Individual Work
Twists and Turns

'Twists and Turns' is an app-based geolocative fiction for mobiles created by advertising agency J Walter Thompson for the Melbourne Writers' Festival in 2014. Taking advantage of the city's famous laneways, the app unfolds a multilinear story modelled on the physical locations through which the user/player/reader moves. Decision points in the physical landscape mirror nodal points in the city layout, such as specific laneways, corners, doorways. Beginning at Melbourne Town Hall, users trace paths through the adjacent laneways of the central business district with each narrative strand ending at the Writers Festival site at Federation Square.

Like other locative narratives, 'Twists and Turns' can only be meaningfully experienced in the site for which it was created. Exploration of the narrative takes place literally through the user's exploration of the city environment. The sense of reader / user agency is enhanced through the app's audio component addressing the reader/player in second person (i.e. 'You are walking past the blue door...').

Technically, the app comprises three different stories (ranging in length from 15 to 25 minutes perusal time), each of which offers four possible versions. Users download the app to their mobile phones and use headphones to listen to the audio narration. The screen displays an accompanying map displaying the user's current position within the city grid.

Unusually for literature, the geolocative format creates a timelock in which the time taken to experience the narrative is equivalent to story time. In this sense it is closer to audiovisual media such as Flash fiction.

'Twists and Turns' is an example of the kinds of locative experiments in 'narrative archaeology' that have emerged since GPS was made available for public use in 1999. The first of such location-specific works is generally agreed to be Jeremy Hight and collaborators' '34 North, 118 West' (2004) which geo-tagged semifictional narratives to a disused LA railway site to explore hidden histories of the area.

While 'Twists and Turns' may not be easily accessible for geographical or technological reasons, a good sense of the experience it offered is available here.