In this project, you will experiment with writing in augmented space.
Place as Medium, Not Subject
In essence, you will write a "walking tour" (or perhaps driving tour) that uses a place or space not as the subject of your writing, but as the medium.
For example, a piece of writing composed on a neighborhood from your childhood could be about the families, or sports, or the influence of a television show, or the Bush administration. But your piece of writing should not be about just the neighborhood, any more than an essay is about paper, or a movie is about film, or a song lyric is about sound. The locations of the place or space--and how you have the reader move among them--is simply the "vehicle" of your thoughts.
Purpose and Genre
Your script will do the job of a conventional, written genre: a magazine feature article, a piece of fiction, a poem, an autobiographical memoir, argumentative analysis, academic essay, etc. It will realize these purposes, however, in the medium of augmented space. Like the genres mentioned above, your script should have a unified purpose, effect, and tone that is intended to move the reader in a particular way: intellectually and/or emotionally. The purpose, tone, and genre of the piece should be expressed in a well chosen title.
Juggling ("Here/Now" & "Not Here/Not Now")
Your script should use the "juggling" technique to move between the "here and now" of the place and the "not here and now": that is, ideas, information, memories, etc. that are not apparent to an audience in that location. The dialogical juxtaposition of the "here/now" and "not here/now" is an important, synthetic means by which the place is used as a medium of writing for purposes larger than a simple tour. See the handout from Jerome Stern's Making Shapely Fiction.
For example, in Janet Cardiff's and George Bures Miller's "P.S. 1 Walk," Cardiff's voice leads the audience through a former public-school building, and directs them to walk "behind the stairs to the right.... Let's sit down here a minute." After instructing the audience to close their eyes, the sound effect of crickets rise up, and Cardiff remembers, "It was night, and I was walking through the barn to the house....." Sitting in the stairwell of an urban public school building in New York, we are mentally taken to the memory of a farm sometime in the narrator's past. Through physical direction, her voice (she says, "close your eyes" twice with an insistant cadence), and sound effects, she moves from the "Here/Now" to the "Not Here/Not Now").
Ultimately, you should imagine that the audience for your writing is someone who is actually in that place, and that your writing is being delivered through a GPS-powered handheld device. Such writing can therefore include not only words, but sounds, music, pictures, video, and anything else that can be rendered by a portable device like a smartphone or iPad.
For the purposes of the class, you will present this example of writing in augmented space via the old-fashioned, virtual space of a screen-based web page or hypertext of web pages. Keep in mind, though, that this is only a simulation, prototype, or model of what the actual, on-location experience of the writing would be.
We will use the following terms to describe the visual parameters of the simulation:
Place: the general area that defines your WAS Project as a whole
Location: a specific spot within the place where the audience will receive a particular part of the content. Locations are defined by a person's ability to perceive at any one moment.
View: the totality of what can be seen from any one location. The Google Street View below simulates a view the audience would have standing in such a location.
Gaze: what is seen in a view when particular directions, distances, landmarks, characteristics are called into focus.
To start, we will create this piece in a relatively low-tech way by creating a web page into which you will insert a set of images or interactive panoramas from Google Maps' Street View. You will then compose the augmented layer which will be heard, read, seen, watched in that location, being explicit about where the visitor/audience/reader (VAR?) is to look and move. This script should be recorded and mixed with sound effects, music, dialogue, etc.--whatever is appropriate to your purpose. You can also provide links to additional documents and resources that the hand-held device could make available to the audience in the locations.
- a set of web pages using a combination images, maps, interactive street views, text, and/or other documents which suggest the experience of an audience actually in that place and accessing your layer of augmented space. Through writing and design, the web site should make very clear that the online pages are only a description of the actual, onground experience of the project.
The home page should explicitly explain the nature of the augmented space experiment (see the sample home page) and make clear what the place is and where it is located.
Each of the internal pages should present a mocked-up sample of what would be seen on an Internet-enabled cell phone or iPad similar to the one below.
- Each internal page should include a working audio track for each location, view, or gaze, provided via a plug-in player inserted on each web page, which guides us through/around the place and provides the augmented layer of writing
- Each page should include the script of the words heard on the audio track, including cues for sound effects, music, etc.
- you should submit a hard copy of the script for the whole project with clear indications of what portions of the writing go with which locations, views, gazes.
- a 500-word commentary. In addition to fulfilling the guidelines for commentaries generally, your commentary should include
1. a clear statement describing the "here now/not here now" juxtaposition your project achieves, and what your intended effect and meaning is for this montage effect
2. at least two quotations from Lev Manovich's "The Poetics of Augmented Space," used to contextualize this project, cited and documented using MLA format
3. a passage comparing or contrasting a technique used in your project to some aspect(s) of a tour or walk that we discussed in class, or one of the Cardiff/Miller audio walks that you found instructive or inspirational. This tour/walk should also be cited and documented using MLA format
- Iowa 80 Walcott Tour (sample conventional tour)
- Kroll and John Mulaney - Walking Tour of NYC (example of tour used as comedy routine)
- Cardiff/Burnes Miller Walks (sample "audio walks")
- Sample Layout Page (inside)
- Sample Layout Home Page ("index.html")
- Prospectus (Form)
- Script Excerpt and Dialogical Meaning (Form)
- Introducing Layar (YouTube)
- Domestic Robocop (YouTube)
- Discover Your City (Layar, YouTube)
- Fortworthology: Epsiode 56: Google Street View Tour of Paris (new urbanism blog)
- "It's My Home Town" (article written for the Florida State University newspaper The Flambeau, which refers to the location above)
- Tales of Things (Annie Lennox Dress)
- "Juggling" from Jerome Stern's Making Shapely Fiction
- Checklist of Criteria