First We Feel Then We Fall : James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake as an interactive video application

AbstractThe article describes First We Feel Then We Fall, a multichannel, interactive video application, which is a multimedia adaptation of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. It offers the viewers a portmanteau-like audiovisual experience resembling the experience of reading Joyce’s enigmatic, multilingual dream-like narrative. Through an audiovisual format consisting of simultaneously running streams, it proposes an intermedial translation of hypertextuality and simultaneity of Finnegans Wake. The Wakean imagery, euphonies, rhythms, and polyphonic contexts are rendered into four narrative strands, or ‘plots’. Networks of linguistic, historical, symbolic, and mathematical meanings entailed in Wakean puns are transposed into a dynamic audiovisual structure that the audience can co-shape in the process of interactive viewing. They can switch at will between four simultaneous streams of film clips accompanied by sound (and optional captions with the Finnegans Wake text). The interactive and immersive nature of First We Feel Then We Fall goes beyond previous cinematic adaptations of Joyce’s novel. It is the advance of digital technologies that have enabled us to approach complexity of Finnegans Wake in this novel way.