Digital tools can be a relevant support to reveal a (Hi)story of a collection or a location, support learning. This month, I introduce you Nathalie Paquet, founder and manager of Urban Expé which offers digital trails and experiences into areas.
Urban Expé was born because of “The Game” film (1997, realised by David Fincher) and my wish to transpose it in the real life and for everyone. It’s surely not for today but may be for tomorrow. From the beginning, the aim is to group and inspire from paper chases, treasure hunts for a large public and the more contemporary models of games (ARG, transmedia experiences) to offer the more accessible and scripted experiences. This scripted dimension is really in the core of the Urban Expé action to allow users to live thoroughly the story that is told to them.
To define quickly, every experience is built on two steps:
First, understand the location and all its specificities because every space is shaped by its history, context, uses, time, … After, there is the customer demand that can take many forms: Heritage valorisation, bring audience not used to come, create a festive event, communicate about an event, …
The second step is focused on the game design: I have to “play” with all these elements to suggest a homogeneous and understandable universe based on a scenario and technologies, to aim the more easy and immersive experience for the user. The game script is drawn to talk with the area and technologies allow these exchanges, to discover with another look the territory, to serve the experience. All the installation must be obvious and easy.
What are the limitations that you often meet with your customers, audience or in the conception of the product?
The main limit is about the integration of technologies inside urban space. This one is not yet thought for technology or even to add elements. I voluntary use “add” and “elements” because I don’t think that we must integrate permanently technologies inside urban areas, particularly because we are not ready. We have to experiment, to test digital tools, services and their resilience.
Another point that I think important is “element” because they don’t have to be necessarily digital but could be electronic, plastic, vegetal, sound based, … It will be only desirable to massively integrate these “elements” in the city when we will be able to fit them in the space. Then we could experiment an important number of urban experiences.
Tomorrow’s urban space is, according to me, flexible, modular, the most evolutionary depending on hours, days, seasons and years, depending also on the number of persons present or who is precisely here. All these possibilities are allowed by digital tools and their flexibilities, that will be even more developed tomorrow –even if tomorrow has already started!
About limits, one of them is the digital integration in the city (because often designed as adjunction), we have to think security, weather and human behaviour. And nowadays, these elements are expensive; this is the second limit: cost. Projects that I lead are clearly restrained by costs of integrations.
Finally, a limit that is one only if you consider it like this: write stories which take place and play in a particular area. We are only at the beginning of this new way to write on and into a space. Beware: I don’t say that this is totally new and never existed before! Mind the aborigine religion and the Dreamtime, this time laps that brings you into spatialised storytelling for example.
My concern is what makes the specificity of the Today spatialised stories. It is what I am calling “spatialised transmedia storytelling” to name this concept but it could be called differently tomorrow.
Territory is a “transmedia object”. Every monument, any element of cities has its own context, its own story, its place, its relation with other urban objects. But the difference and what makes an enriched experience comes from the exploration of the way of being arranged through the time these many elements.
The spatialised transmedia storytelling deals and plays with this state and can be discovered through different supports –digital or not! Location is yet becoming object and support of storytelling. Script is made by different groups of stories and different trajectories which link (or not) these “islands” of (piece of) stories. All these narrations and storytelling fluctuate following the hour, the day, anybody’s desire. Nowadays, there still doesn’t exist the ideal tool to accompany the emergence of these four dimensions stories.
What is your driving guidance in your job?
My driving guidance or way of thinking the urban space it’s thinking the space as a multiform object. I want to experiment, test but also offer the more aesthetic experience. At last, I must think to every solution, digital is not the miracle answer to everything.
Urban Expé is thought from its beginning to adapt its concept and shape it the more easily as possible; to be rethought after each project to enrich its own concept and its know-how by its own process. That’s why Urban Expé should be slightly different… #metamorphosis
Find Nathalie Paquet in these medias: