This project aims to add another layer to the physical experience of a historically valuable neighborhood, Garment District through the use of a technological platform. Augmented reality has a great potential to relate stories with places. This project uses Augmented Reality technology in order to show the hidden stories of the neighborhood that is embedded into the cityscape. The narrative of the AR experience is mainly based on the juxtaposition of a story named as “The Guided Tour of 7th Avenue” and the historical pictures that present the previous life at the Garment Center’s streets.
Project | MFADT Spring 2017 Major Studio II
Role | Experience Design, User Research, Development, Visual Design
Tools |Sketch, Unity, Vuforia, After Effects, Illustrator
Team | Tuba Ozkan
New York City is an architectural palimpsest and Augmented Reality is a powerful tool for making the layers of the city visible. Therefore, I chose this platform as a medium to tell this short story about Garment Center. The author of the story ‘The Guided Tour of 7th Avenue’ was merely talking about the atmosphere of the streets and one of the factory’s interior. I selected only some parts of this story especially the part which includes more descriptions of the street life and spatial elements. I deciphered the story and tried to split it into sections according to the strongness of spatial descriptions. At the same time, I searched for the visual elements that show the earlier versions of the street life of the 7th Avenue and surrounding.
After I collected as much as historical photos and videos were taken around Garment Center, I tried to superpose these visuals with the places which are identified in the story. At the end, I decided to focus five critical spots at around 7th Avenue. A person should be at these specific spots in order to activate the Augmented Reality application in the phone and engage with the narrative. I wanted to add some attraction to the historical photos, to do that I transformed them into 2.5D graphs. When the text came together with these moving images, they were more successful to give a sense of the old street life. After I determined the path that I will suggest to the audiences, I made my first iteration at the site with using old photos printed in the transparent paper as a replication of AR experience. I also read the selected sections of the story at the site, while the visitor was looking at the spots through images. I recognized that the crowd and the traffic were distracting the audience to engage with the story. However, he captured some details from the story and then he claimed that he was able to relate those details to the actual space and they made him creating some connections with the past.
Exhibition and User Tests
At the end of the semester, we organized a showcase for final projects of Major Studio. I had a chance to test my prototype during exhibition day by imitating the streets of Garment District on the walls. The photos from the existing streets were triggering the AR stories when users were placing them in the photos. User tests showed that the final form of the project was successfully giving the main idea behind it. Some of the users mentioned that they were impressed by seeing the historical photos of an existing place on the top of its current version. On the other hand, some get annoyed by the slowness of the videos, and they said it would be great to see more action. Additionally, some others mentioned that it would be more effective if they were able to hear the story in the form of audio as well. All these feedbacks proved that AR can be a great platform for geolocational storytelling but requires a hard work for content development. If the content is not interesting enough to arouse user’s attention, the user can easily be distracted by environmental factors (like light, sound, movement, crowd etc.).