For the past three months – alongside my PhD fieldwork, various conference and event contributions, and running my location-based storytelling game Canterbury in 3 Words – I’ve been working hard on a brand-new creative project.
Today sees the launch of my locative audiowalk game, The Gates to Dreamland.
Set around the boundaries of the Dreamland amusement park in Margate, The Gates to Dreamland explores how interpreting our surroundings figuratively, through imagination and motion, can connect us to different places, times, stories and circumstances, finding resonance within our own lives.
The walk tells the story of Italian scientist Galileo Galilei’s journey towards publishing his final book: the obstacles he faced, his eyesight and bodily health failing, and the changes in perspective that entailed.
Here’s a short blurb:
It’s 1634, and Italian scientist Galileo Galilei is under house arrest for heresy, after illustrating that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Bodily health and eyesight failing, he must transcend his situation to continue his scientific work. Follow Galileo’s journey as he attempts to write one final book that will change the study of science forever. A journey that will transform his perspective on the world, connecting distant places and times through imagination and motion.
Find echoes of Galileo’s words at the gates to Dreamland. Six lost diary entries that reveal a path forward – a process of overcoming adversity and encountering your surroundings with a different lens. The recordings will appear on the map as you approach the locations of each gate. Your journey begins at Dreamland’s Gate A.
The Gates to Dreamland was made as part of A Different LENS, a collaborative story mapping project set in Margate, Kent. It explores how we overcome challenging events in our lives, through responses by several Kent-based artists to the writing of visually-impaired authors. Material produced by the artists for the map engages with methods of making the inaccessible accessible through creative means. The map can be accessed via mobile – with users navigating its content by walking at the relevant sites in Margate – or via PC for those unable to walk there physically.
Soon, I’ll be posting here about how The Gates to Dreamland was made, delving into how my contribution to A Different LENS came about, the ideas and inspirations behind the design, the process of creating the audiowalk material itself, and how it connects to my other work.
The project is also likely to develop further. Due to time limitations and my other work commitments, I wasn’t able to incorporate music and soundscaping into the audio as I had planned. Eventually, I’m aiming to compose short pieces to complement the spoken words you hear on the walk.
But for now, you can enjoy this first version of The Gates to Dreamland yourself by visiting the A Different LENS map here, on mobile or PC.
This audiowalk game is primarily designed to be experienced by walking at the relevant sites in Margate. When you load the map on mobile, only the first of my six entries is visible on the map, and you must discover the remainder for yourself by finding the rest of Dreamland’s gates in person.
This way, you can gauge the full extent of connections between the words you hear and what you can sense in person at the locations. The trip would also give you the opportunity to explore Margate further and enjoy the other artists’ contributions to the map for A Different LENS.
When accessing the map via PC, none of the entries are hidden from view. If you navigate to the relevant locations for my walk in Google Streetview, you could explore the relationships between what you hear and what you observe; perhaps even the place where you’re listening from.
But if you’re local, or if there’s a chance you could be in Margate anytime over the coming months, then I would strongly encourage you to experience The Gates to Dreamland in situ and explore the town using the A Different LENS map.
One final thing to mention.
As part of A Different LENS, walking artist and writer Sonia Overall is coordinating a series of Distance Drifts: synchronised walks that take place on Twitter each Sunday at 10am. Using the hashtag #DistanceDrift, Sonia will be posting prompts for playful walking that connect to the different entries on the map for A Different LENS.
You can participate in #DistanceDrift wherever you are, and walk in whatever way is possible for you – indoors, outdoors, on wheels, assisted, etc. If you can, share stories and images of your responses to the prompts using the hashtag.
This Sunday (27th September), #DistanceDrift will include a response to The Gates to Dreamland! It would be wonderful to see some of you there on Twitter.
I must end with a huge thanks to Elspeth (Billie) Penfold for her sterling work in curating A Different LENS and inviting me to participate. It is not an easy job to coordinate between several individual artists, organisations and event organisers, arrange regular group meetings, write (and succeed!) with funding applications, advertise the project, upload and edit creative content, and contribute to the map creatively herself. I’m particularly grateful for her patience as I juggled my contribution with my academic work and other commitments, and her persistent reminders to have fun with the project.
Thanks and congratulations also to the other participating artists for their inspiring contributions and helpful discussion in earlier stages of the project. And of course, we’re all indebted to Arts Council England, Margate NOW 2020, Margate Bookie and Kent County Council for supporting and funding this project.