A new form of storytelling that has evolved from Twitter fan fiction to desktop films

A closer look at this screenshot reveals interesting stories not only about how media evolves over time but also about how the humblest of technical operations can give rise to sophisticated forms of culture.

What started as a way to document images has evolved and become a unique form of expression.

Portable form of annotation

Screenshots are a great way to add annotations because they are so easy to create. Computer media has become more dynamic and plentiful over the years.

Users can deal with the issue of excessive data by taking screenshots. They isolate certain elements and save them as separate pictures.

Screenshots help you remember content visually. They are appealing because they sidestep the exclusivity of social media and its temporary nature. For example, people who want to share a post on social media with someone else.

This ability to move captured information is what gives the screenshot its power. The screenshot is a portable way to store information.

It increases the control of users over this process by allowing them to move images on different channels. Media objects can be constituted more flexibly and circulated through a variety of channels, allowing for archiving and articulating their meanings to become easier.

‘Print screen’

The print screen key is still present on many computers today, and it reminds us that screenshots have a long tradition. (Shutterstock)

In older text-based systems, the command Print screen sends the contents of the screen to a printer connected.

Print Screen serves as a reminder that screenshots have a long history, even though they are a natural extension of digital technologies. Documenting screen media in order to represent it in different formats was a necessity long before computers existed.

What if, decades ago, a museum wanted to document video art being displayed at an exhibition? Or a magazine would like to show its readers a new interface for a software program. The screens were photographed.

Video game magazines

This method is similar to Reproduction Photography, a professional technique used for replicating unique images such as paintings and engravings.

In the 1990s, video game players took pictures of their screens in order to show off high scores for magazines such as ‘Mean Machines.’ (Wikimedia Commons)

Repro-photography’s goal is transparency. This means that the image should appear as if there were no barriers between the photographer and the viewer. The copy must be faithful to the original and show no signs of it. To achieve this, one must control all aspects of the capture process.

Even amateurs can do reproduction photography with the right equipment.

In the 1990s, it was a popular video game magazine that invited its readers to send pictures of their screens in order to prove their high scores. Many of these magazines included instructions on how you could photograph your screen.

Richer media format

Since those analog screenshots, a lot has changed. The screenshot has evolved into a more sophisticated media format. It is now easier to create and can be captured in high-fidelity video with audio or voice narration.

The aesthetic conventions that govern the practice have changed as well. The same obsession with cleaning the screenshot of “accidents” (such as a thumbprint) that could indicate its origin has changed.

The appeal is now centered on the presence of these elements. They add context and meaning to the image by implying dislocation.

These elements can also be amusing. The screenshot is a chance discovery in the midst of banality. The analog screenshot is intended to show the speed of reproduction, while the digital screenshot uses serendipity in street photography.

Desktop Film

Digital screenshots have been used in popular and avant-garde storytelling. Desktop films are a growing genre of audiovisual stories that take place entirely on a computer monitor.

Experiments that resembled essays were the first desktop films that became popular. They used the flexibility of graphic interfaces in order to create an expanded montage, which is a way of exploring juxtapositions of media from various sources.

Trailer for 2021 computer screen horror movie ‘Dashcam’

The formula is also used more in commercials that use the screen to tell the storyIt can incorporate mediation as a narrative element.

Social media alternate universe

A different type of fanfiction is Social Media Alternate Universe or small.

Fan communities create fictional stories in the style of old epistolary books. The stories are told by the interactions of the characters on fake social media platforms such as Twitter. Posts and screenshots are often used to share the posts.

This format creates a sense of intimacy with the characters by evoking the allure that is found in the para-social relationships that are prevalent on social media.

The dialogues being presented in the same spaces online that the audience is used to makes them feel like they are eavesdropping in on personal conversations.

Beyond Documentation

Desktop films and SMAUs are examples of art forms that show how digital screenshots do more than document an event.

Screens have become the epicenter of daily relationships and activities for many people. Our primary working environment is the computer desktop.

We meet each other most often in instant messaging windows or social media feeds. This is the closest we can come to a true picture of our world. It is a way to participate in the narration and represent it.

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