2nd Story uses augmented reality technology to map personal stories onto local places. Imagine holding up your phone to an empty staircase in Vancouver’s Blood Alley. The 2nd Story app recognizes the location, and a woman appears sweeping the stairs. At other locations a voice in your ear tells of arriving in 1973 during Gastown Days; working in the 80s for the Friendship Centre; a love affair celebrated with an annual collision. Time is yours to travel. What is hidden can be shown. Multiple perspectives mingle with your present day experience as your explore the visible and invisible social architecture of this much-mythologized and little known place.
For this project, personal stories from and about the area known as ‘Blood Alley’ in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside have been gathered and documented. The area has been chosen for its long, often constructed, history, and as a microcosmic example of a neighborhood in transition: a Single Room Occupancy hotel and shelter stands across the alley from a new condo development with boutiques and restaurants on the ground floor. Nine of these stories were adapted into short videos by a team of film and theatre artists. The videos download onsite into the 2nd Story app developed by media artist and creative coder Jesse Scott, making it possible for visitors to discover these hidden stories for themselves. Our interest is in cultivating human connections in fragmenting times: using the ancient power of storytelling together with our portable powerful technologies. In association with PHS Community Services and the SFU Office of Community Engagement, we’ve created an artistic experience unlike any other, and a set of tools we can take to other places.