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Free app ‘Wander’ lets you choose your own Downtown Austin adventure

Interactive Art in Public Places project launches Saturday

Illustration of people at red abstract sculpture and hand holding mobile phone in foreground
The ‘Wander’ app lets you choose your own adventure in Downtown Austin
Courtesy of the Art in Public Places program, City of Austin Department of Economic Development

Wander, an interactive art project and app that gets users exploring Downtown Austin in an immersive, “choose your own adventure” fashion, makes its official debut Saturday.

The project, which got a test ride/walk during last month’s Austin Design Week 2017, was was created by artists Chris Gannon, Chadwick Wood, and Brockett Davidson, with contributions from local authors and illustrators, under the city’s Art in Public Places program.

Participants can access the installation at Beacon, the steel sculpture at the downtown Central Library’s Second Street entrance and the only physical component of the artwork. After opening the mobile-optimized website/app on a smart phone, one can choose from four possible narratives by local authors Lucas Schaefer, Jessica Topacio Long, Janalyn Guo, and Fernando Flores, illustrated by Austin-based artists Brockett Davidson, Matt Rebholz, Hallie Rose Taylor, and Brian Maclaskey.

After selecting a story, users receive the first chapter of the chosen adventure. As with the Choose Your Own Adventure books and games, at the end of every chapter, participants must making a narrative choice, which in the Wander version determines the location they must reach to access the next chapter of the story.

The Wander project is available in English and Spanish, and the app is accessible to the blind and visually impaired community. The stories are aimed at a wide age range: There are two meant to be enjoyable for children and two for adult users.

For those who don’t have a smart phone or who simply prefer paper and ink, the Wander stories will soon be available as a series of printed books of the stories through Austin Public Library branches.

Wander will debut officially on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 3pm to 5pm, at a free public celebration at the Central Library, 701 West Cesar Chavez Street. (If you can’t wait for that, you can get started on the app at any time.)