Night walk video will show viewers ‘dream’ Edinburgh

Festival-goers will have a digital tablet and headphones. Picture: Contributed
Festival-goers will have a digital tablet and headphones. Picture: Contributed
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It will be one of thousands of Edinburgh Festival shows which will unfold on the streets of the Old Town next month.

But a new video walk will be the only one giving festival-goers the chance to experience the surroundings as a “dream world” coming to life on screen, guided by a mysterious female voice.

Picture: contributed

Picture: contributed

The futuristic “Night Walk,” which is being launched to coincide with the festivals, is billed as a cross between immersive cinema experience and promenade theatre.

Just 50 audience members a night will set off on their own around the back streets of the Old Town with a digital tablet and state-of-the-art headphones.

As they follow in the echoing footsteps of the female guide’s voice, the action will unfold on screen – and in the ears of each participant – to match the real-life surroundings, “conjuring up a parallel Edinburgh that engages all the senses.”

The hour-long experience, which will start from The Milkman cafe on Cockburn Street, has been described as “an intimate one-on-one video walk”. It was developed by the Fruitmarket Gallery and Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.

The idea is that you hopefully get into a bit of a trance-like state

Few details of the show are being revealed in advance, although several characters are expected to be seen and heard as ticket-holders explore the story, which is described as a tale “layered with history, invention and memories.”

The exact route which will be followed is being kept firmly under wraps, although it will completely avoid crossing busy roads. However, would-be participants will be warned that it will include staircases, steep hills and uneven surfaces in low light, and that the show “may provoke a sense of disorientation”.

The Night Walk event, which will be staged from 8-10pm between 25 July and 25 August, will be part of the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Art Festival.

However, it is hoped it will go on to become a regular fixture on the streets of the Old Town throughout the year.

Cardiff, who has created similar walks with Miller for cities around the world, including New York and Sydney, said: “We’ve been working on the project on and off for three years and we’re still making the film at the moment.

“We were looking all over the city for somewhere that was safe to walk around. We couldn’t find anywhere suitable where there were no major streets you would have to cross other than the Old Town.

“We also wanted to play on the fact that there all these other tours going on in the area.

“Everything looks more cinematic at night and we like the idea that the streets will be much quieter. It will be more intimate and scary – we like to scare people a bit too.

“The idea is that you hopefully get into a bit of a trance-like state where you start to believe what you are seeing and hearing is reality. The effect we want to create is of being in a dream world where the character is playing some sort of game but you’re not quite sure what it is.”

Fiona Bradley, director of the Fruitmarket Gallery, said: “If you’ve bought a ticket you go along to The Milkman cafe to get your device and headphones.

“When you press play to start the walk your screen will come to life, you will see the bottom of Cockburn Street and you will hear Janet’s voice. She will then guide you on your walk.

“You will be watching a film which has been shot entirely on the route. It’s an immersive work of art.”