Story Trails Made us See Blackpool Differently

When you visit Central Library in Blackpool you expect to step into different worlds through the medium of books. Last weekend it was more ‘if you go into the library today, you’re sure of a big surprise!’ as audiences entered the worlds of Virtual Reality (VR) and interactive Augmented Reality (AR).

Story Trails is the UK’s largest immersive storytelling project and brings together the past, present and future using the latest technology. Through immersive cinema experience, 3D maps of Blackpool or a VR headset bringing to life BFI & BBC archives, there was much to choose from. Throughout the two days the Blackpool augmented reality walking trail around the town was conducted in small groups by 2 actors, with the use hand held devices and headsets.

Last year Story Trails invited expressions of interest from local creatives and artists to work with them to discover and develop untold stories from Blackpool. The augmented reality trail reveals the history of Blackpool’s LGBTQ+ communities and is the work of Blackpool creatives Joseph Doubtfire and Leo Mercer who were among 50 from around the nation chosen to work on Story Trails in their own towns.

Each experience brought fun and unexpected features. Wearing a VR headset for the first time I found it unnerving but fascinating as I was transported inside the 3D film I was seeing and hearing. The story was about one-time Blackpool resident, Mike Hatjoullis, a second-generation Greek-Cypriot immigrant whose parents arrived in the UK in the 1930s. The story focuses on Blackpool in its 1950s heyday when Mike’s father ran a well-known seafront restaurant, Tomlinson’s Cafe. Having studied at the Royal College of Art alongside the likes of David Hockney and Ridley Scott, Mike became an influential textile designer and master printmaker and his contemporary large-scale lino-cut depictions of Blackpool are animated within the VR experience, created by ShroomStudio.

In the children’s library individuals could be scanned by a librarian with an iPad using unique technology. The scan was then used to create a picture postcard of the person holding a shrunken image of themselves. I’m not very big to start with so I was cautious about being shrunk. But I did return to my usual size at the end.

This groundbreaking technology shows us Blackpool as we have never seen it before and the untold stories of local people are engaging and fascinating. StoryTrails certainly caused a buzz throughout the town over the weekend.

If you missed this event you can still pop down to Central Library in Blackpool to enjoy some of the experiences until October. You can download the app on to your smart phone and take yourself on your own AR trip around the town. You can also access the iPad installations inside the library. So if you are looking for a chance to get away from reality right now, here’s your chance.

Contact Central Library for more information:

Telephone: 01253 478080
Email: [email protected]

Central Library (Blackpool)

or visit www.story-trails.com

Commissioned as part of #Unboxed2022








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