The very first Narrative Strategies Symposium was held in 2008. At this point we have established the format to involve ourselves more deeply in all sorts of methods and strategies of experience-driven, trans-media story-telling.
This initial interest arose from the then current project TwixtVille, a development of a parallel city world that interacted with its visitors and told the stories of its imagined characters. To learn how we can make this story reacting meaningfully to the actions and concerns of the visitors without losing the plot, we invited a range of practitioners working with narratives that are dynamic in several ways. We have, among other fields, paid attention to Computer Games, Live Action Role-Playing, Alternative Reality Gaming and Live Cinema.
Even though TwixtVille never came to existence to its full planned extent, single strands and interests remain alive amongst our doing and activities, including the Narrative Strategies Symposium.
Years later, after two more editions of the symposium (one in Oslo 2009 and another in Funchal in 2012, with tangential meetings such as Blast Theory’s “Act Otherwise” series also emerging from this series during PARN), the 4th version, Narrative Strategies 14 was held on 8-9 November in Ponta do Sol, Madeira Island. Under the title “Prototyping the Intangible” Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute organized a two-day conference taking speculative design, future scenario planning and experience prototyping as some practices which benefit from prototyping the intangible into consideration and curated an impressive number of speakers sharing their ideas, knowledge and thoughts.
I most strongly recall the lecture given by Yvonne Rogers, director of the Interaction Centre at University College London and a professor of Interaction Design. She outlined several outcomes and concentrations of a scholarship she received – a (as she called it herself) “prestigious dream fellowship award,” given to her and a handful other researches in the UK by the British government. These awards ere created in order to “dream and think big”, hoping to inspire research and visions breaking with the rather conservative (at the time) UK research landscape.
Her lecture, right at the beginning of the symposium (after some basic intro of MITI as well as Future Fabulators project as such) was a well chosen kick-off. Where to get inspirations from as a central field of her investigations during the fellowship (leading her to work with several chefs and their cooking-styles) as well as consciously reframing aging as wisdom opened up a broad range of ways to think about design, interfaces and prototyping approaches as such.
More talks, more projects, more approaches followed, some of them more application-oriented, others more theoretical. To name just a few: Simone Ashby introducing a rapid prototyping approach known as speed dating, used in the project Citizen X, a mobile platform to empower citizens through social media applications community-aware, place-based computing systems; Alex Davies exemplified the prototyping – methods of his current work “The Very Near Future”, a spatial cinematic narrative ; Ricardo Melo scrutinizing if serendipity can be prototyped and if so, how.
There will be some documentary, including video as well as the slides from the talks, online soon. Watch out here.