We are wired to be spatial thinkers. We exist in a multi-dimensional experience when you consider your five senses - the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. As I have begun a deeper journey into the wine world, I have become more aware of the senses. The connections between your cognitive and emotional brain and how those entwine as well as collide when information or stimulus is presented.
The same is true in narrative. As we become a culture driven by screens and immediate gratification, our senses are becoming even more relevant to the experience again. The idea of expressing a narrative in only words, means we have merely touched one piece of the multi-dimensional equation. When viewing narrative as a meta layer to a brand experience, it requires us to see a bigger picture. A picture that when captured right, provides a rich context to the overall experience intended. A guiding or north star for what a company aspires to be. A way to make sense of things.
When I step back and open my senses beyond just looking at my screen, I remember the impact of a new car smell. The sound of the door closing on a luxury vehicle vs. an entry model. The white noise injected into a loud restaurant so you can actually carry on a conversation vs. shouting to be heard. The mouth watering senses triggered by the wafting smell of Garret’s popcorn being released across the Chicago cityscape. The smell of a freshly decanted bottle of cabernet or pinot noir and the provenance associated with that moment. The ribs cooking in front of a church parking lot growing up. The awe of seeing Cirque du Soleil for the first time and trying to explain it to someone who has yet to witness the experience. That moment when a singer gave you goosebumps.
Exponential technologies are accelerating our capacity to realize these spatial experiences in either a virtual or real world and or combination of both. I remember the distinct feeling I had when I watched Brainstorm right after graduating from college. Brainstorm is more known as Natalie Wood’s last movie (she passed shortly after its release in a boating accident), then the mind altering experiences achieved in the film. The ability to see, taste and feel the other persons senses really stuck with me all of these years.
The time has come for what I call the Spatial Narrative Era. We have pieces of Spatial Narrative scattered about. We have brilliant transmedia experiences that have been pushing on this subject for years. A project by BradField Narrative called Inanimate Alice was introduced to me 10 years ago when building a start up called Everloop. BradField continues to tell the story of Alice in an amazing use of transmedia as part of their life’s work to impact the imagination of school age children/teens.
My work in the connected car space at Aha Radio brought new dimensions to the combinations of audio + space + speed + place + connectivity to a whole new set of possibilities. As the connected car morphs into Level 4 and 5 autonomy, the idea of spatial takes on yet another narrative context. Perhaps we are now ready to add to the number of senses. We already have the notion of a 6th sense and a recent book by Joshua Cooper Ramo, entitled The Seventh Sense suggested a new Enlightenment in the age of networks. It seems as “things” are now able to tell stories thanks to the emergence of IoT (internet of things), we are now gaining a new sense - modality. Proximity tied to geo-spatial and ambient messaging have become common trigger points in designing for the spatial narrative era.
Is your organization ready for Spatial Narrative? Executing it is one thing, but being in alignment with it is where the real truth lies.