News | June 7, 2023

New Interactive Exhibition Showcases How Technology Is Transforming Storytelling

British Library

Digital Storytelling at the British Library

The British Library's new exhibition Digital Storytelling explores how evolving online technologies have changed how writers write, and readers read.

A range of digital stories are on display together for the first time, including four-time BAFTA nominated 80 Days, an interactive adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, and the exclusive public preview of Windrush Tales, the world’s first interactive narrative game based on the experiences of Caribbean immigrants in post-World War II Britain

Also on display will be interactive media providing insights into the lived stories behind historical events, from the 2011 Egyptian uprising in A Dictionary of the Revolution which charts the evolution of political language in Egypt during the uprising in 2011 to a moving account of the loss of a relative in the 2017 Manchester Arena Bombing in c ya laterrrr, an intimate autobiographical hypertext account of the loss of author Dan Hett’s brother

The narratives featured in the exhibition will prompt visitors to consider what new possibilities emerge when they are invited as readers to become a part of the story themselves. The exhibition reveals how technology can be used to enhance their reading experience, from Zombies, Run!, the widely popular audio fiction fitness app, to Breathe, a ghost story that “follows the reader around”, reacting to users’ real-time location data.

The exhibition also premieres a new edition of This is a Picture of Wind, with a new sequence of poems inspired by Derek Jarman’s writing about his garden. This is a Picture of Wind was originally written in response to severe storms in the South West of England in 2014.

An excerpt from 80 Days on display in Digital Storytelling
inkle Ltd

An excerpt from 80 Days on display in Digital Storytelling

Excerpt from This is a Picture of Wind
JR Carpenter

Excerpt from This is a Picture of Wind

Fold out map from Zombies run keeping fit and living well c 1.jpg (114.94 KB)
Naomi Alderman

Fold out map from Zombies Run!

Windrush Tales
3Fold Games

Windrush Tales

Other highlights include Astrologaster, an award-winning interactive comedy based on the archival casebooks of Elizabethan medical astrologer Simon Forman, and Clockwork Watch, a transmedia collaborative story set in a steampunk Victorian England.

Giulia Carla Rossi, Curator for Digital Publications in Contemporary British Published Collections and co-curator of the exhibition, said: “Over the last half a century, digital technologies have transformed how we communicate, research and consume media, and this shift is reflected in the growth of digital stories in the Library’s ever-growing collection. At the core of all the items on display are rich narratives that are dynamic, responsive, personalised and evoke for readers the experience of getting lost in a truly immersive story.”
A season of in-person events inspired by the exhibition include:

  • MIX 2023 Storytelling in Immersive Media, a one-day conference exploring the intersection of writing and technology, July 7, 2023.
  • An Island of Sound: J.R. Carpenter with Jules Rawlinson, a live and immersive experience exploring phantom islands as weather phenomena, July 7, 2023.
  • Astrologaster: meet the makers and the music from this pioneering storytelling game, a conversation with the creators and a live performance of songs from the Astrologaster soundtrack, September 15, 2023.
  • Late at the Library: Digital Steampunk, an immersion in the Clockwork Watch story world, and exploration of 19th century London in Minecraft, October 13, 2023.

Digital Storytelling runs through October 15, 2023