Digital Media Alumni talk: AR Design for Hidden Histories: Community Engagement, Co-Design, and Interdisciplinary Collaboration

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Digital Media Alumni talk

“AR Design for Hidden Histories: Community Engagement, Co-Design, and

Interdisciplinary Collaboration”

Wednesday, January 23rd

GVU Cafe

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

This talk shares a set of pedagogic and research strategies for developing co-designed AR (augmented reality) digital

heritage games focused on contested and marginalized histories, based on an NEH-funded digital humanities community

engagement course developed over the past six years with community partners including an historical society, state

office of historic preservation, municipality, university archive, and museum of science and innovation. The approach in

teaching and research to this topic is based on work in foundational texts such as Helguera’s “Education for Socially

Engaged Art,” Sanders and Stappers’ research on CoDesign, Bennett’s discussion of the political history of display “The

Exhibitionary Complex,” Dunne and Raby’s approach to critical design in “Speculative Everything,” and Rouse et al’s

interdisciplinary humanistic approach to understanding mixed reality. Projects produced will be presented, including

“Below Stairs,” an AR role playing game that tells the story of an Irish immigrant working as a domestic laborer in a

wealthy household in the 1850s, “The Foerster Files,” focused on the more recent history of urban renewal in the 1970s

and social conflicts associated with economic development in urban centers, “Discover Cohoes,” an AR game about the

major contributions of the Native American nations in the Cohoes area, and “Harriet Tubman: Guided by the Night,” an

AR game and interactive planetarium experience that tells the fuller history of Tubman, through the lens of her STEM

knowledge in astronomy. Best practices will be shared, along with a discussion of key challenges for developing work in

this field using collaborative methods.


Rebecca Rouse is an Assistant Professor in the Department of the Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic

Institute (Troy, NY). Rouse is a core faculty member in the Games and Simulation Arts

and Sciences (GSAS) program, and a member of the Emergent Reality Lab (ERL). With over a

decade of experience working with Augmented Reality (AR) and other interactive media,

Rouse’s research focuses on theoretical, critical, and design production work with storytelling

for new technologies. Rouse designs and develops projects across games, digital heritage,

interactive installations, and theatrical performance, all with the thread of investigating and

inventing new modes of storytelling. This design work dovetails with Rouse’s research in design

methods, media theory, and media archeology.