Panel One – Location based narratives.
This panel will consider narratives that are attached to specific locations, looking at spaces as containers of narrative, navigating story elements in a place, engaging users in a narrative architecture and the relationships between identity and space. A theme is narrative and real world spaces, the intersection of narrative and daily life.
Location Scout (working title) – a location based mobile game
Rosamund Davies, University of Greenwich.
The Old Royal Naval College (ORNC), Greenwich, is extensively used as a film location. Its neo-classical architecture has been employed by filmmakers to represent a wide range of sites of imperial/military power, both real and imaginary. Visitors to the ORNC have shown a strong interest in its role as a film location and the interpretation team is keen to build on this as part of their strategy for engaging with the 16- 25 demographic. In response to this, we are developing an idea for a mobile game, in which players take on the role of a film location scout to explore the ORNC site. The project draws on the examination within cultural studies and geography of the social and political production of space and has the aim to encourage players to engage critically with the ORNC as a site of cultural meaning and narrative and explore how it might be refashioned through their own navigation of the space.
The two key questions we are currently investigating and would like to discuss at the symposium are a) how best to create a community of collaborators/players and b) how best to orchestrate the integration between the two narrative arcs of the game – i) the narrative frame of the location recce and ii) the ‘game story’ that players will create themselves as they traverse the space – in order to facilitate the players’ ability to remap the space and make it meaningful through their own narrative engagement with it.
Shaping Words: Narrating Shapes
Erin Kavanagh, Independent Scholar
“People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it is the other way around. Stories exist independently of their players. If you know that, the knowledge is power.”
When stories become identity, their words assume a different shape to that of marks on an otherwise blank page. Communities and individuals lay claim to (or a claimed by) myths of place and space, they are worn as cultural narratives that unify and distinguish one from ‘the other’. Re-presenting such stories to those who have assumed ownership can be contentious. Collaborations between academic and non-academic partners reveal the spaces between knowledge and belief, where politics resides in an ethical guise.
This paper explores the challenges of facilitating participatory culture in narrative projects, as platformed by Tourism and Heritage. The case studies come from a long-running deep mapping project in Ceredigion, which (in part) has aimed to connect both visitors and locals to the land they are walking upon. Giving equal voice to disparate perspectives through creative collaboration requires an awareness of the many shapes that stories can form. Working with, rather than for, an audience can also dissolve the boundaries which commonly separate these expressions, merging the performer with the performed – when the author becomes the reader and the storytelling becomes a shared experience (Barthes, 1977).
Barthes, Roland (1977). Heath, Simon (transl). Image, Music, Text. London: Fontana Press.
Pratchett, Terry (1992), Witches Abroad. London: Corgi. P8
Professor Karen Henwood, Dr Chris Groves, Dr Fiona Shirani – Cardiff University, School of Social Sciences
Storymaking in sustainable energy systems research: invoking “a sense of energy” through multimodal techniques and exhibitions
Storymaking in different guises has been at the heart of the Energy Biographies study, a social scientific research project based at Cardiff University. This has taken the form of energy stories submitted to our project website (www.energybiographies.org) through to accounts generated in qualitative longitudinal interviews across four case sites. Alongside qualitative interviewing techniques we garnered storied data from participants’ responses to participant-generated and SMS-prompted photo-narratives and responses to films clips of future homes as envisaged in the 1950s and 2010s. In our presentation, we will draw centrally on a film made of an exhibition “A Sense of Energy”, which was built around the use of data, materials and ideas arising from the Energy Biographies study along with four other companion projects involved in the same ESRC/EPSRC Community Energy Joint Venture. The exhibition, together with the film that documented it, was a collaboration between academic colleagues, a conceptual artist, a professional film-maker and a sound artist. In discussing our efforts to develop methodological techniques to help people tell their stories, we seek to raise questions and possibilities about the use of ‘cultural probes’ (Gaver, Dunne & Pacenti, 1999) in a social science rather than design context. As we move from Energy Biographies to a new research project (Flexible Integrated Energy Systems, FLEXIS), what techniques can we utilise and develop to prompt storytelling in ways that encompass material and symbolic dimensions of everyday life?
Panel 2 – Participation
This panel concerns projects that engage participants as storytellers for their own benefit. Using narrative as a means of expression and discussion. What might be the benefits when the audience become the storyteller? What happens when the narrative experience is a process of storytelling? How might participants collaborate and share experience?
Becky Edwards- University of Chichester.
Just write – how interactive storymaking can support development of self-esteem, enhance literacy skills and create a love of writing in children from 3 years upwards.
This presentation will use my practical experience as an award winning children’s author and facilitator of interactive children’s writing groups to demonstrate the varied and numerous benefits of collaborative storymaking for children from diverse backgrounds and with varying abilities. It will demonstrate how the collaborative process of making stories based on children’s interests, shared and individual, can help children to believe in themselves as authors and illustrators .The paper will discuss how participation in the creative process helps children, including reluctant readers and writers, to gain confidence in their literacy abilities, gain ownership of their learning and find their literary voice.
Dylan Roys – University of Lincoln and Rose Braisby – Rampton Hospital
Rampton high secure hospital is working in collaboration with the University of Lincoln to enhance the treatment delivered to patients with personality disorders through the production of media artefacts.
The team develops fictional narratives and works to hone these by a process of group discussion and editing. They record these stories to form a radio drama based on patient’s experiences and equip them with new interpersonal skills to move on in their recovery.
Project leaders take a new approach by developing professional relationships with the patients as opposed to the overtly therapeutic interactions they are used to. Patients work as creative collaborators in a professional media production company responsible for their own deadlines and decision making. They are encouraged to professionally discuss and critique their own work and the work of others.
The therapy in which patients are exposed to during treatment is subtly embedded within the media workshops by a process of enhanced experiential learning.
The project and allied study hopes to show that radio production as an extension of storytelling offers an ability to reflect on the narrative development and so moves the genre from a listener focused medium to one which has its benefit mostly with the producer.
Proof is a difficult concept in a volatile and intense environment but we hope to show evidence of impact in that there is an improvement of self-esteem and behaviour as a result of modeling their fictional narratives.
Kelly Zarins- Practice-Based PhD Candidate, Leeds Trinity University, International Research Centre for Interactive Storytelling (IRIS)
Building Communities of Practice: learning from the “ground-up” in the interactive documentary
The Leeds International Women’s Filmmaking Collective was set up in March 2015 to invite female international students in Leeds to co-create an interactive documentary based on their experiences of building a new life in the city. This paper will discuss key workshops from our production journey so far, and how our collaborations are shaping the interactive documentary which we are working towards. As we reach the half-way point of this 3 year project, I will share the ways in which our production workshops have evolved, based on the experiences of building the collective; offering reflections on our socials, conversation clubs and recent zine in a day workshop.
Using the Yarn platform (https://yarncommunity.org) as a tool to chronicle and share the story of our production process with other mediamakers, academics and independent practitioners, we are entering into a discourse surrounding creative confidence, and how fledgling mediamakers can strengthen their voices from learning and creating collectively.
Co-constructed research is not a single coherent framework or research method, but instead describes a research approach which seeks to redress the power imbalances between researchers and communities, knowledge and power. (Horner, 2016: 28)
Horner, Lindsey, K. 2016. Co-constructing Research: A Critical Literature Review. AHRC Available on-line: https://connected-communities.org/index.php/project_resources/co- constructing-research-a-critical-literature-review
Kate Bevan – Artist / Researcher
“I care” is a performative intervention (after Augusto Boal’s: Theatre of the Oppressed) that raises issues around children who care for adults. Emerging themes, based on real-life experiences, are expressed through a child’s perspective. So, what is often un-spoken becomes ‘spoken’ and what is often un-heard becomes ‘heard’.
So where does creative collaboration of voices meet/engage with the audience?
Audience members are invited to participate and interpret the reading. Each is given a script and basic instruction as how they can interpret/interact. The reading lasts approximately 10 minutes.
The piece expresses the voices of the children who care for adults. It attempts to challenge audience perceptions and engage them in the discourse of the reader/performers. There is a space for discussion afterwards.
As an artist I seek to include the excluded, to empower them and to enhance their well-being by enabling their voices, often “less-heard”, to be heard.
This form of storytelling is used to facilitate empowerment in the collaboration of sharing and in doing re-gain an element of self-worth as they strive to come to terms with traumatic experiences.
Panel Three – Transmedia Storytelling
This panel will concentrate on projects that tell stories across platforms and engage their audience to interact with the story in various media environments, creating playful and social narrative experiences. The panel moves from the perspective of participation in, to the creation of transmedia projects.
Dr. Bronwin Patrickson -Playing the Mooc
The Sherlock Holmes Internet of Things (iot) MOOC that ran in both 2015 and 2016 borrowed the traditional name and format for massively open online courses (MOOCs) and adjusted it to inspire a digital maker oriented event: a massively open/offline collaboration designed to foster thematically relevant creations for the internet of things. The weekly video lectures, hangouts and networking/ developing tasks aim to foster real world, creative storytelling and digital making connections.
Spearheaded by Lance Weiler, one of the pioneers of the extended cinema movement along with game designer Nick Fortugno the MOOC is a prototype for a potentially dynamic new format for participatory creative works.
In this paper I compare the best practice principles that Weiler has been refining through these prototypes with my own experience as a participant. Weiler emphasizes the need for users to be able to trace themselves with in the narrative in some sort of meaningful way. A pre-existing, instantly recognizable thematic format (such as Sherlock Holmes) is also vital to help quickly introduce a shared blank canvas of sorts that users can personalize as they will.
My participatory experience also highlights the importance of making real world connections (for empathy, along with a sense of personal investment in and connection with the project) with a practical, creative focus (for a clear challenge and reward).
As these best practice principles imply this sort of event is not simply storytelling – but a social, playful, skilful drama with its own developing, distinct poetics.
Katherine May – Canterbury Christ Church University
Being Betty: Sex, Lies and Networked Self-Narrative
In 2010, I developed an online alter-ego who changed the way I wrote. Betty Herbert afforded me a new narrative voice: salacious, frank, funny and emotionally exposed; but she also introduced me to the practice of co-creating narrative with an audience, using both public and private channels on Twitter and WordPress.
This paper will examine the ways in which authors can collaborate with audiences to generate interconnected, fragmentary stories that resist formal narrative structures, but which instead reflect Fludernik’s ‘natural narratives’ and Georgakopoulou’s ‘small stories’, and may therefore have more in common with conversational narrative than with written fiction or non-fiction. I will argue that risk appears to be a crucial part of shared personal narrative – for example, in terms of exposing information that renders us vulnerable to criticism or ridicule – and set this in the context of narrative ‘costly signalling’ (Flesch; Boyd), to suggest that managed risk aims to cement group bonds.
Finally, I will examine the ways in which commercial pressures can impact on collaborative storytelling projects, and consider how and where the author and audience can be separated when, as was the case with this project, the time comes to convert the storytelling into a more conventional literary form, and publish a book. I will argue that simply seeing this audience as ready-made book – buyers is limited and limiting, and call for a radical remodelling of the role of the author in the light of new and complex opportunities to make contact with audiences.
Anna Zaluczkowska – Leeds Beckett University
Negotiated Narratives – making work with my audiences
Red Branch Heroes is an interactive transmedia prototype story set in contemporary Northern Ireland. It investigates ways to write and construct stories with the active participation of audiences.
In Northern Ireland where notions of territory are disputed the idea of a negotiated project – one that is constructed by a range of people (writers, artists, actors, producers, directors, enthusiasts and audiences) opens up possibilities for the transgression of established boundaries.
This paper argues that writing practice is changing, that visual storytelling is as important as the written word and improvisation is as important as scripted work. Writers working in these new environments need to work creatively with their readers/viewers and co-creators to build their stories.
Red Branch Heroes is a prototype that encourages participation and creates a narrative that is inclusive and discursive. It addresses the notion of audiences as active performers and argues for participation through interactive techniques. This paper extracts some of the useful lessons learnt from the project and asks if these imply emancipation and agency for the transmedia form.
Dr Ronan Lynch, Dr Bride Mallon, Dr Cornelia Connolly – Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland
For acclaimed game designer Elan Lee, we are currently in the midst of an exciting and contemporary era in the history of storytelling, where users adopt an always-on, always- connected, means of interaction (Gamasutra, 2013).
Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) are transmedia narrative-based games that use the Internet and the real world as central communication platforms. Boundaries between reality and fiction are disguised as the game reacts to the interactions and play of its participants. ARGs challenge players to collaboratively decipher clues and untangle a narrative that is woven into the fabric of the real world. Elements of game play can seep from the online world into face-to-face encounters in the real world, often becoming part of players’ everyday lives.
ARGs for Learning embody Henry Jenkins’ (2006) “cultural evolution” towards a narrative, technological, and pedagogical convergence. The pedagogical application of ARGs is relatively new though, and there is little knowledge in how to align ARGs and Game-Based Learning (GBL). This presentation details a design-based research study that included the creation of an artefact, titled, Plunkett’s Pages, an ARG that taught players about events from Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising. The study of Plunkett’s Pages provides insights into the pedagogical application of ARGs, addressing the challenge of reconstructing a century-old narrative for the Digital Age. Lessons are abstracted as guidelines to assist in the creation and management of quality ARGs for Learning.
This presentation highlights ARGs as a valuable game form for facilitating learning and the telling of expansive, digital stories.
Gamasutra (2013) ‘He Loves Bees: An interview with Xbox’s experimental storyteller’, [online], available:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/196587/the_nature_of_the_beast_why_elan_.ph p [accessed 29 November 2013].
Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robinson, A. J. and Weigel, M. (2006) Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.