A hand holds a device which looks like a lotus flower opening

Extant has been awarded a major grant from the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts for its new project, Flatland, which will use interactive technology and an immersive installation to widen access and engagement in the arts. The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts supports collaboration between organisations with arts projects, technology providers, and researchers who want to use digital technology to enhance audience reach and/or develop new business models for the arts sector, created by Nesta, Arts Council England and Arts and Humanities Research Council

Extant's £125,000 award will allow us to develop our ground-breaking work with haptic devices in cultural settings begun in our project 'The Question'. Extant will be working once again in collaboration with Janet van der Linden from the Open University's Department of Computing, and Dr Adam Spiers, a robotics specialist based at Yale University.

The 12-month Flatland R&D will create a new personal haptic navigation device – which makes use of the sense of touch – and a large-scale immersive installation, to explore how people use their senses to experience a narrative in a performance setting. The installation narrative is inspired by the 19th century satirical novella, Flatland. It will be set mostly in darkness and feature live actors, a physical set and pre-recorded and live audio delivered through headphones and speakers.

Within this immersive world of sensation and sound, the aim is to integrate and test the personal haptic navigation device which will guide visitors through the space both physically and narratively. This will investigate more widely how cultural experiences could be created in a way which does not offer a different experience for blind or sighted audiences.

For more about this fund and other recipients see NESTA's press release.

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