Helen Bendon works at ‘The Lansdown Centre for Electronic Arts’ at Middlesex University , her background is fine art,  film and photography, but she also has an overwhelming interest  in narrative and storytelling. She took part in the creation of   a trial project called ‘Locating Drama’ which was carried out in  St James garden ,Liverpool in the cathedral grounds in  2008,where 90 people took part.  They also worked alongside the BBC . It is an audio based drama with mobile devises, initially using PDA’s but they have also now developed it for the use of  iPhones  and for the android so can  now be used on mobile phones. They use GPS navigation systems and story maps that activate user content as they walk around.  This project entailed people walking around the gardens with headphones on, and there was no visuals at all just headphones, noises ocean sounds, snoring etc and as they  walked the noises and voices sounded but when the noises stopped, had to piece it all together.Some people found it a little disorientating, some felt like they were experiencing a ‘cut up’ and she found she wanted to form it all together to form a narrative and to make sense of it, but then she felt that that was what we tend to naturally do.

One piece of feedback which i found interesting was one man saying ‘it’s good to not have visuals as it’s all to do with the imagination’. One lady felt a real interaction with the voices and that they were talking to her directly.Helen used this project then as a case study to allow her to discuss how we would deal with narrative and interactivity.She said that in the project she wanted to focus on ‘authored content’, and the BBC were also very interested in this as well as they need to keep moving forward with their radio writers to improve the experience of their radio dramas.

In the past Helen said she  had experienced similar projects but they were very  site specific , and it would not generate huge amounts of new listeners for broadcasters . She  wanted to move away from that and become ‘translocational’. Looking at the locative potential, ie what are the narrative structures and how can we move away from them. The information used on the project was gathered from GPS , ie time date and location, and also the location related to a starting project. With the information she said it was possible for them to  infer  the speed of movement.She carreid on to explain that he   satellites used in GPS can tell is we are stationary, moving east to west and also implied orientation, and can also tell multi sessional knowledge ie how many times you have done something before and what time you have done it -Helen  thought this could be useful when telling stories, she looked at how this could be used in narrative potential – how can this information could also be useful for people like the BBC?She even went as far as to say that in the future this imformation could also be used with ‘augmented reality.’

Within the project they looked at ‘trans locational aspects’ and also ‘listener behaviour’.They created boundaries to let people know if they were walking outside of the ‘space’ where the story could be accesssed -ie boo’ed if you walked outside and applauded if you walked in – they also made things louder as you walked nearer to them.One of the main benefits in this project being that ,as Bendon says  it allows you to ‘play with narrative that isn’t straight forward’.The programme remembers what you have heard already, and the characters can even  call out to you etc.

Users of the project locating the narrative

Benton said that they did preliminary trials with writers, recorded at BBC studios, lots of editing – and that the prototype technology was developed by HP – which enabled them  to use audio, visuals and  also interact with a physical landscape – creating a ‘mediascape’

Benton describes it as a ‘non linear experience’,  the narrative progressing the more you went into the park.They used a narrator to frame the space of the park, and as people went deeper into the park they also went through different ‘curtains’ and deeper into the story.

A video of the users experiences can be viewed at :-