A real world location based interpretation of the digital fiction “The Last Cartographer”. Using augmented reality technology though the application Layar we created an interactive non linear/recombinant narrative that leads the user around Granville Island following the story of two lovers attempting to locate each other in a dystopian future where climate change has put most of the city underwater.  By using mobile technology as the basis of navigation, we put the user in the story where the characters use the same tools (phones) to locate each other. Similarly, by making the setting Granville Island, Vancouver BC Canada the user is placed directly in the context of the original story. In a way a reference to the Dérive of the french situationists, this project explores the different possibilities of a fiction created from possible arrangements of nodes or touch points in the digital world and the influence of the user decisions from real world interference.  

Lacking the ability and technical know-how to code up an app from scratch we employed the use of the app Layar as a proof of concept.


  • Create an interesting digital fiction
  • Explore the possibilities of narrative in a digital context
  • To entertain 
  • Educate, what would a person do if a natural disaster occurs (consider climate change)
  • Showing the possibilities of mobile/digital app technology


  • Media employed
    • digital drawings/illustrations
    • digital photographs
    • text
    • maps
    • some audio 
  • View/exploration devices- smartphone or computer
  • Augmented reality (3rd party app Layar)



Analyzed the fragmented storyline and decided on theme, setting and characters. Essentially taking the story and making it linear to make sense of it.

Abandoned original media content in favour of creating new content

Assigned parts of the text of the story into different characters and created conversational sections out of it. These nodes became the starting point to look for locations that fit the text. 

We Initially thought of creating our own triggers to use in Layar and then place around the island but decided to “hack” granville island instead to use real world image sources that would be guaranteed not to change. We used things like mural art, mosaics, and hanging first nations carvings to base the visual content of the story around.

Searched Granville Island for permanent fixtures that would be scannable and assigned them to parts of the text that related to them. Because of the relation of image to text this broke apart and decreased the chances of the user experiencing the linearity that was a byproduct of initially defining the narrative.

Once the images were selected they were tested in the day and in the evening to see if the lighting would effect scannability and found that the effect was minimal

Created media to display text (iOS text bubbles) and added them to the Layar campaign. 

Decided that extra added sounds were unnecessary in a real world context and would likely create a sort of “sound clutter” for the user when external noise is entered into the equation. Technically, sound takes longer to load and would also slow down the experience considerably but we included one audio experience as an example. 

Used Html and Css to create a web version of the experience.

What you will need to interact with this story :

  • Wifi Connection
  • Layar application
    • (acessible from QR on right or here )
  • iOS or Android device
  • Enabled location services (recommended)
Layar How-to


Keeping with the cartography and false creek theme of the original content provided, Granville Island maps are employed as waypoints for the users to reference throughout their journey. The real world maps that exist for normal navigation around the island have been ‘hacked’ to show the locations of all the nodes of the story when scanned. In addition to this there is a referenceable google map with markers and images of the locations available at every node, with a layer detailing the linear path of the story if the user wishes to follow that path. Below is the map included as a navigational element within the story. It is also accessible by scanning any of the many maps on Granville Island (right).



These images portray examples of the hidden story content that is revealed throughout the experience

Scannable Example Images

These images are currently "online" and are scannable with Layar.