Prof Marian Ursu

Department of Theatre, Film, TV and Interactive Media
University of York

For most of my academic career, I have been involved in multi- and inter-disciplinary research that lies at the intersection of Computer Sciences and Artificial Intelligence with areas of Creative Industries, including Film, Television, Theatre, Art and Design, marrying, to use Steve Jobs’ words, technology with liberal arts and with humanities. This is the vision I had at Goldsmiths, University of London, since 2000, whilst working on the development of Creative Computing as a new area of research and teaching, and now at York, since 2013, working on the development of Interactive Media.   

As Director of the DC Labs, I am fostering this vision in the space that lies in between two fundamental forms of human interaction: storytelling and play. The new digital media technologies invites them to move towards each other, cross-fertilize and thus generate new forms of mediated (trans-mediated!) interaction, communication and expression with applications in all the sectors of our daily lives, including entertainment, socialisation, information, education, politics and health care. I had a similar agenda as Head of Interactive Media in the Department of Theatre, Film, TV and Interactive Media.

In my own research, I’ve approached this space from the storytelling end. I’ve worked on the creation of new forms of mediated storytelling that are able to automatically adapt or respond to the contexts in which they are experienced, in conjunction with developing new tools and technologies that support their authoring and distribution (acknowledging that one is not possible without the other!). I’ve led research at this end in various collaborative research projects totalling over 30M Pounds, including interactive storytelling in film and TV (drama, documentaries, news), automatic stories compiled from user generated content, video-mediated distributed theatre and remote audiences, intelligent video-centric tools for performance tuition, and intelligent video-conferencing/telepresence communication inspired by TV. A good example is the ShapeShifting Media Tools, founded in the Narrative Structure Language - the world’s first language for interactive video narratives - which was used in various productions, including an interactive soap watched by over 500,000 viewers. In the DC Labs we are expanding this space to include interactive storytelling in games, storytelling in immersive media, community storytelling, eSports, and multi-platform storytelling