Intangible Heritage

The Dark Ride Project

AFL Dining Room, Melbourne Cricket Ground 06/10/2016 4:00 pm - 4:20 pm

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Joel Zika

Since the early days of the amusement park the dark ride has been a constant feature. Whether in the form of indoor scenic railway, spook house or walk through haunt, it is a universal experience. Taking early advantage of electricity, the dark ride became the earliest example of a fully programmed multimedia experience. It featured elements like triggered sound, lighting and a moving point of view that would not be seen in cinema until years later. With the growing ubiquity of cinema in the 20th century this once revolutionary entertainment became relegated to a position of nostalgic oddity. While many of the media experiences and products of the early 1900’s have been recorded or documented in some way, the dark ride has not. This paper introduces ‘The Dark Ride Project’ a framework for archiving and documenting this unique media experience. The project examines the links between early and current immersive technology and also adopts said technology (VR, Photogrammetry, High ISO CCDs) to store and archive the rides themselves. Rare access to Melbourne’s Luna Park Ghost Train is used as a case study for the system. The examination focuses on how best to record, store, re-experience and most importantly; how to contextualise the experience within a complex web of intangible cultural heritage. The project addresses the limitations of current technology and the gap between real experience and the virtual.