Anywhere aimed to encourage participants to explore hidden places and untold stories, and reflect on the nature of city exploration itself while receiving the benefits of close personal contact with a guiding companion. It involved location-based activities spread across multiple locations in the city exploiting media designed to be displayed on mobile phones, puzzles and challenges, access to a cave and elements of live performance. At its core, the experience relied on human ‘doubles’: performers whose job it was to follow, observe and communicate with participants in order to choose and schedule appropriate location-based activities, guide the participants to the appropriate locations, and help them trigger those activities, while remaining unseen.
Anywhere was hosted by Nottingham’s Broadway cinema and media centre, which provided facilities for the event’s start-point, front-of-house staff and organisers. The event lasted four days, with around 10 participants per day experiencing a tour. Each participant was assigned a dedicated performer (their ‘double’) for their tour (lasting approximately an hour). The close contact with the double allowed the visitor to be supported during navigation and to be helped when unexpected events occurred.
Up to three participant-double pairs would tour concurrently, starting their tours in a staggered manner in order to avoid clashes at fixed points such as the start and end. Each experience followed a general, flexible structure:
A short briefing introduced the experience
Participants were guided (by the double who remained hidden from them) across the city in order to encounter a selection of locative experiences designed to exploit particular aspects of the urban environment
At the end of the experience the participant would return to the starting point either on foot or by tandem
The various stages of Anywhere are explained in detail from the participant’s perspective in the following sections.
Every participant’s experience began with a short briefing session during which several forms of the participant’s private information were processed. Aside from requesting a security deposit for the equipment used during the experience, photographs of participants were taken. Having been processed, participants were instructed by front-of-house staff on the basic usage of the mobile phone on which the tour software was deployed. In a nutshell, participant-double pairs were equipped with paired Nokia 6680 mobile phones. Participants wore a headset to access audio content and phone calls from the double. The phones used a commercial 3G network for voice communication and data exchange via an event web server. Throughout the briefing, the double remained hidden from the participant, although they accompanied them throughout.
The tour begins with a video on the participant’s mobile device. A voice-over prompts participants to follow the video and so begin their own walk through the city, reflecting on the nature of cities in general and where they might head if they were a tourist.