Some Distinctive Features of Narrative Environments

Main Article Content

Published Jul 30, 2018
Issue Volume 1 Number 2 (2018)
Section Articles

Tricia Austin

Abstract

This paper explores key characteristics of spatial narratives, which are called narrative environments here. Narrative environments can take the form of exhibitions, brand experiences and certain city quarters where stories are deliberately being told in, and through, the space. It is argued that narrative environments can be conceived as being located on a spectrum of narrative practice between media-based narratives and personal life narratives. While watching a screen or reading a book, you are, although often deeply emotionally immersed in a story, always physically ‘outside’ the story. By contrast, you can walk right into a narrative environment, becoming emotionally, intellectually and bodily surrounded by, and implicated in, the narrative. An experience in a narrative environment is, nonetheless, different from everyday experience, where the world, although designed, is not deliberately constituted by others intentionally to imbed and communicate specific stories. The paper proposes a theoretical framework for space as a narrative medium and offers a critical analysis of two case studies of exhibitions, one in a museum and one in the public realm, to support the positioning of narrative environments in the centre of the spectrum of narrative practice.

Keywords: media-based narratives, narrative environments, life narratives

Article Details

Author Biography

Tricia Austin, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, United Kingdom

Tricia Austin is an academic, author and design researcher. She is Course Leader of MA Narrative Environments at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. She has lectured on design in Europe, Asia and Latin America and led a number of creative, socially-engaged projects with community groups, other universities and governmental organisations across the world. Most recently Tricia was a contributor to, and co-editor of, The Future of Museum and Gallery Design: Purpose, Process, Perception published in 2018 by Routledge.

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