How To Tell a Saga Using Data and AR
Mixing new technologies with ancient art forms
I have long wanted to tell the epic story of the great arc of history from the origins of humankind to where we are today. Further, it is important for me to illustrate how the story and history of Africa is the story and history of us all.
Moving from the dawn of mankind and the blossoming of culture, to the expansion through the land-bridge between continents, to the change from nomadic to agrarian societies, to the rise of civilizations, all of history was born in Africa: the cradle of humanity.
Unfortunately this fact is rarely acknowledged and the most recent children of Africa to leave- as well as those who never wandered away- remain caught in a seemingly unending struggle for self-actualization, sovereignty, and freedom.
The story of humanity is about living, thriving, surviving, escaping, fighting, existing, and hoping through seemingly insurmountable odds. This unwillingness to be broken is epic in proportion and scope- yet integral to understanding human nature.
I want people to feel the emotional pull of this journey while also consuming the data that backs the narrative arc.
When just telling an emotional story- no matter how deep the impact- there is an attempt to cushion the blow by rationalizing that the event was rare in nature. Reinforcing the story with statistics may help bridge the gap that exists between seemingly unattached numbers and the actual people who are impacted.
Data storytelling is the art form of the future. Never before have we had access to the broad scope of data we currently possess. This sheer volume of data is enough to tell endless compelling stories. However, there’s a chasm between those who hold the data and everyone else. This chasm is growing wider as people feel like they are either being talked down to or manipulated when presented with numbers. Most importantly, data on its own is disjointed, unsatisfying, and void of heart and humanity.
“Data without story isn’t meaningful, but a story can bring data to life.” — Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic — Storytelling with Data
Art has always pushed the boundaries of the human mind and forced us to stare into the darkness and face what stares back at us. This project is about facing our collective past and celebrating our shared origins while acknowledging that injustices have been and continue to be enacted against those who contribute so much every day.
This project will use Augmented Reality to tell this story in a spatialized way that transforms walls into the screen of a shadow play.
The story is the epic rise of mankind and its evolution in which you root for the archetypal heroine and hero through different phases in human history.
You watch them discover how to make fire. You watch them spread throughout the globe. You watch them on a hunt to feed their village. You watch them build an empire. And you watch it all dissolve when they cast their eyes upon ships approaching the shore.
The journey continues from there, highlighting that through everything that came next, that original resilience and creative spirit has yet to be squashed. The effects of this un-killable spirit have transformed the globe as the joyous output of the chronically disenfranchised continues to bring happiness, hope, and life to so many people all over the world.
This story is a celebration of the human spirit, told in a way that was never possible before.
Will you join me on my journey?
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Check out my website at www.charityeverett.com.
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Drop me a line if you want to talk about my project, the tech, data storytelling, history, or anything else that you can think of.
Charity Everett is a student at Harvard University studying digital media, and the current Artist In Residence at Industry Lab in Cambridge. She has a background in VR and AR development and was chosen as a part of the inaugural cohort of Oculus Launchpad. She previously served as the Creative Lead on an MIT based VR startup telling the story of the impacts of climate change on South Florida using VR.