Moving Experience: the production and consumption of pervasive entertainment.
Project Led by Dr Liz Evans (Culture, Film and Media) working with visiting artist Rik Lander
Dr Sarah Hibberd (Music), Dr Nanette Nielsen (Music), Dr Eva Giraud (Culture, Film and Media), Dr Sarah Martindale (Horizon), Professor Mervyn Cooke (Music), Alexander Kolassa (PhD Student, Music), Jonathan Herrick (PhD Student, Music)
Since 2010, the Moving Experience project has sought to explore how audiences engage with narrative forms across a range of spaces and technologies. It brought filmmaker Rik Lander together with academics from various disciplines to create a pervasive dramatic experience incorporating film, theatre, audioplays, music and opera in a public space. It raised the potential for ‘experiential drama’ in which the audience is placed directly into a narrative in ways not seen in more traditional entertainment and art forms.
By combining multiple narrative forms and different kinds of experience, the project seeks to answer key questions concerning the nature of these forms and audience engagement with them.
The results so far have included the first production of The Memory Dealer (September 2010), a pervasive drama set in a futuristic world that combined live theatre, audioplay and film and used a range of communal and personal media technologies including MP3 players and projection. This was followed by a Feasibility Study (January-March 2011) that explored the potential of integrating RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technologies into a narrative setting, which led to the creation of My Big Break, an SMS-based game that used RFID tags to trigger each stage. These two small-scale projects have led to the creation of a new interdisciplinary research group involving academics from Culture, Film and Media, Music and Computer Science - the Moving Experience group - wishing to explore the relationship between technology, space and narrative.
The group’s focus is on ‘pervasive experiential drama’, in which fictional worlds are layered onto public spaces and participants become integrated into the narrative in ways unseen in traditional, expositional forms such as film and television. Pervasive drama is an emerging field and still under-researched. By including a range of media forms (such as film, live performance and music) across a number of technologies (both personal and communal) it has the potential to be a truly cross-disciplinary research area and the methodological requirements of such potential are not yet fully understood.
The group is concerned with exploring this potential through a focus on technological and human factors relating to narrative, space and media technologies. This focus is explored through three overarching research questions:
- how do individual media forms (film, theatre, music) shape the immersive experience of pervasive narratives in private, semi-private and public spaces?
- what potential do emerging technologies (such as RFID, QR codes and smartphone apps) have for constructing, and managing multiple individual narrative trajectories within a single pervasive narrative world?
- what ethical considerations must be taken into account when constructing and monitoring pervasive experiences?
The group has been working on two new performances of The Memory Dealer - taking place in Nottingham and Bristol in early 2013 - which will make use of smartphone apps and specially composed music to explore the ways in which music can be employed to shape audience experience of, and engagement with, pervasive drama. The performances will be accompanied by audience research that will investigate how music can contribute to generating an immersive experience, and the role it plays in shaping agency - eg the choices made by audience members throughout the performance. The events will explore in particular how traditional models for music, especially taken from film music, work (or don’t work) for the new forms of drama made possible through mobile and locative technologies. It will also explore the ethical issues at stake with creating emotional manipulative narrative experiences and taking those experiences into public and semi-public spaces.