This page collects a variety of resources about locative hypertext narrative — electronic literature tied to specific places. This is a rich area of current research, spurred by the development of GPS devices, smartphones, and tablets.
This list is by no means either complete or comprehensive. We welcome additional resources. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Los Angeles, CA
Designed to be viewed through a tablet PC with GPS and headphones. Sounds and images drift in and out as the user walks, revealing stories of the railroads and telegraphs of the past.
A project by Alfie Dennen which took advantage of mobile applications to create a marking of a Chronometer that would span all of Great Britain. The aim was to draw the symbol on a digital map through real-world interactions.
Premiered in Sheffield, England
Game created by Blast Theory.
Mobile game in which participants try to outrun Blast Theory runners. Players can cooperatively exchange strategies and can also listen in on the Runners' audio stream as they communicate to try to track the players using the GPS technologies in their mobile phones.
Viru Center, Tallinn, Estonia
Project by Teri Rueb
The project explores gender and politics through shopping. While walking through a market area, the user hears stories from the Cold War to reveal similarities and differences in cultural identities.
Boston Harbor Islands
Project by Teri Rueb.
In this interactive walkthrough of Boston's Harbor Islands, Rueb uses GPS to bring the voices of former residents, facts and fiction, as well as mechanical sounds to life.
Created at Georgia Tech as a "handheld intelligent tour guide."
Cyberguide could be personalized to the user, bringing up demos, talks, and peronalized tour agendas.
Cyberguide measures position and orientation to give maps and directions. The creators already saw the application of interaction between Cyberguide units.
Cyberguide journal paper
Gregory D. Abowd, Christopher G. Atkeson, Jason Hong, Sue Long, Rob Kooper and Mike Pinkerton. Cyberguide: A Mobile Context-Aware Tour Guide. Baltzer/ACM Wireless Networks, Vol. 3. 1997.
Sue Long, Dietmar Aust, Gregory D. Abowd and Chris Atkeson. Cyberguide: Prototyping Context-Aware Mobile Applications. CHI'96 Short paper, December 1995.
Sue Long, Rob Kooper, Gregory D. Abowd, and Christopher G. Atkeson. Rapid Prototyping of Mobile Context-Aware Applications: The Cyberguide Case Study. In the Proceedings of the 2nd ACM International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (MobiCom'96), November 1996.
Created by Blast Theory.
Players create a figurine of themselves and are sent daily updates via SMS on the changing state of the game. The work is designed to play on the dichotomy of intimacy and anonymity in current media.
Oldenburg and Neuenkirchen, Niedersachen, Germany
Project by Teri Rueb.
As users walk through the gardens, they hear sounds associated with places in popular media. The goal of the project is to examine how we experience "place" and experience location and dislocation when we come to a new place.
Game created by Blast Theory.
Like Blast Theory's previous work, Uncle Roy All Around You, players in the real city of Adelaide interacted with players in a virtual city to cooperatively find Frank. Virtual players would traverse virtual streets to find an object, which Street Players then had to go find to reveal a clue about Frank's location.
Created by digital artist Teri Rueb.
As users walk through Boston Common and surrounding neighborhoods, users receive an audio narrative that reframes Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Murder on Beacon Hill is a mixed-reality iPhone narrative that is guided by a Google map of Boston. Readers follows a path through Boston, receiving pieces of the narrative as they approach various real-world structures.
A game of Manhattan created by ITP Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.
Work created by Somethin' Else.
Papa Sangre is an audio-only mobile thriller for the iPhone that calls itself "a video game with no video." Using only audio clues, players must move through the dark underworld, dodging monsters to save a loved one. Noises in the real world like footsteps can alert monsters to your presence.
Work by Blast Theory.
From the [murmur} Web site:
[murmur] is an archival audio project that has collected stories set in specific locations throughout Vancouver's Chinatown. At each of these locations, a [murmur] sign marks the availability of a story with a telephone number and location code. By using a mobile phone, people can listen to the story of that place while engaging in the full physical experience of being there. Some stories suggest that the listener walk around, following a certain path through a place, while others allow a person to wander with both their feet and their gaze. Stories will be available in both English and Chinese.
Since at least 1885, Chinatown has been the center of Chinese life in Vancouver. From the original Chinese labourers who worked in the industries that built the province to the artists, workers, professionals and young people that are moving back into the area, Chinatown contains a wealth of human history that people need to know about.
Walking through Chinatown, it's clear these buildings and alleys are a storehouse of memory and emotion. Yet, as the city progresses and changes, and as people move in and out of the area, these memories are either neglected and undervalued, or kept inside of the heads of people.
[murmur] wants to keep these stories alive and on the streets. Interesting things don't only happen at GM Place or Granville Island -- the city is full of stories, and some of them happen in parking lots and bungalows, diners and front lawns. The smallest, greyest or most nondescript building can be transformed by the stories that live in it. Once heard, these stories can change the way people think about a place and the city at large.
[murmur] was first launched in Toronto's Kensington Market in July 2003 (murmurtoronto.ca) -- it was developed at Habitat, the Canadian Film Centre's new media lab (www.cdnfilmcentre.com). Along with Chinatown, [murmur] is also launching along St. Laurent Boulevard in Montreal (murmure.ca).
Concept: Shawn Micallef, James Roussel, Gabe Sawhney
Advisor: Kaan Oran
Creative direction: Shawn Micallef
Technical direction: Gabe Sawhney
Research, recording and editing: Jason Lee, Doris Cheng
Graphic design: Melissa Taylor
Signage design: Isako Shigekawa
Chinatown illustration: Shane Whitehouse
Work created by Blast Theory.
Rider Spoke outfits cyclists with handheld computers, who must then use the computers to find predetermined hiding spots that have not been discovered by any other player. Once in a hiding spot, players must answer questions, find the hiding places of others, and interact with other clues and voices which draw them into new places.
any urban environment?
The user's movement through a city is tracked and treated as a musical composition.
From the project Web site:
Sonic City (2002-04) is a new form of interactive music instrument using the city as an interface. It enables users to create a real-time personal soundscape of electronic music by walking through and interacting with urban environments. Paths are considered as musical compositions and mobility through the shifting contexts of a city as a large scale musical gesture.
We have [designed], [implemented] and [evaluated] a wearable prototype. The system retrieves information about environmental context and user action, and maps it to the real-time audio processing of urban sounds, resulting in music heard through headphones. When wearing this system, one engages into a musical duet with the city: urban atmospheres, random encounters and everyday activities all participate in creating music as you are walking.
At the cross-road between urban exploration and experimental music making, Sonic City promotes the integration of everyday life settings and practices into personal forms of aesthetic expression with the help of Ubiquitous Computing.
Published by the Museum of London.
Users exploring London can either select a destination from Street Museum's London map or use the iPhone's GPS to locate the nearest image. Once an image is located, users hold a camera up and see the same London location as it appeared in the past.
Work by Teri Rueb. (Sound engineering by Peter Segerstrom)
Surfacing is a GPS-based "sound walk" through the Berlin Tiergarten. As the user walks through the garden, sounds emerge that "peel away" the layers of "sonic sediment." Organic and mechanical sounds are blended to suggest the man-made structures that might be hidden below the garden: sewage pipes, electrical lines, etc.
Karlsplatz Ubahn (subway station), Vienna
Project by Vienna Underground
The Third Woman is a mixed-delivery digital narrative that combined a mobile game, multiscreen narrative, and costume performances originally designed to be viewed in U-Bahn spaces. Later exhibitions of the piece used specially filmed interactive videos that allowed the audience to influence the video. The narrative examines issues of biological warfare, contagion, and desensitization of culture through the story of Line, a strange spiritual figure who has been contaminated by a sample of MIASMA she carried through customs for a terrorist organization.
premiered in London, England
Game created by Blast Theory
Street players using their mobile phones and online players wandering a virtual city cooperate to find Uncle Roy within the 60 minute time limit. A detailed account of game mechanics and play are available at the Uncle Roy All Around You Web site.
A homebrew game developed for the Nintendo DS that picks up WiFi signals from hotspots around the player and generates enemies in the game based on the signal.
In 2009, a port of the game was developed for the iPhone, but despite being nominated three times for the IGF Mobile 2009 awards, Apple rejected the game for the App Store.
For a list of Press references and more information, see:
Documentary game created by Blast Theory.
The game is designed to "connect two sites that although they are only five miles apart geographically are separated by a much larger cultural gulf" while also dealing with issues of understanding and how technology shapes are views of class and culture.
Participants interact online with teenage "runners," chatting with them and answering their questions. Participants must track down the runner, listen to their story, and be sufficiently engaging to enter a direct one-on-one conversation with the runner.
Demo given by Liza Daly to show Monocle ereader.
The browser transmits the readers latitude/longitude. The code then queries the Geonames database to get placenames. The code will continually check the reader's location; if the reader remains still, text indicating the protagonist's boredom appears. When the reader's position changes, new text appears.
System created by Gunnar Liestøl of the University of Oslo.
Augmented reality system that uses the iPhone's GPS device and its internal compass to create a high resolution graphics display of the past.
System created by Brian Greenspan et al at Carleton University.
The system allows for users to program a work in which readers would traverse a narrative that introduces different content based on location.
The system allows for authoring as well as reading.
Textopia is an open collection of locative narrative. Users are invited to geographically tag their stories through a wiki-based system. Users can then walk through the city and listen to texts associated with their current location through a mobile app.
Blast Theory is a group dedicated to the pursuit of using technologies--particularly mobile technologies--to create "new cultural spaces" for narrative and game creations.
The group has a long-standing relationship with the University of Nottingham.
Blast Theory's spatially-aware works include:
Can You See Me Now?
Uncle Roy All Around You
I Like Frank (2004)
Day of the Figurines
Prof Tanda's Guess-A-Ware
You Get Me
ITP Tisch School of the Arts (NYU)
Created PacManhattan in 2004.
Digital artist who has pioneered GPS and locative digital art installations. Currently Completing her doctoral degree at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
She is Professor of Media Study at the Department of Media Study at Buffalo (State University of New York).
Chewing Gum & Colored Wire: 2005
Core Sample: 2007
Elsewhere: Anderswo: 2009
Joliveau (2009) - Connecting Real and Imaginary Places through Geospatial Technologies
Cyberspace, Cybertexts, Cybermaps
Ryan, Marie-Laure. Cyberspace, Cybertexts, Cybermaps (2004).
Exploiting interactivity, influence, space and time to explore non-linear drama in virtual worlds
CRAVEN, M., TAYLOR, I., DROZD, A., PURBRICK, J., GREENHALGH, C., BENFORD, S., FRASER, M., BOWERS, J., Jää-ARO, K., LINTERMANN, B. and HOCH, M., 2001. Exploiting interactivity, influence, space and time to explore non-linear drama in virtual worlds. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Seattle, United States, 31 March - 5 April. pp. 30-37
Locating Play and Politics
Flanagan, Mary. Locating Play and Politics: Real World Games & Activism.
Locative Media as Socializing and Spatializing Practice
Galloway and Ward (2006) - Locative Media as Socializing and Spatializing Practive
More information available.
Narrative and Rhetorical Aspects of a Situated Simulation
Liestøl (2009) - Narrative and Rhetorical Aspects of a Situated Simulation
For more information, see Situated Simulations
On Locative Narrative
Rita Raley, On Locative Narrative, Genre 41 (3-4) 123-148
Physical Hypermedia: Augmenting Physical Material with Hypermedia Structures
Grønbæk, K., Ørbæk, P., Kristensen, J.F., and Eriksen, M.A. Physical Hypermedia: Augmenting Physical Material with Hypermedia Structures (2003)
In New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia (NRHM). Vol 9. Taylor & Francis, Abingdon, UK (pp. 5-34)
Precedents for the Design of Locative Media
Charitos (2009) - Precedents for the Design of Locative Media
a response by Anders Sundnes Løvlie is available
Setting the Stage with Location Based Technologies
Hansen, F.A., Kortbek, K. J. and Grønbæk, K. Mobile Urban Drama - Setting the Stage with Location Based Technologies (2008)
In Proceeding of the 1st Joint International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (26 – 29 November in Erfurt, Germany ). Springer Verlag
Gunnar Liestøl. International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies (iJIM), Vol 3 (2009).
Temporal trajectories in shared interactive narratives
BENFORD, S. and GIANNACHI, G. (2008) Temporal trajectories in shared interactive narratives, Proceeding of the twenty-sixth annual SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems. Florence, Italy:ACM
Anders Sundnes Løvlie. "Textopia: Designing a Locative Literary Reader." Journal of Location Based Services, Volume 3, Issue 4 December 2009 , pages 249 - 276.
Eaket, Chris. The Performativity of Language in Real and Imagined Spaces: Locative Media and the Production of Meaning
Walk This Way: Mobile Narrative as Composed Experience
Raley, Rita. "Walk This Way: Mobile Narrative as Composed Experience". Beyond the Screen. pgs 299-314. (2010)