I am finally getting stuck into the project that has been rattling around my brain for some time now, which began with the simple desire to make an interactive picture storytelling scroll.
In case you are not familiar with the term, picture storytelling scrolls have been used to tell stories through pictures for several thousand years, with the first recorded scroll being traced back to 6th Century India. These scrolls, around which storytelling traditions have developed in many parts of Asia and the Middle East (and which possibly evolved into European visual storytelling traditions such as the Italian “Cantastoria”), tell a story by mapping it out in a series of visual images, or one huge image containing a complex narrative journey which can be guided by the picture storyteller during their performance. (Below: segment of Indian storytelling scroll)
Anyhow, I’ve been interested in ways to make this guided journey through pictures an interactive one. How can the listeners, the audience, the onlookers, the absorbers, fully enter into the story and let their own imaginations influence and deepen the journey? How can people become sucked into a story via their emotional and mental involvement, and also their physical, tactile and spatial involvement?
The project in hand is to create a scroll version of Joan Aitken’s The Last Slice of Rainbow, a very magical story which I was very attached to as a child. With a large, rose-print covered eiderdown ready to start work on, I began designing layouts and trying to figure out how the narrative would travel around the square panel of fabric. And how would it be held up? Traditionally, these scrolls were wrapped around tall, heavy poles and unrolled as the story (literally) unfolded.
Then a new idea occurred – to create a storytelling scroll that would be laid on the floor, with onlookers/participants seated around the perimeter, and the story being told around the panel like the moving hand of a clock. A design has been settled on, which has turned the story into a complete, 360 degree landscape:
Now though, I am wondering how it would be for a single listener/participant to be seated in the centre of the scroll, phsically embedded within it, with the storyteller guiding the journey from the outside, encouraging the participant to see, touch and move their way through the story.