The Narrative and Emerging Technology Lab (NET) explores experiential storytelling through new forms of narrative delivery and audience interaction
Based across the Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries and the Centre for Media Research at Bath Spa University, the Narrative and Emerging Technologies Lab (NET) explores the role of emerging technologies in developing new forms of experiential storytelling and audience engagement, from digital fiction, audio and performance through to film, games and immersive media technologies.
Other themes include expanded performance, amplified publishing and the ethics of technology, which is key to our research, including issues around gender and embodiment in VR, AR, algorithmic bias in cultural works using AI, and others.
Bringing together academics and creative practitioners from Bath Spa University, residents from The Studio at Palace Yard Mews, plus PhD students and Research Fellows, NET is closely linked to a number of major creative industry R&D partnerships in the South West. These include the £46 million MyWorld project and the £6.8 million Bristol+Bath Creative R+D programme, as well as initiatives such as Women Reclaiming AI, Immersive Promotion Design, and the Shextreme Film Festival.
Building on the work done through the field-defining Ambient Literature research project (2016-2018), NET is also a key collaborator on the Paper Nations project, Beyond the Book, and draws together work done on narrative across other Bath Spa University research centres and groups, including it's partner centre, the Centre for Media Research as we as the Centres for Creative Writing and Making Books.
NET has a cohort of six PhD students working on digital writing projects, including narrative, embodiment and gender in virtual reality, and smartphone fiction.
Funded as part of the Digital Placemaking pathway within the Bristol+Bath Creative R+D Partnership, Trace is a locative audio work set and delivered in Bath. The output takes the form of a dérive through the city centre, punctuated with song and binaural audio recordings for the purpose of generating affect.
Each route is tied to a particular region of the city and time of experience – curated by the lead artist to enhance the evocation of the tone under consideration. Conversation AI is also used to drive text-based elements that organise the sound components into coherent short stories that trace the movements of fictionalised Bath city inhabitants. These narratives are designed to engage the user in a two-way interaction to heighten the intimate, individual nature of the work.
Funded as part of the Expanded Performance pathway within the Bristol+Bath Creative R+D Partnership, Sharon Clark is developing an innovative prototype based on an augmented reality umbrella that communicates storyworld and narrative mood, functioning as an immersive lead-in for audiences about to attend The Undrowned, a theatre production produced by Sharon’s immersive theatre company, Raucous.
Funded as part of the Expanded Performance pathway within the Bristol+Bath Creative R+D Partnership, Astrid Breel is partnering with Coney to develop a new toolkit for better understanding how to communicate with audiences about the needs and expectations for participatory and experiential performance.
Agnieszka Janik McErlean
Funded as part of the Amplified Publishing pathway within the Bristol+Bath Creative R+D Partnership, Agnieszka Janik McErlean is conducting psychology and audience research into the role of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), a cross-sensory phenomenon in which individuals experience a pleasant tingling sensation which usually originates on the scalp and spreads throughout the body in response to specific audio-visual triggers, in new forms of digital communication. The project examines how ASMR-experiencers respond to various realistic videos and audio recordings of human (whisper, tapping, handling crinkly objects) and non-human sounds (e.g. rain drops or bird song).
Associated projects include The Writing Platform, a website unique in its focus on providing digital knowledge for writers across both industry and academia; MIX, the biennial international conference on creative writing and technology; and the International Journal of Creative Media Research, a journal devoted to pushing forward the approaches to publishing practice-based research. In addition, NET has on-going relationships with trade publishers including Audible, Hachette, Pan MacMillan and Pottermore.