A subgenre of database documentary that enables the user to explore various aspects of the city, which are presented more as a catalogue of images and sounds rather than a sustained narrative. Like the cinematic city symphonies of the modernist period (Berlin: A City Symphony, Man with a Movie Camera, parts of L’age d’or), these postmodernist versions position the user as a flaneur. Yet by now he or she is used to the city and is more intrigued with the interactive potential of the medium and with the mysteries embedded in rooms, neighborhoods and other urban interiors.

Future Cinema (2003)
MK’s essay: “Designing a Database Cinema”

p. 348, “Bleeding Through Layers of Los Angeles, 1920-1986 combines a database detective story with a contemporary city symphony and a meta-narrative reflection on storytelling in this new medium...”

p. 353, “One of the key variables in performative interactivity is pacing. In all three projects the orchestration of preset rhythms is crucial to the design. Bleeding Through provides the greatest leeway for temporal play; users can vary the pace by speeding across horizontal strips of cityscape images, or by zeroing in on a particular site and then sliding from one decade to another. The velocity echoes both the fast-talking delivery of Klein’s running commentaries and the staccato urban rhythms of a contemporary city symphony.

Given that tone is so crucial in Tracing the Decay of Fiction and The Danube Exodus, users have less control over the pace. A visual musicality of considerable range is created by O’Neill’s gliding interior pans, by his time-lapse shots of looming clouds and dancing shadows, by the random montages triggered by earthquakes. Similarly, the dense soundtrack combines found music with stylized dialogue and an Expressionistic choice of effects. Each room has its own distinctive music and ambiance, and they change depending on whether the rooms are vacant or inhabited by ghosts. It is as if these acoustic traces lie embedded within these hollow rooms waiting to be discovered and replayed. This dynamic is experienced most intensely in the basement, which is primarily a sound piece in which various voices from the past are remixed. Only in the sections on the Robert Kennedy assassination is an emotional unity created through sound.”