Riot 1831@ Nottingham Castle is a year long R&D project that began in October 2013 and is in partnership with Nottingham City Museums and Art Galleries, Nottingham Trent University (School of Art and Design), Hot Knife Digital Media Ltd and University of Nottingham. It is supported by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts – Nesta, Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Native is the magazine of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts which features our learning insights and interviews with partners.
The exhibition aims to provoke debate, support learning about protest and rebellion through time and encourage participation by creating a new, exciting way to tell the story of a night the Castle was attacked in 1831. The project is developing a mobile Augmented Reality (AR) cross platform app that offers visitors an active role in creating their narrative experience. It uses object tracking technology to superimpose onto the live objects -3D realtime computer environments, animated first-person performances and sounds onto museum objects that allows the visitors to simultaneously interact and experience the events of 1831 at the exhibition.
Virtual and the real objects
Like many heritage sites the existing “history offer” is passive, word-based and can be challenging for visitors to relate the presented information to the physical site. An integrated digital approach will encourage more sophisticated engagement with the collection. The curatorial relationship between the digital and physical exhibition are carefully considered, the AR app was developed in parallel with the re-design of a new exhibition to bring a new perspective to the historical collection. To create an intermingling of the virtual and the real objects, the past and the present, iPads are dispersed throughout the space, positioned in front of paintings and objects in display cabinets making the gallery accessible to all visitors.
Unlike many AR projects this new approach places storytelling at its heart by integrating traditional theatrical and cinematic narrative to develop an understanding of the relationships between the ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ objects. The museum will benefits from measuring how using AR can encourage new audience participation in the acquisition of knowledge and increase dwell-time through involvement, in real-time interaction, the sense of discovery and encouragement to play.
The researchers app bring distinctive methodologies to the project. The process of working on the project and the feedback generated by studying visitors’ interactions with the exhibit will produce a range of academic outputs in scenography, games, and film disciplines, leading to a deeper understanding of how the integrated approach to narrative in AR can enhance an audience experience. Human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work fields also contributing to understandings of interactions with technology in cultural settings.