Digital Storytelling at the 2023 BL Labs Symposium
One half of the 2023 British Library Labs Symposium will be dedicated to digital storytelling. This has been a significant part of BL Labs work over the years; we have collaborated with experimental artists from David Normal’s creative reuse of British Library Flickr images for his giant lightbox collage Crossroads of Curiosity installation at the 2014 Burning Man festival, to working with first runner up in the BL Labs 2016 competition Michael Takeo Magruder on his 2019 exhibition Imaginary Cities.
In the last few years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic disruption, digital stories and engagement have become mainstream across the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) sector. New types of digital storytelling mixing social media, online exhibitions embedding narratives and digital objects, and interactive online events reaching entirely new audiences, delighted us all. However, we also discovered that there can be a saturation point with online engagement, and that many digital developments have some way to go to reach their full potential.
As we are hopefully entering healthier times, new opportunities to mix virtual and physical worlds are starting to open up. With this in mind, we felt that this is the right moment to explore a new age of digital storytelling at the 2023 BL Labs Symposium.
The idea is to explore what is changing in the world of technological possibilities and how they are continuing to develop. We have envisaged a journey that will take us from the big picture of the arising digital possibilities to more specific examples from the British Library’s work. In true BL Labs spirit we will also celebrate initiatives that creatively reuse the Library’s digital collections.
To help us look into the big trends, we are delighted to be joined by Zillah Watson, whose extraordinary breath of experience working with BBC, Meta, BFI and Royal Shakespeare Company amongst many others, will help us to get a deeper sense of the opportunities of virtual reality (VR). Zillah will look into what it means, not just to be dazzled with technological possibilities, but also to enter the magic of storytelling.
Talking of magic, we are lucky to welcome award winning Director, Anrick Bregman, and award winning Producer, Grace Baird. Anrick and Grace will take us deeper into the potential of using VR to uncover hidden stories. Anrick’s film A Convict Story is an interactive VR project built on British Library data that brings to life a story discovered by the linking of data from centuries ago, using data research powered by machine learning.
Even closer to home, our own Stella Wisdom and Ian Cooke, will talk about their current work on curating the British Library’s forthcoming Digital Storytelling exhibition (2 June – 15 October 2023), which will explore the ways technology provides opportunities to transform and enhance the way writers write and readers engage. Drawing on the Library’s collection of contemporary digital publications and emerging formats to highlight the work of innovative and experimental writers. It will feature interactive works that invite and respond to user input, reading experiences influenced by data feeds, and immersive story worlds created using multiple platforms and audience participation. This is an exciting development, as we can see how earlier British Library creative digital experiments, collaborations and research projects are building into an exhibition in its own right.
We hope you can join us for discussion at the BL Labs Symposium on Thursday 30 March 2023. For the full programme, and further information on all our speakers, please read our earlier blog post.
You can book your place here.