ENGL 698 materials: Grad Thesis
new media installations and grants
Note to Self


The Hollins Community Project

A locative new media and digital installation

(The National Science Foundation grant for this collaboration between Hollins University and Virginia Tech originated as part of the “Vivid Embodiment” project at Virginia Polytechnic and State University).


The Hollins Community Project is a locative new media installation that takes place on a trail used by former slaves of Hollins University and connecting members of the Hollins Community , Virginia (USA) during the nineteenth century. The project mixes historical material with in situ virtual narratives and embodied interactions within the space to experiment with the affective and distributed aspects of narrative. The multiple phases of this project reconsider the relationship between historical time, embodiment, and locative media.

Historical material for the project is based in part on the work of, Ethel Morgan Smith, From Whence Cometh My Help: the African American Community at Hollins College (University of Missouri, 2000).

 Collaborators on the project:

Jen Boyle (Coastal Carolina University, English and New Media; formerly at Hollins University)

Steve Harrison (Virginia Tech, Computer Science and Visual Arts)

Deborah Tatar (Virginia Tech, Human-Computer Interaction)

Alli Crandell (Virginia Tech,  MS Science and Technology Studies, and digital media artist)

Matthew Schaefer (Virginia Tech, MS Computer Science);


An earlier phase of this project imagined the exchanges between the physical and virtual interface as a version of an early modern memory theatre. A tagging function has since been included in the interface to explore further the temporal intensities that form up around affect and incipient narrative. Ars combinatoria, an early modern model of “tagging” (parataxic assemblage, process, and affective presence) offers a productive comparison with contemporary spatial ontologies of tagging, and argues for a broadened discussion of the significance of temporal affect in locative media. This work also addresses the potential in mixing historical and contemporary approaches to “new” media.


A final phase of the Hollins Community Project will connect practical and theoretical elements to explore further the following questions: 

How can we re-imagine alterity and difference via the interface?

How can models of the interface dialogue with location-based installations to re-imagine difference: difference across time (historical time) and in time (embodied temporality and affect)?  


Peer-reviewed publications on the project to date:


Jen Boyle and Alli Crandell, “The Hollins Community Project: new media, narrative, and affective history,” Wi: Journal of Mobile Media (Spring, 2009).


Jen Boyle, "Re-Moving Flat Ontologies: Mobile Locative Tagging and Ars Combinatoria in the Hollins Community Project," Proceedings of the Digital Arts and Culture Conference (University of California, 2009).


Other Publications:


Jen Boyle, “Interfacing Affect: The Hollins Community Project,” Proceedings of the first international HASTAC conference, 2007.


Major conference papers and presentations on the Project:


Jen Boyle, “Re-moving Flat Ontologies: Mobile Locative Tagging and Ars Combinatoria  in the The Hollins Community Project,” Digital Arts and Culture, 2009. (University of California, Irvine)


Jen Boyle, “The Hollins Community Project: Interfacing Affect,” HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory), 2007. (Duke University, NC)


Teaching and classroom exercises related to the project:

Jen Boyle, Hollins University, New Media and Literature 2007.   Material for class exercises 2008.


Featured international venues for the project:


The launch of Journal of Mobile Media, 2009 that included live demonstrations of digital art projects and media installations (including The Hollins Community Project), simulcast and networked music in Montreal, San Paolo, and Bologna.


The Hollins Community Project was featured at the blog of Andre Lemos, Coordinator of the Cybercity Research Group, Brazil.


Publications and presentations by collaborators:

Matthew Schaefer, Deborah Tatar, Steve Harrison, and Alli Crandell, “Place as Provocation: In Situ Collaborative Narrative Construction.” Article in Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology  by project participants and designers at Virginia Tech, Center for Human-Computer Interaction.


Matthew Schaefer, Deborah Tatar, Steve Harrison,

Can CSCW Technologies Help Us Re-construct Places? Computer Supported Cooperative Work.


Steve Harrison, The Draw Stream Station or the AVC’s of Video Cocktail Napkins,” a presentation with description and images of the project in the context of interdisciplinary collaboration (art/engineering).