IRISH MYTHS, LEGENDS, & FOLKLORE
Every story has a beginning, but in Irish mythology there are many beginnings, middle bits and ends. The Ulster cycle of mythology has some 80 interconnected stories, with numerous characters and stories of warriors, magic, love, greed, revenge, and deeds both heroic and dastardly.
Spoken word storytelling has a long tradition in Ireland, and some the Ulster Cycles stories, including the spic “Táin Bó Cúailnge” (The Cattle Raid of Cooley), represent the oldest spoken word stories in Western Europe.
The traditional art of the storyteller or “Seanchaí” also has a special place in Irish culture. They were revered as keepers of stories, history, laws, genealogies, and literature.
Whilst many people will be familiar with Viking legends through references in popular culture (e.g. via the Marvel Universe, American Gods, Vikings the TV show), there are still numerous references to some of the famous characters from Irish mythology, such as Cú Chulainn, The Morrígan, and Queen Medb in gaming and popular culture.
The Narrator as a Diegetic element
My aim with this project is to present aspects of these stories, characters, events, and places of myth in VR. However, I want to change the role of the narrator. Typically, a narrator is a non-diegetic element. However, with Irish spoken word stories, the storyteller is the focal point and often the story evolves during the telling and with each telling. So, I wanted to bring the narrator into the experience as a diegetic element as part of a diegetic world associated with some of these stories.
Nonetheless, while the storyteller represents a linear storytelling element, I want to enable the user to explore interactive elements pertaining to the story with more freedom.
Employing Network Theory
I also intend to utilise mechanisms in VR to create points of ingress to connected stories and address the entanglement of many stories and characters in Irish myth, as well as be able to (potentially) represent and connect versions of stories told from different perspectives. Take for example, Irish Music Listening’s “Maeve & The Bull of Cooley” narrated by Ronnie Drew (where Medb is the central figure) versus more complete versions of the Táin Bó Cúailnge translated /written by Thomas Kinsella (The Tain, 1969) and Ciaran Carson (The Tain, 2007) based on 9th century and later transcriptions, where more time is dedicated to Cú Chulainn and others. Essentially these are in part the same story told from different perspectives.
In order to address ease of access and try and better connect related stories and different versions / perspectives on the same story, I will use “portals” in VR, so the user can walk from one story world / version to another. Allowing for expansion of the experience through the creation of a network of related stories in VR.
As part of this project, I will be referencing the work of Pádraig Mac Carron and Ralph Kenna (Network Analysis of Beowulf, the Iliad and the Táin Bó Cúailnge, 2013) as this paper provides some interesting insights into how one may address some of the character and story connections found in The Tain and related remscéla (pre-tales).