What happens when the place where you're reading becomes the stage for the story? How can your location shape and alter the story you are hearing? How might writing, reading and the idea of the book itself change when we use technology to design stories, rather than just present them?
These questions are at the heart of a two year research programme that will see the Universities of the West of England, Bath Spa and Birmingham investigate the emerging field of Ambient Literature; situated literary experiences, delivered by pervasive computing platforms, that respond to the presence of a reader to deliver story. Managed by UWE's Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC) and awarded £800k by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the project, which launches in May, will combine expertise in the history of the book with research into the future of reading.
Led by Professor Jon Dovey and Dr Tom Abba of UWE Bristol, working with Bath Spa's Professor Kate Pullinger and Professor Ian Gadd, Birmingham University's Dr Matt Hayler, and Bristol tech partners Calvium, Ambient Literature will see traditional academic research inform the development of three original stories, to be delivered in new, experiential forms.
Jon Dovey, says, "The scope of the team's work is nothing short of designing and developing a new literary genre, in which pervasive technology delivers story and experience. We've been researching location-based computing and storytelling for some years but we now want to consolidate our experiments, and work with the publishing industry, to build a market for this new kind of storytelling."
Tom Abba adds, "It's important to remember that storytelling invokes landscape and has always made use of the world around us. This project combines academic research with publicly-tested commissions to see how we can shape storytelling in a networked, digital age."
The Ambient Literature project launches in London, Bristol and online in May 2016.
Explore further: First steps towards "Experimental Literature 2.0"