In the context of the EU-funded Future Fabulators project at M-ITI, we conceived and designed a locally inspired context-aware transmedia story. Drawing inspiration from a future scenario session , we developed a fictional story around two central themes: the past-present-future impact of human settlement on a particular ecosystem, in this case the centuries-old ‘living lab’ and UNESCO-protected wilderness of Madeira; and the healing properties of local flora as explored in folk remedies.
The story takes place in Madeira during the 18th century, when it served as a busy port for transatlantic trade. Our heroine, Laura Silva, is a young woman who discovers in Madeira’s unique forest plants and flowers with healing properties. She then uses them to help the people of the island and catalogues her findings in a vast herbarium – an annotated and illustrated book with samples of medicinal plants – but the book goes missing.
The transmedia experience will push the audience to embark on a quest to find the herbarium. The experience will be mediated through a custom made mobile application that will provide location-aware sensing to guide the audience in discovering parts of the story that lead to the book. The story will be presented in the form of audiovisual content, traditional media (handwritten journals, letters) and interactive artefacts placed in significant locations around the city of Funchal. Once the book is found, the audience will be asked to decide the future of the book. Who would they hand this precious book to – the state, academia, private collectors, or pharmaceutical companies? After this important decision is made, the audience will be able to experience the impact that past knowledge and present action will have on a shared future. We envisage this experience mainly for tourists, but we intend to set up web-based contact points to encourage local people to share and exchange knowledge about local traditions, folktales, and herbal remedies.
The project is now in the development stage. The story has been plotted and crucial interaction and media identified. The mobile platform is in its prototype stage, and we are now producing the media and experience prototype of the story.