Saturday, 21 April 2012

Screen Heritage Goes App! The Curzon Memories Project

Engaging video about the Curzon Memories App, a practice-research project by Charlotte Crofts, funded by the Digital Cultures Research Centre and the University of the West of England. The video was made by Sy Taffel.
My thinking about locative media as a means of exploring screen heritage is informed by the “apparatus theorists" of the 1970s (Baudry, Comolli, Heath, Metz, Mulvey, Wollen, all collected in Philip Rosen’s seminal collection Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Reader, 1972), who were interested in the cinematic apparatus both in terms of the equipment of production and projection and in terms of the conditions of spectatorship (the engaged spectator in a darkened communal auditorium). At the [Curzon Memories App] project’s heart is a concern with both the culture and technologies of seeing: how we might use new screen media as a lens through which to understand the old cinematic apparatus and in turn historicise the new media. The idea is to use locative media to add depth to the everyday architecture of the cinema beyond that which is immediately apparent, and so enhance visitors’ experience and understanding of the cinema and the collection. In this sense, the project is centrally concerned with the interface between cultural memory and the technological imaginary of the moving image. [from Charlotte Crofts, 'Technologies of Seeing the Past: The Curzon Memories App', Paper published in the proceedings of the Electronic Visualisation and the Arts, London 2011 pp. 163-4]
One of the cinemas cited [in David Bordwell's recent post about the threat of digital conversion to art house cinemas] is the Art House Cinema, in Champaign-Urbana, a University town in the middle of corn fields in the mid-West (where I happened to live for a short spell [...]) [...].  I think it might be where I first saw Terence Mallick’s Days of Heaven as a girl of nine, and have been haunted by it ever since. This, combined with my involvement with the Curzon, and indeed the Whiteladies Picture House campaign, made me feel how urgent it is to preserve screen heritage beyond the conservation of the films themselves – which is in itself incredibly important – but there’s something rather pressing about preserving the cinema-going experience in today’s multi-screen world: the apparatus of cinema, the built environment, the technologies; which is at the heart of the Curzon Memories App, and Projection Hero in particular. [Charlotte Crofts, '', The Curzon Project, January 31, 2012]
I hadn’t really thought I was making a documentary the whole time I was developing the app, but with hindsight, my experience as a filmmaker couldn’t help but inform the project and trying to articulate my work [...] really helped me to see that ‘experience design’ is essentially an extension of documentary practice – we all want to move people and make them see the world differently – I’m just excited about doing that in the actual place you are interested in exploring. [Charlotte Crofts, 'Curzon Memories App as interactive documentary', The Curzon Project, April 12, 2012]
[I]t is quite clear that printed works of reference are a thing of the past. I do not here mean, of course, the polders of misinformation contained in the poorly triangulated written texts of Wikipedia: rather I have in mind the breathtaking and illuminating elegance of Touch Publications and Charlotte Croft’s ‘Geo-spatial, Geo-temporal’ app to guide a tourist around a physical site. Why slap a guide-book around when your phone will tell you everything you could possibly want to know about what you are looking at. This will not destroy the publishing, on whatever platform, of unenhanced alphanumeric texts but it surely must transform the presentation of printed information. (And, ok, it’s the first major change in that since the codex started to replace the scroll in the 4th Christian century – this technicism stuff is easy to fall in with.) And Charlotte’s application isn’t going to make the tourist a citizen of the world but it will immeasurably improve their experience of travel. [Brian Winston on i-Docs 2012. Wikipedia link added by FSFF ! :)]

Like Brian Winston in the last of the above quotations, Film Studies For Free (an ever-upbeat Cassandra) has seen the future: it comes on little screens!! 

OK, so maybe that's not such an original (or all-encompassing) prophesy. But FSFF really has seen a remarkable, and original, slice of the future of 'pervasive' and 'locative', mobile Film Studies. 

The little screens in question here, with their "virtual-experience-design", are very much attached (in this particular project) to a very memorable, big screen, in three dimensions, with its associated history and real-world experiences.

The Curzon Memories App, the beautifully designed outcome of an innovative research project by Charlotte CroftsSenior Lecturer in Film Studies and Video Production at the University of the West of England, provides a "locative media experience" designed to enhance visits to the Curzon Community Cinema, Clevedon, and its 'Living History' collection of cinema technology, through "context-aware oral history and dramatisation".

The above video sets out brilliantly the scope and functionality of the app. FSFF's favourite-sounding element is Projection Hero, a "miniature cinema installation which you can manipulate with your phone - open the curtains, dim the lights and play the movies - including the infamous Pearl and Dean 'Asteroid' theme and poignant interviews with retired projectionists". It looks forward to trying this out in the cinema itself.

The App is free. Just click on the relevant link, below, to access and download it. It's very much worthy of your exploration and support, even if you live nowhere near Clevedon - a lovely, little, English town not far from which FSFF's author happened to grow up, and in which she was forever traumatised by X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes... 

If you like it, please take time to rate it, and leave an appreciative comment, too, at the digital store of your choice. 

The further links below will take you to much more information about, as well as research consideration of, this wonderful project and will also tell you all about Crofts' latest, innovative, project. 

1 comment:

Joe Byron Smith said...

Thanks for bringing this up! I live very close to the Curzon in Clevedon and its cool to see someone doing practical and community focused research into its history. Its a great place! They have some great old apparatus on show there too.