Immersive Dickens

Prototyping a mixed reality immersive display of a Charles Dickens manuscript

About the Project

We are prototyping a mixed reality experience for young people with immersive theatre pioneers Punchdrunk Enrichment and creative technology studio The Workers. It will bring an original Charles Dickens manuscript alive through an innovative mix of technology, performance and curatorial practice.

Context

The project tackles the challenge of making literary manuscripts accessible to a teenage audience. It is funded through an AHRC call for fresh immersive cultural experiences, and chimes with ongoing V&A research into new display methods. The Dickens manuscripts are fragile, hard to decipher, and can be difficult to access. Yet they contain fascinating evidence of a brilliant, pioneering author at work. Taking a human centred design approach, we are developing an imaginative and digitally-enabled presentation of the manuscripts which aims to unlock their secrets for the next generation.

Aim

We are testing how digital technologies, when blended with the dynamics of group interaction and performance, can add value and quality to museum displays for a young, demanding audience. The prototype experience is designed to engage young people with Dickens’s creative process and inspire them to continue on their own creative journey. Students and teachers are involved in its development, helping us to understand and meet their needs and motivations when encountering these archive objects.

Outcomes

This practical research project will see the partners informing each other’s practice in working towards a new model for participatory modes of display. A comprehensive case study and toolkit will inform and potentially empower museum professionals, creative technologists, theatre practitioners – and others – to create more effective immersive experiences for young people. Student and teacher participants will benefit from engagement with the partners, taking back ideas to apply in an educational context. The research feeds into two related VARI projects, Show+Tell+Share and Digital Dickens.

Project updates
11 September 2018
Designing a minimum viable experience
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20 July 2018
‘Dangerously immersive’ Dickens
‘Dangerously immersive’ is how Charles Dickens’s serialized novels were perceived at the time. In the 19th century, as Frank Rose describes in ‘The Art of Immersion’, novels were only just beginning to find acceptance in...
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The Team
Kati Price
Principle Investigator

As principle investigator, Kati is ultimately responsible for the project. As Head of Digital Media and Publishing at the V&A, Kati leads content development across digital and print, and explores ways that technology can help improve the visitor expe ... see more

Peter Higgin
Creative Lead

Peter is working as a lead creative on the Immersive Dickens project. He is a founding member of Punchdrunk and joint CEO of the charitable arm of the company. In 2008 he established the company's enrichment department and has pioneered taking punchd ... see more

Kathryn Johnson
Co-Investigator

Kathryn has a keen practical and research interest in new modes of displaying intangible heritage, chiefly literature and music. She was assistant curator of the blockbuster V&A exhibition ‘David Bowie is’, and content editor for ‘Pink Floyd: Their Mo ... see more

Eva Liparova
Project manager

Eva brings with her the experience of working as a product manager as part of the V&A Digital Media & Publishing team, as well as a freelance theatre producer and startup founder. In her work, Eva enjoys shaping, defining and delivering products that ... see more

Margot Myers
Creative Technologist

Margot is one of the directors of the creative technology studio The Workers. Using her background in literature and design she explores new ways of storytelling by using technology in unexpected ways. In 2012, she co-founded, the creative agency, Stu ... see more

Tommaso Lanza
Creative Technologist

Tommaso is a product designer, technologist and cofounder of The Workers, an award-winning creative technology studio. Combining design thinking and broad experience in all digital domains, Tommaso has worked over the years with large cultural institu ... see more

Nicolas Myers
Creative Technologist

Nicolas is a director at The Workers. His work, greatly influenced by his studies in graphic design and computer sciences, investigates the implications of digital technology through the filter of design. He graduated from the Design Interactions cour ... see more

Rebecca Dawson
Creative Lead

Rebecca is supporting Peter Higgin as lead creative on Immersive Dickens in an executive producer role. Rebecca is Executive Director and joint CEO of Punchdrunk’s charity. Responsible for its strategic direction, she works closely with Punchdrunk’s c ... see more

External Partner