Play Me A Story


While our objects, homes, devices and screens now speak to us, these gadgets often have very little to say. The public and private world is progressively converting our lived environment into a sea of spoken word potential, but its content seems more attuned to command and control utterances than to the history of poetic expression.

For the past year, the Media Design Master of the HEAD – Genève has been exploring the narrative potential of objects, screens and gestures, when injected with the storytelling force of classical mythology, real-world testimonials, and literary narratives. Our experiments and developments often involve hybrid solutions, as we attempt to find new ways of re-injecting old narratives into new contexts. The principal ingredient for this method is play: playful interfaces, with players enacting stories through playable objects.

Play Me A Story is the latest exhibition designed by Master Media Design students. The latter explores new hybrid forms of storytelling in the mobile age. Each project explores new configurations for storytelling via classical objects of discovery: a card game, a globe, a reading lantern…

The Reading Lantern, storytelling with light.

A 2600-year-old Chinese folktale is sent into the cloud of speech detection algorithms while a parent reads an illustrated book to their child. The Reading Lantern recognises the words as they are read out loud, animating its colours to reveal the characters and landscape of each page — creating a special atmosphere to accompany the magical moment of bedtime stories.

A Midwinter Day’s Nightmare, a Shakespearean game of cards.

A hybrid strategy game using the characters of Shakespeare as they fight for love, power, and glory. Players select their best characters from The Bard as they complete a series of open and secret objectives. A central tablet watches over the interactions of these heroes, royalties and lovers as each encounter unfolds into new tragedies narrated by the tablet.

Genèse, The creation of a virtual world, no helmet required.

Genèse is a curious object that doubles as a rotating globe. As it rotates an interactive tablet on its axis — one rotation per day — the tablet displays an offbeat retelling of the seven days of creation of the world. This generative landscape is altered and modified according to the interactions that people have with the tablet: a simple contact with the screen disrupts the natural cycle of creation of mountains, animals, humans, rivers, and trees.

Here is the conference Ghofran Akil and I gave at Kikk Festival 2019. Please note there were many technical difficulties due to cable issues and the theatre’s projector setup — so these were entirely out of my control.