In late November 2023, the Interactive Technologies Institue’s postdoctoral researchers Pedro Ferreira and Vera Fearns organised two tours on Madeira together with project manager Dina Dionísio and research assistant Maritza Silva. The main aim of the excursion was to implement probes developed by LoGaCulture researchers Anna Bertmark and Mathilde Gouin. The probes, which took the form of sensory maps and postcards, were explicitly designed to elicit participant’s experiences and interactions at cultural heritage sites. 

The visits occurred at the Levada dos Balcões, a short 1.5-kilometre trail and invited permanent residents of Madeira and tourists to participate in a walk individually or in small groups. ” We aimed to gather inspirational material about the Levadas and their diverse inhabitants and visitors to inform our design of an interactive experience as part of the LoGaCulture project”, explains Vera Fearns. During the walks that lasted around two hours, participants filled out the probes, reflected on their feelings and sensory involvement, imagined interactions with more-than-human species, and speculated about the future of the heritage site.

After the excursion, the postdoctoral researchers collected the material, analysed it, and clustered the findings in design potentials and overall design directions. “The design potentials range from creating moments that nurture empathy through multi-sensory engagement to inspiring collaborative conservation through shared wonder, valuing interspecies knowledge sharing, and creating spaces for co-existence, reflection and belonging. These directions are no longer exclusive but are starting points for the upcoming transmedia games”, revealed Vera Fearns. The directions aim at guiding towards caring aspects and directing the designer’s attention towards moments where technologies could be implemented to relate with the environment positively. By adopting these principles, designers can craft transmedia narratives that entertain and foster a deeper connection, appreciation, and stewardship for the natural world and its myriad inhabitants.

The LoGaCulture project continues to explore and innovate, shedding light on the delicate balance between local culture and global tourism. The insights gained from these research activities will inform the narrative and design of a transmedia piece to be developed in 2024/25 as part of the project.