Say Hello to ‘Unbound’, an Insta Miniseries with 15-Sec Episodes
The miniseries, based on David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ album, challenges our understanding of both TV & social media.
Tell me a story in 15 seconds.
Sorry, time’s up.
You might (with some justification) seethe that 15 seconds is an obscenely short time for the traditionally leisurely art of storytelling. Where is the time to set the scene, develop characters, introduce conflict, much less effect a resolution?
Enter Unbound, Carolynn Cecilia and Nikki Borges’ Instagram mini-series.
For the uninitiated, Instagram limits video length to 15 seconds. Therefore Unbound, with its 16 parts set to release in installments, will attempt to do what a 20+ episode run does, but in 240 seconds.
Why is that exciting, you ask? Does it not just testify to the millennial generation’s woefully short attention span?
Why, thank you for those conveniently-phrased questions, hypothetical reader!
Unbound, we argue, is so exciting precisely because it offers so little in a world of information overload. In a pop-culture milieu dominated by sequels, prequels, monster movie franchises, message board fandoms, fan-fiction archives and unprecedented ease of access to content creators, fans have almost every whim satiated. We are engorged with trivia, stuffed with Netflix-enabled instant gratification.
The first episode’s 15-second slow pan across a dim library filled to the brim with characters forces us, with its brevity, to really engage with it. Because there is so little to analyse, everything is ripe with meaning, the audio-visual spectrum of the medium exploited to its capacity.
Why is this library full of young people? Who is the child and how is he related to any of these characters? Why is the woman in red embroidering alone? Does the man in the white shirt pose a sinister threat to the group? What do the colour palette and the music signify?
Unbound is almost interactive art in that it forces the viewer to do all the hard work. Instead of being a passive receptacle for information, we are forced to engage with the story, build hypothetical scenarios, ask questions, and just generally immerse ourselves in the world beyond the screen more intensely than we would otherwise. There is always the possibility that the instaminiseries will end up being a gimmick, unable to deliver on its promise but, for now, it is challenging our understanding of a social media platform and that’s enough.
If Netflix original series are Tinder hook-ups, Unbound is shaping up to be a Victorian slow-burn.
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