Document is an interactive installation  that records situated history through the assimilation of historical images and stories  narrated by pedestrians in Washington Square Park. This project has been developed by Marcus Pingel, Karl Mendonca, and myself.

Document was presented at M.I.T's Media in Transition conference and the Critical Themes conference hosted by the Media and Film studies department at the New School University.


Document Project in Washington Square Park.



Document is an interactive storytelling installation placed in New York’s Washington Square Park constructing a polyphonic oral narrative through the assimilation of historical images and stories recorded by individuals in the park.

The installation is a column-like wooden kiosk that plays an uninterrupted stream of stories recorded during the lifetime of the project, accompanied by a real-time "mix" of live video and archival photographs. People can interact with the installation by listening to the stories or use the "Tell a Story" button to record an experience of their own.

This paper will introduce the project briefly covering the design process and the public response to the installation. Theoretically, the practice of oral history will be examined from within the context of what John Berger calls the "landscape's address", where the physical experience of Washington Square Park both during the recording and playback of stories becomes necessary to maintain the spatial resonance of the stories. Further, we will discuss the ethical implications of documenting and (re)presenting appropriated material and argue for the elimination of any form of editorial intervention or an internal / external system of categorization / ranking.

Lastly, given the recent decision by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to redesign the park, the project will be assessed in terms of its affordance as a counter-hegemonic platform for contestation.


Document Interface - historical images were shown in perspective and mixed with live video from the space.


Historic images were accumulated from archives at the NY Times and Historical Society.


The design of the kiosk was influenced by monuments in Washington Square and the original wooden arch.


Listening to stories.


Project image.


Construction image.


Writing software in Max/MSP/Jitter.


Max handled the video and audio recording and playback - this is the screen in record mode.


Construction image.


Testing the audio and images.


Testing height with a cardboard prototype.