Narrative Maps

Published February 11, 2019


At what point in our relationship with a character does narrative emerge?

For some background, I watch documentary content on youtube, and have noticed a trend in my viewing habits: I will start watching videos from a particular presenter because I am drawn to the content. As I watch more videos from that presenter, my interest will shift from the content of the videos to the presenter themselves. The context of the videos remains one of ‘facts’ and ‘educational’ content, but story emerges through my familiarity with the presenters and their particular style. A narrative is hidden for those willing to take the time to learn how to spot it. With this project, I was curious if I could tell stories without explicitly calling attention to their presence.

Could a spacialized experience with divergent paths support narrative?

While on Janet Cardiff’s “Her Long Dark Hair” Soundwalk, I noticed my attention drawn to one of the ancillary characters - a man who stopped to comment that one of the photos looked like his mother. I wanted to follow him and hear his story. Could a ‘soundwalk’ support multiple intertwined stories? Could a ‘choose your own adventure’ style soundwalk use your physical location to establish which story you currently heard? Could this become a platform in which people can record stories in space and time?


Experiment

For this experiment, I recorded audio as I commuted on a bike for several days in a row. During one ride, I talked with a friend on a similar commute. During all of the other rides, I tried to maintain a somewhat stream-of-consciousness narration.

Was this successful? In its current form, audio tracks are presented on a map. In an ideal form, your physical location would determine which narration would be available to you.

Technologies

This was built using MapboxGL and p5.js, using data from my Google Location History.