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Remodeling Literary Forms through Digital Media – Bath Spa University

Exploring new models of narrative production

The Remodelling Literary Forms through Digital Media project explores new models of narrative production for a branch of the UK creative industries.

The project

The collaborative Remodelling Literary Forms through Digital Media project, comprising the practice-as-research work of Professor Kate Pullinger and Sharon Clark, grew out of the Centre’s focused collaboration with Bath Spa’s Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries and its Narrative and Emerging Technology Lab (NET).

NET is a research group that engages specifically with the shifts afforded by new forms of narrative delivery and audience interaction, from digital fiction and live performance through to virtual and augmented reality. The research of Pullinger, a novelist, and Clark, a playwright, aims to explore new models of narrative production for a branch of the UK creative industries, in particular:

  • how to create new polymorphic narrative forms based on the fusion of analogue and digital spaces;
  • how to develop and effectively share new creative practice toolkits around this theme;
  • how to support writers in the building of new creative alliances and practices with other artists and technologists;
  • how best to cultivate cross-platform audiences.

Clark's contribution

Clark’s contribution to the project manifests as two original theatre productions – The Stick House (2015) and Ice Road (2017) – both of which were made through the immersive theatre company, Raucous, founded by Clark. Raucous is a network of over 25 artists, designers, composers and digital technologists. The two productions investigated how immersive theatre narratives could harness emerging digital media technologies to deliver a more immediate and emotive experience for a live audience. Both pieces fused live performance, projection mapping, original musical composition, smell, robotics and spatial sound. Crucial to both of these works was the design and development of ‘totems’ – individually designed handheld object-based media that respond to critical narrative and emotional beats within the storytelling.

Pullinger's contribution

Meanwhile, Pullinger’s side of the project explores how the short story format can be remodelled through digital media technology. Breathe (2018) is a ghost story designed for and delivered through a smartphone that responds to the individual reader’s presence by internalising the world around them. Using APIs – application programming interfaces – the story leverages mobile data about the reader, including place, weather and time, in order to create an experience that is both personal and uncanny. Breathe was commissioned as part of the AHRC-funded Ambient Literature project (2016-2018), with partners from the University of the West of England, the University of Bristol, Bath Spa University and the University of Birmingham. Breathe is at the absolute forefront of pushing forward research and innovation into literature and storytelling for the mobile phone. Read Pullinger’s journal article on Breathe in the International Journal of Creative Media Research.

The Remodelling Literary Forms through Digital Media project will be submitted as an Impact Case Study for REF2021 under Unit of Assessment 34.

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