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Reimagining reading: Ambient Literature project to investigate how we read

What happens when the place where you’re reading becomes the stage for the story? 

How can your location shape and alter the story you are hearing?

How might writing, reading and the idea of the book itself change when we use technology to design stories, rather than just present them?

A new research project led by Professor Jon Dovey and Dr Tom Abba of UWE Bristol, with Bath Spa’s Professor Kate Pullinger and Professor Ian Gadd, Birmingham University’s Dr Matt Hayler, and Bristol tech partners Calvium, will investigate the field of Ambient Literature. An emerging genre described as “a literary experience responsive to a reader’s situation, delivered or mediated by digital technology”.

Over two-years, traditional academic research will inform the development of three original stories, to be delivered in new, experiential forms.

“The scope of the team’s work is nothing short of designing and developing a new literary genre, in which pervasive technology delivers story and experience,” Jon Dovey says.

“We’ve been researching location based computing and storytelling for some years but we now want to consolidate our experiments, and work with the publishing industry, to build a market for this new kind of storytelling.”

Tom Abba adds, “It’s important to remember that storytelling invokes landscape and has always made use of the world around us. This project combines academic research with publicly tested commissions to see how we can shape storytelling in a networked, digital age.”

Managed by UWE’s Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC) and awarded £800k by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the project will combine expertise in the history of the book with research into the future of reading.

The Ambient Literature project launches in London, Bristol and online in May 2016.


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