Queen Square 1831 Riot!

Had a enjoyable hour or so today wandering around Queen Square listening to this Interactive Play for Voices:

Imagine a play for voices. It is the Bristol Riots of 1831. The Political Reform Bill has been defeated in Parliament and the vote denied once more to ordinary people. Now those people are rising up and thousands of them have filled Queen Square in the heart of the city to vent their fury. You hear the rioters’ voices as they plunder the surrounding buildings, the flames as buildings burn, the merchants as they flee for their lives and the Dragoon Guards as they sabre-charge through the crowds cutting the rioters down.

You go along, pick up an GPS enabled iPaq in a little backpack (not sure what else was in the backpack, presumably a meaty battery pack), plug in a set of headphones, and wander about. The audio is triggered by your location (hotspot) within the space. The quality of the audio was surprisingly good (I’m not sure why I had a low expectation).

The spacing of the hotspots encouraged slow strolling and little pauses, which felt strange at first – especially in a public space more familiar to me as a short-cut to the pub. The style and pace of the narrative worked well for the interaction (aimless wandering). ‘Wandering across’ snippets of conversation gave it a kind of ghostly feel, especially given the historical – and sometimes grisly – context. (That made it sound a lot cheesier than it really was, it was actually pretty good).

Last day tomorrow. If you’re in or around Bristol, it’s well worth a visit.