Structure of Time-Based Art

Architecture for story-telling in most time-based art:
music, movies, novels, dance, sex, jokes, life, etc.

Of the innumerable ways to satisfy consumers of time-based art, this is one of them. There are other ways to tell stories, though nearly all naturally follow this basic pattern.

This guideline tool may help shape any time-based artwork, placing principle moments where audiences expect them to satisfy a sense of completion and wholeness, particularly at work's end, yet allowing for endless variety in construction and content. Works already feeling well-structured largely follow this template, and may increase that sense further with minor editing towards it.

Novels and film scripts can be subdivided by pages, music by measures, all in seconds and minutes and hours or years.

The few works which avoid this structure either fail to satisfy temporally, or purposely enjoy a less structured feeling: floating, existentialism, confusion, surrealism, dreamscape, noodling, playfulness, abstractness, disconcertion, etc. Exceptions to this structure are commonly found in dance and club music, drug and psychosis-inspired works, jazz and contemporary anti-mainstream works, and poetry. These are then often presented in collections ordered to resemble the structure, thereby becoming more consumerable.

Joseph Campbell's monomyth, or the hero's journey narrative, can easily follow this structure.

2001 T. Nathan Roane