What happens to the story when animation expands beyond the screen, beyond the cinema venue? Do the new sites (both physical and virtual) call for different content, different form of presentation? What kind of stories would we tell in these immersive environments, that alternate the screen space?

When animation is displaced from traditional screening venues, the viewing experience changes, the attention span shortens and the fixed point of view vanishes in favour of an interactive or immersive experience. Traditional storytelling is challenged by these circumstances, and this situation paves the way towards emergent story structures that work better beyond a single screen. Unlike animations screened in the traditional cinema setting, animated installations most often employ architectural space as an integral part of the story. They are spatial experiences. But so are stories in completely virtual worlds (i.e. in VR). Whether the story is set on multiple screens in physical space, or in a 360 degrees virtual environment, they all deal with spatial storytelling. These stories become spatial encounters, but do these structures tell a story, offering guidance on our journey, or are we left stranded in a virtual world, meant to pick up fragments on a go? Storytelling approaches for immersive environments vary between author driven stories and interactive narratives – on one hand dealing with the desire to tell, while on the other, the desire to withhold, leaving only hints and plenty of space for the viewer to fill in the gaps.

This paper will examine works that tackle the above mentioned questions, and among them, it will also offer an insight into the work in progress of the practical component of my PhD research – the Family Portrait. A fragmented narrative depicting a dysfunctional family, in the form of a seven screen synchronised animated installation, while being concerned with figurative, spatial storytelling. This work functions as an integral part of the research as a whole, where the on-going theoretical explorations inform the practical studio based work, and vice versa. The aim of this research is to identify narrative strategies that can be employed as spatial storytelling for a variety of expanded animation forms.

Key words: storytelling, fragmented narratives, expanded animation, animated installation