Immersive digital storytelling: re-engaging with place

Authors: Siobhán Mcphee*, University of British Columbia
Topics: Social Geography, Immigration/Transnationalism, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: immersive, storytelling, spatial computing technology, place, augmented reality
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Council Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Storytelling is “the primary form by which human experience is made meaningful” (Polkinghorne, 1988:84). Storytelling has transformative possibilities which are mediated in place. The combination of imaginative and emotional storytelling with a range of spatial computing technologies creates imaginative possibilities for public place and re-engaging with place in different ways (Hartley & McWilliam 2009). Digital storytelling re-invigorates people’s relationships with place, bringing people together in shared experiences, making the invisible visible and bringing narrative experiences to new environments (Gakhar & Thompson, 2007). Using immersive augmented reality storytelling technology, I developed a digital storytelling experience based on the journeys of five Syrian refugees to Vancouver, Canada. The technology allows the user to be immersed in the voices of the refugees as they walked around their own neighbourhoods and streets where audio and text is triggered on their phones based on movement and user selection choices. The main aim of the experience is to enable users to form a connection to the feelings of the refugees, and the emotions associated with hearing a personal account of the refugees’ experiences. The parallel of a physical walk by the user of the digital story app will also form a connection with the physical journey that the refugees took to reach Vancouver. This paper is based on users’ responses to four short questions conducted after completing the experience. The questions focus on how they connected with distant places, the movement through space aspect and the experience of using the immersive technologies.

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