Adding a new dimension to tales of rioting

The sights, sounds and stories of the 1831 riots which led to Nottingham Castle being set on fire will be placed in the palms of visitors' hands through a cutting edge digital project.

The sights, sounds and stories of the 1831 riots which led to Nottingham Castle being set on fire will be placed in the palms of visitors' hands through a cutting edge digital project.

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University are working with Nottingham Castle, Nottingham-based Hot Knife Digital Media and the University of Nottingham on the RIOT 1831@ Nottingham Castle project.

The team was awarded £125,000 from the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts to develop what is known as an "augmented reality" project.

The project will work by using devices such as iPads to overlay interactive animated scenes and characters onto real life exhibits such as paintings, tapestries and 3D models, to tell the story of the Reform Bill Riots of 1831. That was when protestors, angered by the House of Lords' rejection of the Bill to change the electoral system, set fire to the castle. Nottingham Castle was the derelict property of the 4th Duke of Newcastle who voted against the Reform.

People will have to move the iPads to track moving images around the gallery space and unravel the stories, interacting with the objects and space around them.

It makes people think about the riots we've had in this country and abroad recently.

Roma Patel, researcher for Nottingham Trent University

Nottingham Trent University School of Art & Design researchers Roma Patel and Deborah Tuck are working closely with Adrian Davies of Nottingham Castle to develop storyline, script and interaction.Roma Patel is also co-ordinating the project academic research exploring the technology as interpretation. "This will approach the riots through the stories and accounts of different people, from a young boy working in lace making at the time to the lodge keeper at the castle," she said. "Using the iPads, or through their own smart devices, people will be able to experience these stories. It will allow us to augment objects in the gallery. For example, when put over a piece of lace the iPad display will show a boy's hands making the lace and tell his story while asking visitors to help him complete it and unravel the picture. Another part will allow rain drops and the sound of rain to be seen on the screen as people move it around the gallery and hear the story of people storming the castle."

She hopes it will spark debate about riots and unrest – both then and now.

"In one section, the sound of modern day sirens will be heard at the riots," she said. "It makes people think about the riots we've had in this country and abroad recently and hopefully will spark debate and conversation about what leads to them."

The project is due to be completed ready for an official opening in July, though there will be some public testing from 16 May and through June.

The process of this partnership project has been both demanding and truly inspirational.

Adrian Davies, Nottingham Castle

In preparation, The Story of Nottingham gallery at Nottingham Castle has been closed to allow it to be refitted ready for the project – it is one of the first times in the country an exhibition has been designed and built around the needs of augmented reality.

Adrian Davies from Nottingham Castle said: "The process of this partnership project has been both demanding and truly inspirational. The input and enthusiasm from research and technology partners has been fundamental to the project's emerging success. The Fund has enabled us all to experiment, innovate and challenge each other and our working practices. This research and development project will showcase the skills, imagination and ambitions of the city partners and inform how we could move forward together in the future."

Andrew Whitney from Hot Knife Digital Media said: "This emerging and exciting technology allows a mobile device to recognise gallery items and overlay additional information or even narratives about the exhibit.

"Our aim for the research project is to produce a mobile application that combines image and object recognition with immersive animations and sounds, which will allow visitors to interact with museum objects and experience animated digital performances of the events of 10 October 10 1831. It's a very exciting time for mobile technology and augmented reality is already being integrated with our everyday lives."

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Kirsty Green, Press and Public Affairs Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8799, or via email.

    To deliver the best possible exhibition experience, Nottingham Castle is working collaboratively with expert partners from both the world of academia and cutting edge visual communication:

    The £125,000 project is supported by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts.

    The Digital R&D fund for the Arts is a £7 million fund to support collaboration between organisations with arts projects, technology providers, and researchers. It is a partnership between Arts Council England, Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nesta. It wants to see projects that use digital technology to enhance audience reach and/or develop new business models for the arts sector. With a dedicated researcher or research team as part of the three-way collaboration, learning from the project can be captured and disseminated to the wider arts sector.
    Every project needs to identify a particular question or problem that can be tested. Importantly this question needs to generate knowledge for other arts organisations that they can apply to their own digital strategies.

    Nottingham Trent University, School of Art and Design researchers Roma Patel and Deborah Tuck are working closely with Adrian Davies of Nottingham Castle to develop storyline, script and interaction. Roma Patel is also co-ordinating the project academic research exploring the technology as interpretation.

    Nottingham based Hot Knife Digital Media, specialists in animation and digital content, are the technology providers creating the 3D Augmented Reality and App design including modelling, animation and interaction.

    Dr Richard Gaunt, University of Nottingham, School of History, will play an essential role in the historic re-interpretation of the riots and the 4th Duke of Newcastle, who owned Nottingham Castle at the time. Dr Stuart Reeves, University of Nottingham, School of Computer Science, will provide expertise in recording how visitors actually use the new technology . Dr Trevor Foulds, is bringing specialist knowledge of the Ducal Palace

    Many staff and volunteers at Nottingham Castle are uncovering exciting new connections through research that are helping to develop rich content for the new exhibition incorporating the digital project.

    The new exhibition will initially open on May 16, for visitor testing, then formally on July 4.

Adding a new dimension to tales of rioting

Published on 18 March 2014
  • Category: Press; School of Art & Design

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