digital storytelling,  Wales

What a successful festival

I’ve been at the DS2 Digital Storytelling festival in Aberystwyth for the past three days and it’s been great!

On Tuesday and Wednesday, my colleagues Huw Davies, Lisa Heledd and Carwyn Evans ran a Mobile Phone Storytelling workshop. I went to the final screening and the stories were very good. These three people, along with Gilly Adams and Daniel Meadows, are probably the most skilled practitioners of digital storytelling in the whole world.

Director of the Aberystwyth Arts Centre hosted a delicious and healthy pre-festival meal on Wednesday

… then we enjoyed a cabaret show by where a clever alignment of actors against a fantastic animated projection take you to a dark Edwardian world.


On Thursday Dr Daniel Meadows of Cardiff University opened DS2 by presenting the keynote and showed two new stories: one about his early student days at a free photographic portrait studio in Manchester and another about the magic of the internet and the influence an old friend of his called Florence had on a New Zealand writer and a Slovenian composer. To everyone’s surprise and delight, Florence took to the stage to take a bow! Fantastic.


Speaker Shawn Micallef of Murmur spoke next and – emerging out of his talk – there are plans to create a Murmur Aberystwyth. When I first and last met Shawn in 2003, he was just starting out with the Murmur project in Canada and it’s now an international success.

I attended a breakout sessions about Developments in Participatory Media by Lisa Heledd of BBC Capture Wales / Cipolwg ar Gymru and Prof. Hamish Fyfe of University of Glamorgan. Lisa shared some research into new participatory forms and showed three digital stories. Two were different forms made with mobile phones and the other was from a ‘traditional’ DS workshop in Newtown from earlier this month. Hamish compared DS with the Mass Observation Movement of the 1930s and spoke about some exciting research into DS which the University is conducting in the coming year and a new part-time Digital Storytelling PhD role is being advertised soon…


After lunch, John Freyer spoke about his project/book – All my life for Sale. He sold everything he owned on eBay. It wasn’t until I heard John speak that I realised this project was really about the stories associated with objects and I enjoyed this speech.

‘What is authentic media?’ was the subject of Esko Reinekeinen’s last breakout session. The discussion here compared the spontaneous clips often posted on You Tube with the ‘considered narrative’ of most DSs. Interesting points came up about ‘quality of mediation’ and at which point a story might be called ‘unmediated’.

DS2 was a thundering success. Two things I’d love to see at next year’s festival are:
1. Digital stories made by people living in Wales to be shown in the main theatre to the whole audience. None was shown there this year.
2. A practical step-by-step walkthrough the process, because so many delegates were new to DS and wanted to know more about how they’re made.

More than twice as many people attended DS2 compared with last year’s DS1 and DS3 promises to be even bigger so, if you can make it over to Aberystwyth next June, put a bookmark in your diary now.


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