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Landguard Fort Re-inhabited: Textual and aural narrative, uncovering and creating stories between place and audience

Part 2 Dissertation 2014
Rebecca Lee
University of Brighton UK
Landguard Fort, Felixstowe, has a rich history beyond that which physically remains on the site. It has been witness to historically significant events but also contains subtle references to an accumulation of more personal stories. With empty rooms void of the original content, but a carefully preserved building fabric, the atmospheric spaces appear to have been suspended in time. The combination of a rich collection of compelling stories, a lack of formal interpretation and a pervading sense of absence has become the stimulus for this work.

There is an increasing tendency for museums and heritage properties to rely on the use of digital interpretation strategies. The use of ‘augmented reality’, as a way of combining the ‘real’ and the virtual, is becoming a popular tool for extending the boundaries of the museum providing access to information outside of the museum’s physical fabric. This study seeks to set another, ‘low tech’ strategy against this and examines how narrative and language can be used to develop a productive and considered relationship between narrative content, spatial context and audience, and become part of curatorial and design strategies for heritage sites. The power of ‘environmental storytelling’ is explored through engaging with narrative discourse and the spatial implications of language from the linguistic perspective and in the tangible spatial context of Landguard Fort.

Heritage sites, such as Landguard Fort, where the spaces are the exhibit, have a latent potential with an extensive array of partial yet vivid stories, which hang, interweave and overlap in the spaces, waiting to be released. Focusing on thresholds, both physical and immaterial, this research explores how a careful engagement with processes of transition, blending and oscillation between subjective and objective, imagined and real, then and now can animate a place, by stimulating the imagination of its temporary occupants through acts of ‘reading in space and time’. There is no single author, no single curator but a multitude of different voices and times encouraging chance happenings, unpredictable collisions, and the showing of incongruences and similarities between narrative content and spatial context.

Rebecca Lee

Karin Jaschke
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