stamp the mole This is were everyone starts, the mediascape that downloads with the software. It was wonderful watching a portly and dignified middle age academic running about a park with headphones on, stamping the ground, with a big grin. This mediascape was obviously chosen because it gives a quick, simple, and fun glimpse of the possibilities of mediascape.

Always something somewhere else is Duncan Speakman’s beautifully crafted mediascape based on a walk through a city. A soft and gentle voice asks you to contemplate some elementals - water, stone, a tree, glass. Each item is accompanied by a little dreamlike philosophy, some wanderings and wonderings. As you find each object in the story, you mark it, so at the end of the walk, Duncan can take you back to revisit each of the places you have been. A simple but powerful structure.

“always something somewhere else is a generative mediascape that creates a temporary map in a location as the user is asked to seek out certain base materials such as glass, stone, and water. As they reach each material they hear the beginning of a fictional narrative about another person in a far off location standing next to the same material. As the map is created the user can return to the points they marked to hear the stories fold in on themselves and conclude. Taken from the description of the mediascape.

I visited Tom Bennett of Interactive Places at the Spike Island studios, to talk to him about his mediascapes based around Bristol Docks; bristol harbour. Tom has created two stories based in Victorian England that take you on a circular walk from the Watershed media centre, down the docks, across the ferry by the Great Briton and back. On the walk actors enact a story, while you hear the sounds of the wood yards, warehouses, and other sounds of industrial Bristol as it was in the mid 19th century. I trailed these mediascapes for Tom a day or two before he unleashed them on the public over the Easter holiday. At the time there were still some teething problems, such as unreliable links, and uneven levels. But they were an enjoyable experience. Aimed at children I would think, and I wonder if they really have the power to engage young people. This is one of my main wonders with mediascape; to what extent can they engage. Even with Duncan’s wonderful always something somewhere else it was not easy to maintain concentration, to keep myself from drifting out of the mimetic of the mediascape, with the real world happening all around. Tom’s mediascapes, are very like a film, and mediascape like this needs to have a similar production company behind it.


Ghosts of Nendrum
is a mediascape that did have the production values mentioned above, in that it was created by the BBC in Northern Ireland. The idea is fantastic. It is based around an iron age fort, and a search for the sites of nine archeological finds. As one nears one of these finds, a ghost will tell the story of the object found at that spot. This mediascape is a clever combination of treasure hunt and guided tour, educational and fun.

Letters to America is another mediascape based on docks, this time the Chichester Quay in Belfast, telling the story of emigration to America. It is with this sort of story that mediascape can become a very powerful and fun educative tool, both as a presentation tool, and, because it is so simple for children to create their own guided tours based on history, geography, etc. Constance Flouriot was instrumental in another mediascape project in Belfast; Titanic “Together we have been building Titanicscapes around the Thompson Dry dock in Belfast where the Titanic was fitted out. The students have researched, collected, created and located sounds and images to explore the history of the Titanic and the Shipyards.” Quote from Turning Alien Spaces into Informed Places

belfast......................... belfast2
these are two photographs that I took during the Mscape conference in Belfast, in a beautiful new stainless and glass shopping and arts centre, build were once Harland and Wolfe build ships. Indicative perhaps of the cultural shift of the past century, from industrial giant to an economy of consumer services.

Danger UXB is the mediascape that most engaged both my own students and the teenagers that I worked with in the Sydney Gardens. It has a good combination of action, excitement and challenge. It is based around a simple game, whereby one is searching for unexploded bombs. As you find them, you are working against the clock to defuse them before they blow you up. It has aspects of a classic computer game, with the overlay of a real environment, and some real excitement.

Pirates is another game like the one above, with a greater element of fantasy or story. This took some learning before the game started to roll, and proved t be one of the difficulties of mediascape, especially with an un-anchored game; to capture the imagination quickly enough, and then to maintain this interest. Hide and seek type games work well, as they sit somewhere inbetween the virtual and the real.

Snakes and Ladders I had this brainwave during one of my morning walks; creating a game of snakes and ladders in the Sydney Gardens, as a fun introduction to mediascape, so I was a little annoyed when I discovered that it has already been done. I shall have to do ‘grandmothers steps’ instead. Games and quizzes have an added ability to enthral. The work that Simon Games are doing with locative technology is very exciting.

Teri Rueb Teri has produced a number of mediascapes, mostly anchored, and mostly in the US , although also in Europe. I have not been able to try them, but I have been able to look at them on line. Her work involves walks, sound scapes, story telling, happening, with layers of overlapping sound. There is a book that features some of her work Second Person Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media

Toby Butler is another artist creating mediascape “Toby Butler is the creator of Memoryscape, ‘sound walks’ that invite you to experience the hidden history of a place by listening to the memories of inhabitants, both historical and contemporary, as you walk through it.”

Halloween Walk in San Jose This mediascape seems to lend itself to the medium, overlaying ghost stories on top of a guided walk, as with the Ghosts of Nendrum mentioned above. This combination of the real, the virtual, and the imagined seems to be a combination that really suites mediascape.

Yosemitie Guided Walk
This mediascape is another guided tour. I have not as yet tried either this nor the one above, but I have downloaded them, and I am planning try them this summer, when I am in California for the Adobe Education Leaders summer conference.

As I was searching through the Apple app story I came across and iPhone scape, a tour of Florence - although the iPhone SDK is too complex any other than the experienced programmer, I am looking forward to time when the mscape software will be sophisticated enough to output to these devices too. My main problem with mediascape has been the unreliability and poor screen definition of the ipaqs that I have been using.