By Sophie Shaw

We ran an article in the last issue of HIP by local author Gareth E Rees that spoke of strange happenings on the beach in St Leonards. As of 1st September, we have access to what happens next by downloading a free app from Zeroh Studios, presented as part of Coastal Currents. Click here to read the article.

From this app we learn that this is only the beginning of a story that will continue to unfold over the course of the festival, and that there’s a level at which how this all unfolds is down to us.

MOTHer has many layers; at its core it is an augmented reality app which will allow you to access a story, presented in four chapters which will be released over the four weeks of the festival. Through the app you’ll be able to trigger each narrated chapter, enhanced with a detailed 3D illustration. The trigger for chapter one is the icon of a moth in the Coastal Currents programme and the trigger for chapter two is illustrating this article (full details can be found below).

Alongside this, as the app also tells us, we are to look out for announcements and triggers in Hastings and St Leonards – which suggests this story is going to spill out onto the streets. Already we can see a physical echo of the story in the dozens  of taxidermy moths which are currently populating the weather station in St Leonards. It seems all sorts could cascade out of this central narrative.

This project revives the geometric moths which many will remember appearing, jet washed, out of the traffic grime, across various walls around town eight years ago. The moth was chosen for that project because moths are all about blending into their surroundings, hiding from their predators in plain sight. These moths proved popular locally and, in sparking conversations, brought out a number of associations people make with moths; they’re a little bit unsettling – a little ‘of the night’. It turns out a lot of people have a moth story. And the project sparked new stories for some, one child became convinced that a moth at the Old Town car park by the Royal Standard had the power to protect cars parked underneath. The outside layer of the project involves people sharing their experiences – of the project directly but also of moths in general, their own stories about moths and any moths they see around town using #hastingsmoths.

There will be plenty of exciting real live moths to find and photograph this month. Rees’ article refers to the (true) fact that the UK has seen much higher than normal numbers of moths this year, and several species of moth which don’t normally migrate here. This phenomenon has been widely reported in the press in a way which falls back on very particular, and increasingly familiar, narrative – apparently they are ‘giant sex crazed moths’ ‘invading‘ ‘from Europe to eat Britain’s ivy’ [taken from the headlines of the Sun, the Mirror and the Independent respectively]. It’s interesting what we fall back on when confronted with the unexpected.

The story introduces a girl called Mia. Moths mean something specific to Mia, this meaning dictates her understanding of what’s going on and, in so doing, determines her actions in the world.

What does it all mean? That is indeed the question.

The MOTHer App is available from the iOS and Google Play App stores. Download the markers as they become available from Install the app, launch the AR and hold your camera over the trigger, making sure your volume is up or your headphones are in.

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