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Friday, June 9 • 4:30pm - 4:50pm
“Exploring Complex Histories Through Augmented Reality: Proof-of-Concept Multimedia Experiences of The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area”

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The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DEWA) spans forty miles along the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border1 on lands that members of the Lenape, Dutch settlers, and modern-day residents have all called home. While DEWA is easily accessible via multiple highways, the long and complex history of the park itself is less readily accessible. DEWA was formed in the wake of the failed Tocks Island Dam project, a project which saw eminent domain used to remove individuals from the area for a project which never came to fruition. Currently, the DEWA website devotes one short entry (which requires multiple levels of navigation from the homepage) to the history of this topic.2 While book-length accounts of the history of the project exist, (e.g. Damming the Delaware) these publications are at least a decade old and their presentation of information may not be as accessible to the public as other methods of presentation.

In 2021, the Sierra Clubs of New Jersey and Pennsylvania began a campaign to convert DEWA from a national recreation area to a national park;3 a campaign which has received critical reception from several groups.4 As time passes and as efforts and conversations to convert DEWA to a national park gain ground, the narrative of this area may find itself pushed into the background due to competing interests. As a scholar and artist born and raised in Warren County, New Jersey (which is home to part of DEWA), I believe we must find ways to center the history of the land and the people of DEWA in the visitor experience.

In Spring 2022, I completed a one-week guest artist residency at Peters Valley School of Craft (located within DEWA) entitled “Creating Augmented Reality and Soundscape Experiences of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.” During this residency, I developed proof-of-concept immersive augmented reality (AR) experiences of buildings within DEWA. This talk will combine autoethnographic reflections on place and process with explanations of the process of building interactive AR experiences on a variety of platforms. I will demonstrate an interactive AR experience built in Adobe Aero combining photogrammetric scans captured in Polycam with soundscapes recorded in-situ. This experience will allow attendees to experience the DEWA from the conference location. I will discuss how AR experiences can be used on or off-site to enhance the visitor experience of DEWA and situate this project in the literature from leisure studies, tourism, and user-centered design. Throughout each of these stages of this talk, I will also address questions of access, accessibility, and representation.

1“Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, https://www.nps.gov/dewa/index.htm.
2“Tocks Island Dam Controversy.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, https://www.nps.gov/dewa/learn/historyculture/tocks-island-dam-controversy.htm.
3Nark, Jason. “Delaware Water Gap Could Become the First National Park in Pennsylvania, New Jersey.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 6 Nov. 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/experience/america/national-parks/2021/11/06/delaware-water-gap-national-park-sierra-club-new-jersey-pennsylvania/6317193001/.
4Novak, Steve. “Delaware Water Gap Park Proposal Opposed, amid Questions on Boundaries, Hunting and History.” lehighvalleylive.com, 29 Apr. 2022, https://www.lehighvalleylive.com/warren-county/2022/04/delaware-water-gap-national-park-idea-meets-opposition-questions-on-boundaries-hunting-and-history.html.


Stephanie Vasko

Michigan State University

Friday June 9, 2023 4:30pm - 4:50pm EDT
PS 405 (Design Center)