In her essay, “The Multiple,” The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft, Anne Friedberg explores the narrative possibilities of cinema and new media and illustrates the ways in which these technologies offer viewers (or participants) complex illusions and spatial and temporal mobility. First she recounts the history of film styles and the evolutionary model of the moving image; she introduces a variety of early filmic conventions such as superimposition, stop-motion, split frame composition, and multiple screen technique. According to Friedberg, the multiple screen technique “was organized with the logic of data compression, condensing a large quantity of information into a compressed physical space” (205).
Because cinema, at this time, was a new visual medium, there was room for experimentation; many directors used this creative freedom to play with the filmic structure, challenge the fixed perspective, and test the “fracturing of time and the multiplication of the video image” (214). For example, by placing two images next to each other on screen, one could change the essence or intent of the visual display, establishing a connection between these two separate representations: these images would absolutely adopt new meanings, ones defined by the contextual relationship. The conclusions drawn from this method were “comparative and analytic,” and fundamentally altered our mode of perception. Now, with On Demand, the Internet, and graphic interface, we have the capacity to navigate across multiple sites and networks and divide our attention among various objects of interest.