Journeryer's Guidebook

E. Whittaker & J. Brocklehurst 2016 Journeyer’s Guidebook, illustrated book accompanying the iPhone app

Diagramming a species “…one can make exact experiments upon uniform diagrams; and when one does so, one must keep a bright lookout for unintended and unexpected changes thereby brought about in the relations of different significant parts of the diagram to one another. Such operations upon diagrams, whether external or imaginary, take the place of the experiments upon real things that one performs in chemical and physical research.” (Peirce 1906: 493) [1]

Imagine picking up a pen and noting down on the back of an opened, but clean white envelope, the words ‘expanded narrative’. It’s the name I use to refer to a broad and inclusive family of storytelling practices that challenge the form and experience of the book. These types of works can be analogue or digital, multi or transdisciplinary, and range from concrete poetry through to tabletop role-playing games, from participatory theatre to “puzzle novellas” [2] and locative narrative.

It’s the name I use to refer to a broad and inclusive family of storytelling practices that challenge the form and experience of the book. These types of works can be analogue or digital, multi or transdisciplinary, and range from concrete poetry through to tabletop role-playing games, from participatory theatre to “puzzle novellas” [2] and locative narrative.

Locative narrative, a term attributed to Jeremy Hight [3] can be defined as stories that are experienced in specific locations, delivered via mobile devices, and often, but not always, heard on headphones. We might think of Homing, created this year by Jen Southern and Sam Thulin [4] with the Lancashire Infantry Museum, or the National Archive’s situated oral histories of wartime secret service operatives, Spies, Spooks and Videotape [5].

Underneath expanded narrative, you imagine writing, ‘locative narrative’, from which you draw a satisfyingly heavy black line, and add to locative narrative its species, ‘ambient literature’.

Ambient literature, in fact, should be decorated with some small dashes to give it the semblance of flashing on and off, signifying its ‘in-progress’ status; a field becoming…

From this vantage point, the landscape spreads gloriously outwards, populated with many antecedents, including Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Teri Rueb, Blast Theory, Valentina Nisi, Duncan Speakman and Circumstance, to identify just a few. The authorial intention to mediate relations between the reader as a participant and their environment, with objects, people and features from the physical world depicted, symbolised or inferred within the text, sound or interface, perhaps indicates broad axes of the practice.

I am interested in questions around experience, how it is possible for us to have knowledge of the world and how our interpretation of events may be affected, within and below the level of our awareness. William James’ [6] radical empiricist philosophy explains that what things are known-as, are context dependent relations to ourselves and that far from being fixed, are highly mutable.

Building on a body of situated narrative smartphone apps, developed with my collaborator James Brocklehurst, I have been working with guided imagining, using techniques from hypnotic induction [7] and the practice of shamanic journeying [8] to devise the form and content of narrative. The result was an initial experiment, Journeyer’s Guidebook, an iOS iPhone app and accompanying illustrated book, that was showcased in September at the DRHA2016 and the Brighton Digital Festival.

Journeyer’s Guidebook [9] takes the participant on two parallel guided experiences, one beginning at the Jubilee Library, a physical walk to the Pavilion Gardens, and the other an imagined walk through the medium of an illustrated book, read inside the library. The form of the shamanic journey begins with the Axis Mundi, the entry point in this world, and proceeds through the aural depiction of a tunnel, a liminal space that marks the boundary with another world. Arrival in the garden signifies the beginning of non-ordinary reality. The journeyer addressed in the second person, is invited to explore the garden, via their own route, before enacting a personal divination ritual and a contemplation on interpreting its meaning. Both journeys are accompanied by binaural spatial sound that in the garden heightens the ambient sounds and is supplemented with tropical birds. Inside the library, the sound depicts the illustrated world. The inside journey begins with attention focusing techniques directed towards the body and the page, whereas the outside journey directs the participant to towards noticing their relations to the environment. The participant retraces their steps back through the tunnel before embarking on the alternative journey.

Our usual process of development involves a number of iterations to really hone the ideas and their implementation. Journeyer’s Guidebook script, interaction, sound design, field recordings, native app development, illustrations and book production were developed over a period of four weeks – a mighty fast turnaround. The feedback so far has generally been positive, but as is usually the way, testing on the ground presents many possibilities for further development. One of the themes that emerged from the last Ambient Literature seminar was the topic of creating situated literary works that can be experienced in many similar locations. The challenge is to write the world of the story so it pertains to participant’s environment, perhaps not wherever they may be, but in types of places the participant might be able to access, irrespective of their continent. This requires a particular approach to writing and interaction design that has the potential to open up ambient literature to the broader publishing industry. The next version of Journeyer’s will be rewritten to begin exploring this direction…

Emma Whittaker

References

[1] Peirce, C. S. ‘Prolegomena to an Apology for Pragmaticism’. The Monist. Vol. 16, No. 4 (October, 1906), pp. 492-546 Published by: Hegeler InstituteStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27899680Accessed: 14-03-2015 18:26 UTC

[2] Simogo (2016 ) Device 6 v.1.2 [iOS & Android Application] Retrieved from: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/device-6/id680366065?mt=8 [3] Hight, J. (2006) ‘Views from Above: Locative Narrative and the Landscape.’ In Wild

[3] Hight, J. (2006) ‘Views from Above: Locative Narrative and the Landscape.’ In Wild Naturea and the Digital Life. Special Issue of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac Vol 14, No 7-8, p.2

[4] Southern, J. & Thulin, S (2016). Homing. [installation and app]. Harris Library, Preston. 23rd May – 13th November 2016 [5] The National Archives (2016) Spooks, Spies and Videotape – London’s Secret War [iOS & Android Application] Retrieved

[5] The National Archives (2016) Spooks, Spies and Videotape – London’s Secret War [iOS & Android Application] Retrieved from: https://itunes.apple.com/de/app/spooks-spies-videotape-londons/id1073776615?l=en&mt=8

[6] James, W. (1909) The Meaning of Truth. New York: Longmans Green and Co.pp.18-19

[7] Weitzenhoffer, A. M. and Hilgard, E. R. (1996) Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale: Forms C (Modified by John F. Kihlstrom). Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.p.8

[8] Harner, M. (1992) The Way of the Shaman. Harper Collins pp.68

[9] Whittaker, E. & Brocklehurst, J. (2016). Journeyer’s Guidebook. [iOS Application]. Retrieved from: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/journeyers-guidebook/id1146283679?mt=8

[8] Harner, M. (1992) The Way of the Shaman. Harper Collins pp.68 [9] Whittaker, E. & Brocklehurst, J. (2016). Journeyer’s Guidebook. [iOS Application]. Retrieved from: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/journeyers-guidebook/id1146283679?mt=8

 

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