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Projects adapt - continuing community projects whilst social distancing

Journey Arrival was originally conceptualised as a participatory project, aiming at exploring the use of new immersive technologies to develop new ways of communicating and interpreting the stories of refugees in Coventry. In partnership with the arts organisation Ludic Rooms, participants would be invited to co-create immersive story responses to the theme of journeys and arrivals, which would result in an immersive audio storytelling experience.

The research team had to significantly revise the initial project plan, in light of the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, and adapting to new ways of living and working. It became clear to us that it would no longer be safe, practicable or appropriate to deliver a participatory project that engages with members of the public. This extraordinary situation had an effect on the co-creation element of the project, so we started looking for ways that would still allow us to deliver a meaningful project, focusing on the possibility of developing technology remotely.

Communication between the academics involved in the project and the partner organisation Ludic Rooms was crucial to effectively managing the new challenges. After discussing our options, we agreed that activity should shift into a R&D collaboration focusing on developing a rough prototype experience. Instead of collecting new testimonies, existing material will be used as a starting point for a new scripted proof-of-concept piece of AR audio work. This material will be sourced from the Crossing the Mediterranean Sea by Boat project led by Professor Vicki Squire and developed using remote collaboration tools over the coming months.

Ultimately, the resulting audio piece can be used as a demonstrator when initiating this project with participants in the future and provide insights for the project team in the use of a new immersive technology that could feed into the development of a larger project.

Dr Danai Mikelli and Professor Vicki Squire