SXSW panel session Tales for the internet of things & public art storytelling

Lava Lab was invited to join a panel session at SXSW interactive film (conference in Austin, TX) about Tales for the internet of things, together with Lisa Woods thirteen23, Sam Patteson, Shaun Dubuque and Heath Pecorino, who created a platform for interactive storytelling called Asunder.

Drawing of the SXSW panel by Ami Plasse @amirocks

SXSW panel session

Lava Lab’s Klasien van de Zandschulp joined this panel in a discussion about interactive storytelling for the public sphere. Klasien showed the SXSW audience the way of using non-linear storytelling in Lava Lab’s project together with Amsterdam Museum about unlocking the stories of the Golden Age, HearUsHere storytelling platform and other projects we worked on the last years using technology to tell stories in public space. In this session we wanted to inspire the audience by showing how technology like Bluetooth/iBeacons and GPS can be used for an interactive storytelling experience in public space.

In the panel we discussed how to create non-linear stories, what makes them different and complex in the creation process, how do these narrative patterns look like, and what is the difference in experience for the end user. When the end user tumbles upon stories while changing location or moving closer to an object, whether this is a public space outdoors or inside museum walls, the order is not predefined. Nevertheless, the stories can connect and refer to each other. This way of non-linear storytelling exists for years already but never seemed so relevant. New narrative patterns appear to arise but they are hard to define and more complex to work with. Using technology like iBeacons creates a lot of new opportunities in the field of storytelling. We can connect everything to radio signals and create apps that unlocks stories using these signals. The panel came to the conclusion that a diversity in skills, a bigger team, is necessary to create a qualified non-linear story in this way.

The panel discussed:

  • New narrative patterns of site-specific storytelling
  • Best practices for content that is site-specific, non-linear, and dispersed
  • Using stories + IoT reconnect us to our surroundings

Considering the turn out of this panel session, a big queue in front of the door, and the other sessions during SXSW with similar subjects who were overbooked, we noticed that this subject is popular at the moment and the audience is eager to learn.

Side event at thirteen23

Besides the panel session, we were involved in a side event invited by thirteen23. In their beautiful office we did a presentation titled ‘What is the frequency of (public) art?’. Using some examples of projects we have worked on we ended with the question: ‘What if we can connect to each art piece and open these up for all storytellers and app developers to create their own stories, games or informative apps for them?’. A nice turn out of people from very different backgrounds led to an interesting discussion.