Autobiographical novel, a radio documentary, a DVD and an interactive road trip through the history of American pop culture, The American I Never Was (2004) is essentially a transmedia narrative avant-la-lettre. A project by traveling author Chris Keulemans.
The journey begins in the early sixties when James Brown’s shuffle changed pop music for ever, all the way through to the mid-nineties when Julia Roberts becomes America’s sweetheart portraying a prostitute. Relying on solid content, graphic interfaces and an interactive narrative structure, Submarine Channel delivers a truly interactive, transmedia storytelling experience of unprecedented flair.
At the heart of The American I Never Was lies the novel of the same name by Dutch author Chris Keulemans. While the novel presents the linear story, the website opens up a window on the inner self of the book’s author. The site buys the visitors a ticket into Keulemans’ motivations, inspirations and life experiences, as he is pouring them into his novel. It creates a space for contribution to the novel’s work-in-progress where all the material surrounding the story is collected, discussed and shared. It’s a landmark in the use of multiple media that is giving new meaning to the concept of interactive transmedia narrative.
The DVD (still available in our shop) is a road movie told in stills, about a man coming home where he has never lived. Narrator Chris Keulemans is a Third Culture Kid always imagining that he was really from New Jersey, USA. Now that he finally arrives there, he and photographer Rob Smits aim to discover the beauty, the sense of home, that lie beneath grim surface of New Jersey. Find out by following him in a sometimes poetic, sometimes harsh sequence of photographs, music and text.