The Hidden Stories Of The Chateau
Museum mediation proposal
Year: 2018 | Group Project: Eliana, Eman, Pamela, Jungu | Role: Technology Implementation
"The Hidden Stories of the Château" is an interactive individual audio storytelling experience designed for the Château de Champs-sur-Marne in Paris to enable people to learn about rich and colorful history of the Château in an interactive playful way. Through integrating stories of historical characters that have lived in the Château through the 18th to 20th century into the objects and furniture in the maison, one is able to follow the steps of these characters and live a day of their lives by listening to objects "telling" their stories associated with their related historical characters in a cohesive and immersive way, whilst learning through the decorative arts of this monument of French history.
This project aims to provide an alternative to the traditional visiting experience where visitors are passively accepting information from either the digital kiosk installed in each room which is hardly engaging, or the docent who constantly jumps between stories of different characters which could sometimes lead to confusion.
“That’s what games are, in the end. Teachers. Fun is just another word for learning” wrote Raph Koster in his A Theory of Fun for Game Design (2004). Accordingly, we believe interaction, playfulness and immersion are key to understand and learn about a complex space. In this mediation proposal for the Château de Champs-sur-Marne, we looked at ways to explore and decorticate the long history of the place through different lines of storytelling, in order to implement an educational yet entertaining experience.
“Hidden Stories” aims to present an immersive, interactive, storydriven yet accessible alternative to the established analog and digital interfaces for information at the Château de Champs-sur-Marne.
It gamifies the traditional visiting experience into roleplaying treasure hunts that repurpose the objects/furnitures and room decors from historical artifacts to non-fictional props and stages where history-based stories unfold in a narrative-centric way.
Instead of being a passive receiver of information, the visitor becomes an active explorer of a designed journey full of stories which they would need to discover through interaction with replicated furniture and objects.
There are multiple storylines of characters from different historical periods and our objective was to highlight each of them in a cohesive, educational yet still entertaining way. We began the process by researching into the characters that were most written about then chose replicas of artifacts that could best represent these stories and hacked them into intractable, tangible puzzles that are then fitted into a designed overall storyline and treasure hunt route.
In summary, we intended for the visitor to experience the stories individually, spontaneously and immersively by creating the illusion of them walking in the shoes of the characters they are playing, and to thereby gain a comprehensive yet vivid perspective of the historical narrative of the château.
The Characters of Château de Champs-sur-Marne that we focused on were chosen through the variation of history from the 18th to 20th centuries. The people we chose to develop were Jean-Baptiste Bullet de Chamblais, Mme de Pompadour, and Louis Cahen d’Anvers. The characters are considered as “ghosts” who have seen the Château evolve and can interact with the past, giving the storylines a sense of dimensionality and awareness of spatial/temporal changes.
For each of these characters a script was written in the perspective of a first person narrative. Each script was then appointed to objects in the château. For instance, for one of Louis Cahen d’Anvers scripts, he mentioned being a supporter of the arts which hinted to a painted done by Auguste Renoir in which his daughter was represented. This object-script correlation was a major component to the game process so that historical narrative, personal lives, and objects were melded into one experience.
However, for the sake of academical and reputable sources we decided to focus on Mme de Pompadour. Through the extensive amount of scholarly articles and books written on her life. She is often misunderstood as having been Louis XIV’s mistress yet she was actually well-educated and an avid collector of the arts. To follow suite with the notion we chose to prototype on Mme Pompadour's dairy. We bought an antique book from a flea market that resembles one she holds in a painting by François Boucher, La Marquise de Pompadour (1756). The hardwares are simple: Arduino board as controller. Speaker for playing voice of script. NFC sensor for picking up interaction and triggering voice playing. We embed all the electronics inside the book so that it’s invisible from the visitor. When the user place her NFC tag ( ‘the key to unlock stories’) near the book, the book would start talking about its related story in first-person perspective and then prompting the visitor to go find the next object.