July 24, 2022 7.00 am

Immersive storytelling experience heading to Lincoln this month

See the city through multimedia technologies

The ‘UK’s largest immersive storytelling experience’ will come to Lincoln later this month to let residents see the city differently.

The StoryTrails Live Tour, part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, will be at Lincoln Central Library on Free School Lane for a free two-day event on Saturday (10am-6pm) and Sunday (11am-5pm), July 30 and 31. It is part of a tour of 15 locations around the UK this summer.

The experience allows visitors to explore untold and local stories about the city through ground-breaking multimedia technologies. Stories include that of Lincoln’s famous Imp, the symbol of the city who, legend has it, was turned to stone by an angel.

It is centred around the library, and on the streets of the city itself, and features digital experiences so people can enjoy Lincoln in a new way through augmented (AR), virtual reality (VR) and immersive cinema.

Adam Dixon, a game designer and writer who grew up in Lincolnshire, created an augmented reality trail specific to Lincoln. He also recently worked on games including Total Darkness for the Science Museum, Newsflash for Sutton Library and Red Bull’s Mindgamers.

The StoryTrails Live Tour will be in Lincoln on July 30 and 31. | Photo: ISODESIGN

The trail is accessed through mobile devices and invites visitors to meet Lincoln’s famous Imp, who needs help to find his way back to the Cathedral where his old gang of gargoyle friends can offer some clues about his identity.

The journey leads visitors and the Imp to Stonemason Rachel Wragg. The Imp discovers it may not be the hand of an angel he has to thank, rather the hand of a stonemason.

The AR trail uses cine film and video home movie footage, and photography from the BBC and British Film Institute, as well as local archive materials to present a window into the past.

Virtual reality headsets will bring to life BBC and BFI archives. | Photo: Midland Country, 1974, courtesy of BFI National Archive.

Visitors can borrow devices from the library and follow a guided augmented reality trail. They can also download the StoryTrails app on their smartphone and follow the route from outside the library.

Adam said: “It’s taken months of work to get to this point and we can’t believe we finally get to share it with everyone. It’s truly been a project by Lincoln, for Lincoln, created in Lincoln. We’ve unearthed incredible stories of powerful local characters that deserve to be told.”

There will also be an immersive cinema experience unique to the city and viewed on a cycloramic cinema screen set up outside the library.

Immersive virtual maps of the city have been created using 3D scans of the local buildings, people, objects and areas, telling stories of people and place. The 15-minute film will play on a loop throughout the day.

An expanded version of the map can also be viewed on iPads inside the library. In Lincoln, the map was developed by local spatial StoryMapper Emma Osman, who moved to Lincolnshire at the age of seven and studied Performing Arts at Lincoln College.

It was created from the stories of local people, and features iconic places and local favourites such as the Cathedral and Bluebird Arts and Crafts Shop.

Adam Dixon and Emma Osman are two local creatives involved in StoryTrails. | Photo: StoryTrails

Emma has workshopped Hibo Wardere’s memoir cut, focusing around the theme of being a refugee in the UK. She believes Lincoln is already bursting with history.

She said: “The thing I love most about Lincoln is its architecture. I’m excited to be working on the StoryTrails project because Lincoln has a rich history and present that I think could be fascinating to uncover.”

Emma and Adam were just two of 50 emerging creatives around the UK to be selected to take part in the development of StoryTrails.

The StoryTrails Live Tour will be at Lincoln Central Library on July 30 and 31.

Time travel continues inside the library across the two live event days when visitors enter digitally created worlds using a virtual reality (VR) headset.

They can expect to find themselves in the shoes of a rebellious teenager as she discovers her mother’s punk past; take part in one of the many South Asian daytime raves that took place across the UK in the 1980s and 1990s; and hear what earlier generations thought life would be like today.

Historian and television presenter David Olusoga, familiar to viewers of the BBC’s A House in Time, narrates a further AR experience that invites visitors to turn a dial on a virtual giant radio and travel back in time.

In addition, there will be more traditional activities on offer, including making an Imp mask and moulding your very own pottery Imp. The library’s Guess Where exhibition will require history detectives to piece together clues and landmarks to guess exactly where in the modern city the historic images on display are.