediae 2023/24
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Screenshot from a Seminar by Salvatore Vitale, Mediae 2023/24

© Pritam Mitra, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni
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© Pritam Mitra, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni

© Rosa Lacavalla, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni
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© Rosa Lacavalla, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni

© Carola Lampe, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni
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© Carola Lampe, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni

Screenshot from an Online Group Session, Mediae 2023/24
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Screenshot from an Online Group Session, Mediae 2023/24

© Tara Fallaux, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni
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© Tara Fallaux, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni

© Nelli Serzanowa, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni
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© Nelli Serzanowa, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni

Screenshot from an Online Group Presentation, Mediae 2023/24
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Screenshot from an Online Group Presentation, Mediae 2023/24

© Mojca Radkovič, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni
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© Mojca Radkovič, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni

Screenshot from an Online Group Presentation, Mediae 2023/24
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Screenshot from an Online Group Presentation, Mediae 2023/24

© Madeline Swainhart, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni
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© Madeline Swainhart, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni

© Hind Mezaina, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni
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© Hind Mezaina, Mediae 2023/24 Alumni