Locative Narrative: Creating Contexts for Supposition in Spatially Distributed Museums

Whittaker, Emma and Brocklehurst, James (2016) Locative Narrative: Creating Contexts for Supposition in Spatially Distributed Museums. In: National Archives Conference: Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities 2016, 10-12 October 2016, The Lowry, Salford.

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Abstract / Summary

Audio guides and games have long been staple modes of interpretation in museums. The medium of locative narrative, defined here as participatory site-specific story experiences that are heard on headphones, offers alternative modes of engagement with archives and collections where the visitor becomes a participant in an unfolding drama [1]. Museums become the site of arts interventions, taking collections ‘outside of heritage’.

Informed by cognitive research in auditory perception [2], [3], and building on locative media research in outdoor environments [4], [5], The Lost Index: NATMUS (2015) [6], situated in Copenhagen at The National Museum of Denmark and the DieselHouse museum, explores how participants can experience story across spatially distributed locations.

The narrative is communicated in a series of phone calls from different characters across the sites. Techniques to focus attention and verbal suggestion [7] are used to influence interpretation of the environment. The science-fiction genre invites participants to engage in imagining and offers a rationale for the perceptual transformation of the buildings and the city.

Sound is a key aspect to linking the locations. Compositions in binaural audio simulate the aural qualities of the fictional places, plotted temporally and spatially within the museum rooms. Movement responsive sound is triggered by participants’ own smartphones via the novel use of Bluetooth ‘iBeacons’.

Participants, in the role of protagonist, move simultaneously within the story’s locations and museum. The confluence of the existent world and narrative representations is an often-reported feature of “mixed reality” [8] experiences [9]. The auditory dimensions can appear to subtlety change, affecting interpretation of sounds as live, recorded or imagined. While there are many factors that may affect a participant’s response to spatially distributed narrative across museums, an approach is put forward here for creating contexts for supposition.


[1] Whittaker, E. (2015), ‘Inside the snow globe: Pragmatisms, belief and the ambiguous objectivity of the imaginary’, Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research, 13: 3, pp. 275–284

[2] Denham, S. & Winkler, I. (2015) ‘Auditory perceptual organization’. In. Wagemans, J. The Oxford Handbook of Perceptual Organisation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 601

[3] Moore, B. C. J. (2012) Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing. 6th Edition. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing

[4] Benford, S. Crabtree, A. Reeves, S. et al (2006) The Frame of the Game: Blurring the Boundary between Fiction and Reality in Mobile Experiences. CHI 2006, April 22–27, 2006, Montréal, Québec, Canada.

[5] Reid, J. (2008) ‘Design for Coincidence: Incorporating Real World Artefacts in Location Based Games’. DIMEA’08, Athens, September 10–12.

[6] Whittaker, E. & Brocklehurst, J. R. (2015) ‘The Lost Index: NATMUS’ [iOS Application]. Apple Inc. [https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-lost-index-natmus/id1058419473?mt=8]

[7] Weitzenhoffer, A. M., Higard, E. R. Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale: Forms C Modified by John F. Kihlstrom. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press (1999)

[8] Milgram, P. & Kishino, F. (1994). ‘Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays’. IEICE Transactions on Information and Systems. Vol. E77-D, No.12 December 1994. <http://etclab.mie.utoronto.ca/people/paul_dir/IEICE94/ieice.html>

[9] Montola, M., Stenros, J. & Waern, A. (2010) Pervasive Games, Theory & Design. Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Technology > Digital Works > Apps
Technology > Digital Works > Digital Games
Communication > Media > Digital Media
Technology > Digital Works
Philosophy & Psychology
Music > Sound Art
Courses by Department: Academy of Innovation and Research > Research
Depositing User: Emma Whittaker
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2019 13:23
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2019 13:55
URI: https://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/3180


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