Applied Narrative Design was invited by the Dutch Embassy in Canada to visit Toronto last October to participate in a contest. The contest was about developing a way to apply augmented reality in an educational context. We did not win the contest but it was an interesting experience for the students and the coach.
Below is a report by one of the students that went on the trip to Toronto.
Design for the Future.
A report by Rogier Jupijn.
In this report I will be summarizing our experiences during the week we were in Toronto.
We (Lenno the teacher and students – Myrthe, Thom and me) were invited by the Dutch
Embassy in Ottowa, Canada to participate in the Design for the Future contest and to visit
Digifest, a festival celebrating innovation and digital creativity.
After a comfortable 8 hour flight we landed at 7 PM (local time, or 1 AM. Holland time)
and we took a cab to the centre of Toronto. We stayed at the Jarvis House, a small
bed&breakfast located in downtown Toronto. Thom and me shared a room in the
basement while Lenno and Myrthe had their own rooms on the first floor. We went to bed
quite soon (10 PM or 4 AM in Holland) to beat the jet-lag and to be fresh and energetic
the next morning.
Around 10 AM we arrived at the George Brown College to meet the students we were
going to be working with during the Design for the Future competition. We met professor
Xavier Masse, consult general from the embassy Hans Horbach and Nigel Newton the
expert of Layar application. They gave us a small introduction on the competition and the
planning for the rest of the week.
The competition was based on the Layar app. Layar is an augmented reality app that
allows it’s users to view conventional printed media with a augmented layer on top of it.
This layer contains digital content like buttons, audio and video and gives our ordinary
reality a new meaning. For the competition we had to implement layar in the already
existing concepts created by the students from the George Brown College. Their
concepts focussed on creating awareness for renewable energy and using ‘green’ energy.
I joined the green team. A group of 5 students who created a concept using piezo crystals
to generate energy on the Dundas square (a famous diagonal crossing in Toronto). By
placing these crystals (which generate energy by pressure) on the crossings the
pedestrians are generating energy and art. The art is created by tracking their movement
and translating it to a gigantic screen on top of the square where this movement is being
converted in to art. The art style would change everyday so it doesn’t get boring and they
would launch a website where other artists could upload their own styles.
We only had an hour or two to meet and greet our fellow students before we had to leave
to visit the Ryerson Image Centre. The Centre is a brand new museum for modern art
where graduation students used material from the old archives to create new art. The
pieces in there were pretty boring except for one piece. Someone edited a bunch of old
famous press-pictures to a really basic but cool sounding drum track. The whole movie
was about 5 minutes long but was real pleasure to see and hear it.
After this exposition we went back to the College to attend a lecture by Chris Solarski, an
author and game designer. He gave a inspiring lecture about classical art techniques for
modern day video game design. He talked about how the classical painters used lines
and rules of composition in their work and how these techniques can be used in modern
day digital media. After the lecture we went back to the hostel to start working on our
concepts. The other students had their mid terms the following day and were pretty busy.
We met our fellow students at the college at 9 to start working on the project. We only
had about 2 hours to do so, because at 12 we were expected to attend an informal buffet
with the ambassador of The Netherlands Wim Geerts. The lunch took place at a nice little
cafe near China Town where they served us a delicious meal. Mr. Geerts talked about the
relationship between Canada and the Netherlands. After this lunch we went back to the
hostel to get a little rest and to get changed for the formal reception at the Art Gallery of
Ontario. At this reception Hans Horbach gave a short speech about strengthening the
relationship between Canada and the Netherlands and how Digifest plays a role in it. The
reception was wonderful and we got to meet a lot of people from different fields. After the
reception we decided to go home and rest for the next day.
At 9 AM we attended a presentation held by Tracy Kitts, acting CEO of the National
Business Incubation Association. The presentation was at the Corus Quay where Digifest
also took place. He talked about business incubation programs, but it felt like we were a
bit out of place. The presentation was interesting, we just didn’t expect such corporate
After the presentation we went to register for Digifest and attended the first keynote held
by Claire Boonstra (co-founder of Layar). She talked about the future of Layar and where
they are heading. This presentation was open to all visitors, but after her presentation she
gave a personal workshop to us and our fellow students. She talked about the Layarcreator
and gave us secret information about the future of Layar. Then we went back to
the college to work on our individual concepts. In the evening we had another dinner with
the other Dutch invitees like Claire Boonstra and Michel Elings.
We went to the Chorus Quay to attend to lectures. The first was by Michel Elings, cofounder
of TRVL. He talked about their new magazine application and how they were
going to revolutionize the business of magazine applications. Then we got a keynote
speech by Lotte Meijer who talked about every single step in creating an interactive
installation and all the things that went wrong during this creation. The best keynote I’ve
seen the entire week. Around 2 PM we went back to the college to really work on our
concepts since the presentation was on saturday.
The day of the presentation. My group and me came up with a brilliant plan. We would
use Layar as a tool in our interactive game of crossing the square. Every time you would
stand on one of the four corners of the Dundas square, you could look at the three other
remaining corners and see a different option for each of them. One would be a sun, the
other rain, and the last earth. By choosing one of the options (by walking towards them)
you would change the environment. If you would for example choose the sun, the square
would get a desert-like feeling to it. By choosing water three times, you would turn the
square in to the bottom of the ocean. This way, it would be fun for people to cross
multiple times and thus creating more and more energy. The user could also see how
much energy he has generated by playing the game. Unfortunately our concept didn’t
win the competition,however it was fun working with my group.
What a week it has been. Full of new experiences and new friends. I want to thank the
Dutch Embassy and the George Brown College for giving us this great opportunity. It has
truly been an inspiring 7 days.