An immersive, digital work that explores change and the challenges faced by conservationists today,

Future storytelling technology inspired by our oldest nature reserve

Tuesday 12 May, 2020

Leading writers and creative technologists are working with key organisations in Norfolk, including Norfolk Wildlife Trust, to explore storytelling in a digital age.

It is part of ‘Future and Form’, a landmark project celebrating 50 years of Creative Writing at University of East Anglia (UEA). The project has been awarded £240,000 by Arts Council England and will culminate in a six-venue exhibition and a sweeping interactive and immersive online platform in spring 2021. 

Norfolk Wildlife Trust is delighted to be working with poet, Mona Arshi, at its oldest nature reserve, Cley Marshes. This commission will be an immersive, digital work that explores change and the challenges faced by conservationists today on a coastline adapting to an unstable climate. 

As the project develops, the piece might use opportunities provided by mixed reality and virtual reality, and take place in different locations such as the exhibition centre or the nature reserve.  

Henry Sutton, Director of Creative Writing at UEA, and the project’s lead, said:
“We are thrilled to officially announce this unique opportunity for our writers to venture to the border of where writing meets technology. At the inception of this project, we couldn’t have imagined the unprecedented time in which we now find ourselves. The present circumstances will challenge our writers a step further in the development of their collaborations. Future and Form is bound to deliver exhilarating, surprising results for everyone, and perhaps even more so in light of the exceptional crisis we are living through. We are extremely grateful to Arts Council England for their generous support, and delighted to have such amazing writers and such a stellar line-up of partner venues and technology collaborators for this project. We look forward to seeing both the physical and digital productions as part of our anniversary programme in spring 2021.”

Nik Khandpur, Director of Development and Engagement, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said:
“We are really pleased to support the University of East Anglia’s 50th anniversary of this flagship course. It will be fascinating to see how Future and Form will harness digital technology and how Mona will interpret the landscape and heritage of our very first nature reserve, Cley Marshes, purchased to protect the wildlife nearly 95 years ago. We are hugely excited to be involved!”
Chris Gribble, CEO, National Centre for Writing, said:
“The Future and Form project aligns perfectly with the aims and remit of the National Centre for Writing. It offers an exciting, innovative and visionary way to look ahead to the impact of the digital on literature and vice versa, as well as to investigative ways to imagine literature into an increasingly networked world.”
The venue and other partners UEA has signed up for Future and Form include National Centre for Writing, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, The Forum Trust, Ormiston Academies Trust, Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library with Norfolk Library Service, Norwich Theatre Royal, Norfolk Museum Service with Norwich Castle Museum, British Archive for Contemporary Writing, and Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. 

The technology partners include NFTS’ StoryFutures Academy and Immersive Studios, Norwich, and will be under the direction of executive digital producer Tim Wright. Future and Form will seek to work with further national and international partners. 

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