Norman Klein: Bleeding Through--Layers of Los Angeles, 1920-1986 (Book & DVD-ROM)

Norman Klein: Bleeding Through--Layers of Los Angeles, 1920-1986 (Book & DVD-ROM)

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Book DescriptionA crime fiction in which the journey through the evidence is more exciting than the crime itself ... A narrative strategy that reflects Los Angeles ... as open-ended, inconclusive — a series of beginnings rather than any definitive end ... — by David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Review 1/18/2004

Bleeding Through: Layers of Los Angeles, 1920-1986 is an interactive narrative that combines a database detective story with a digital city symphony and a metanarrative reflection on storytelling in this digital medium. Set in a three-mile radius near downtown Los Angeles, this DVD-ROM explores Boyle Heights, Bunker Hill, Chavez Ravine, Chinatown, Echo Park, Little Tokyo and other contested locations that helped shape the city’s cultural history. These ethnically complex neighborhoods are documented through archival photographs and films and through contemporary images that either reproduce or evoke them. This DVD- ROM is accompanied by a book, which contains a novella by cultural historian Norman M. Klein and essays on the production by Jeffrey Shaw, Marsha Kinder, Rosemary Comella and Andreas Kratky.

The interface enables the narrative to be navigated in three ways. Positioned within a small window, author Norman Klein tells the story of Molly, the fictional protagonist of his novella who is based on a real life person and who may have murdered one of her husbands. He invites us to collaborate with him in writing this fictional life. Or we can explore what Molly never noticed—the back-stories of real life people whose mini-memoirs preserve histories that otherwise might have been lost. And finally, the project leads us to reflect on this act of database storytelling and its cultural implications, particularly when set within L.A.’s urban dream factory. The contrast between past and present is most dramatic and uncanny in the back stories, where one can slide fluidly between "bleed-throughs"—old and new photographs of the same cityscape taken from precisely the same angle—which enable us to make buildings instantaneously emerge or vanish.

Drawing on hundreds of photographs, newspaper clippings and films from the archives of USC, the Los Angeles Public Library and the Automobile Club of Southern California with additional material from personal collections, "Bleeding Through" helps us refigure our vision of Los Angeles, particularly if it has been based primarily on representations from Hollywood mainstream movies.

© 2003 Annenberg Center for Communication University of Southern California