by Marsha Little Matthews

I discovered this video on the CBS Evening News web page. CBS News posted this 1 minute 13 second time-lapse video of the 10-hour process to make a police officer invisible. This is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

I’m interested in how narratives could be wholly or in-part told using time-lapse video/photography. This short time-lapse video showing the behind-the-scenes of the process of making an actor appear invisible isn’t a narrative about the consequences of driving under the influence or part of a narrative about the consequences of driving under the influence… or is it?

“The fullest form of narrativity occurs when the text is both intended as narrative and possesses sufficient narrativity to be construed as such, though the story encoded in the text and the story decoded by the reader can never be extracted from the brain and laid side by side for comparison.” (Ryan, 2004, pp. 9-10)

The term “text” may also be construed as mediated narratives using audio, video, photography, painting, sculpture, music, etc.

“…narrative is a mental image – a cognitive construct – built by the interpreter as a response to the text.” (Ryan, 2004, p. 9)

Narrative meaning is the cognitive construct or mental image created by the interpreter/listener/viewer/reader of the storyteller’s narrative. What the interpreter brings personally to the experience influences the narrative meaning he/she constructs cognitively. So, the interpreter of this particular time-lapse video brings his/her prior experiences and meanings to the “text” of the video. Will this result in the cognitive construction of new narrative meaning for the interpreter of the video? And if so, will this narrative meaning differ from individual to individual?

Hmmm… narrative storytelling across media… what bits, forms, and pieces might be intertwined, constructed, and deconstructed to convey different meanings on a variety of levels to varied and multiple audiences for a single narrative story? What about the meaning the storyteller is hoping to share? Is the narrative meaning for the interpreter the same, completely different, or a hybrid (and perhaps deeper) mental construct?

The questions, musings, and possibilities are intriguing.


Ryan, Marie-Laure (2004). Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Copyright 2013 Marsha Little Matthews