How can presence, physical space, and human intervention combine with technology to tell a story? And how do you make the experience of connecting to others through technology feel more human?
We explored these questions at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Interactive Playground, collaborating with keynote speaker Lucy McRae on an aural experiment that allowed the festival audience to weave their own narrative in a spatial, non-linear way.
Through the coordination of wearable devices and people, participants discovered a three-part story that explored themes of vulnerability in technology and the future of our existence. Actors wore Relators, large dome-shaped helmets that shared the narrative with the audience, while festival-goers roamed the playground in oversized custom headphones called Receivers. When a Receiver approached a Relator, their proximity unlocked parts of the story. In the end, every participant experienced their own version of the narrative based on their unique interactions with the actors.
While headphones in public spaces typically become barriers between people and their surroundings, in “Here to There” the Receivers enabled the audience to be present and connected to their environment and to other participants. Rather than integrating the technology with the goal of making it discreet, we exaggerated it, turning it into something for people to rally around instead of hide behind.
The audience described the experience of “Here to There” as having a “superpower in the narrative sense,” something akin to a surreal “stream of consciousness.” One gentleman told us, “It extends something we as humans normally do: we sit next to someone and listen to their conversation.”
Our team was surprised to find that the experience of the relationship between Relators and Receivers was new for people, a silent interaction that promoted intimacy and connectivity. Even more interesting: some members of the audience preferred to be Relators. They wanted to have the power to deliver stories to others. For more information about this project, visit: http://secondstory.com/project/here-to-there