Ghosts in the Garden

At the risk of being pigeonholed as the interactive garden guy, I took on a second garden-based project in 2012 – this time in Sydney Gardens in Bath Spa. The project was brought back for a second season in the summer of 2013.

In Georgian times, Sydney Gardens was Bath’s pleasure garden, complete with swingboats, labyrinth and Cosmorama – all of which are now long gone.

Ghosts in the Garden is ‘an adventure of choices’: part game, part story, part immersive soundscape, all accessed via a special Georgian listening device. (Don’t tell anyone, but inside the device is a GPS-enabled smartphone that can tell where you are in the Gardens and play audio drama scenes accordingly.)

The device lets you listen to echoes of events in the 1820s and even influence the course of history as you choose which real-life characters to help, hinder, follow or betray, as indicated by where you choose to walk. No buttons, no GUI – you just choose your own adventure by walking to wherever you want the next scene to unfold.

The characters were all based on genuine figures from the Gardens’ heyday, guided by the research of historian Dr Steve Poole of the University of West England.

I wrote one adventure, involving the launch of a hot air balloon; and the magnificent Aaron Minnigin wrote a second story about fireworks and sabotage. The whole project was orchestrated by Rosie Poebright of Splash & Ripple.