research design laboratory

Responding to People

There are plenty of ways to tell a story, but through each means there is a consciousness about who will be listening. The trick is to figure out how to expand that consciousness beyond just the storyteller.

Returning The Voices is a recently completed project that we created for Prof. Ronald Rundin of Concordia University's Department of History. As its name suggests, the project is seeking to return voices of an expropriated community to what is now a National Park on the eastern coast of New Brunswick. In taking on this project, we saw value and challenges in presenting established research to a potentially conflicted audience. As the curators of an understandably divisive topic, like land expropriation, both our methodology and eventual treatment required a sensitivity to respect (and not risk alienating) the stakeholders and audiences alike.

With audiences that might include former (expropriated) residents, park tourists, academics, and the historically curious, we sought to allow the project's artifacts to tell the story of Kouchibouguac. With many of the photographs and maps being of poor quality, and with no access to originals, the design challenge was to treat the content in a way that enhanced the quality of media, establish a cohesiveness, find contemporary relevance, and ultimatley contribute to telling a compelling story. A consciousness about making the content accessible to an audience with contextual biases lead us to create an interface that balances familiarity and discovery. In the end we hope we've created an experience that, through the presentation of artifacts, recounts lost stories to newly found audiences.