It is with more than 10 years of experience in the field that Bruno Choinière heads the creative web department at Akufen. His work has consistently stood out throughout his career. His latest noteworthy creations include the DADA DATA interactive documentary; The Wanted 18 interactive graphic novel and several website redesigns for renowned restaurant groups such as Batali & Bastianich, Sprout LA and Momofoku. Bruno has given lectures and facilitated training sessions at numerous events, including the Filmgate festival in Miami, the Interactive Documentary Workshop in Switzerland. We met Bruno while he was tutoring at the Doc Tank workshop for transmedia projects within the East Doc Platform 2017 in Prague.
Akufen is an award-winning agency located in Montreal, specializing in interactive design. “We are searching for new ways to tell stories. Our strong drivers include technology and design. Once we have a story, we start with the visual style. We never start a project with the technology in mind. The choice of technology is driven by the story itself.” Bruno Choinière explains the way he works.
“The flag ship of our projects is Dada Data. We launched this project last year to celebrate 100 years’ anniversary of Dadaism. There was so much to get inspired by – particularly the quote “One cannot understand Dada. One must experience it.“ (Richard Huelsenbeck, 1920). We tried to do what would be Dadaism now, with all the technology of today. We came out with six different actions. First, we have launched Dada Block and then, week after week, the following. Once you install the web browser extension called the “Dada Block”, it replaces all the online advertisements (except for video) by art. The user is then surrounded by art and quotes from Dadaism all the time.” describes Bruno.
Another successful project was A Journal of Insomnia. It is a collaborative experience where insomniacs are both spectators and actors in a large interactive fresco composed of impressions and reflections on what keeps them from sleeping. “We prepared over 200 questions and asked people to answer in three different ways, either by voice – you could record your answers with your microphone; by writing without any limits in terms of length or by drawing with your mouse,” says Bruno. In the end, more than 2,000 insomniacs participated and hundreds of accounts were given by insomniacs via webcam, keyboard and mouse. This source material has become A Journal of Insomnia where the public is invited to make an appointment with an insomniac of their choice. They can, at the stipulated time, surrender a part of their night to experience insomnia by momentarily adopting the other´s point of view. “The only way you could interact with the content and with the web doc is by waking up, connecting to your pc and feeling what they really feel, getting a first-hand impression of their insomnia,” adds Bruno. Almost three years of work were necessary to bring this documentary project alive – the creative stage and interface design alone took a month while the phone and security system development required about 6 to 8 months.
The latest project that came out in April is Phone Stories, a collection of reality-based interactive stories. Each episode is written in real time by a well-known author, with the option of updating several times a day. This form of storytelling is only available in mobile applications and each story is written as a book where the user is a hero – he makes his choice and customises his story himself. The first episode of the documentary game series, called The Infiltrator / l’infiltré is a political fiction directed by David Dufresne, author and director of interactive documentaries, artist-in-residence at MIT’s Open Documentary Lab since 2014, and old-school punk investigative journalist. A fake person, a policeman from the DGSI (General Directorate for Internal Security in France) infiltrates the Front National by being the community manager. “Having downloaded the mobile application, you make your own selection of several stories and then you have to wait until the author has continued all the different stories affected and inspired by authentic events involved in the French presidential campaign right now. In the morning, you can read what is, in a way, a mirror of the current events presented through fiction and fake characters,“ explains Bruno who is involved in the project as a co-producer together with Narrative Boutique.