Technologies of being: Pervasive heritage
Crofts, C. print (2011) Technologies of being: Pervasive heritage. In: Postdigital Encounters: Journal of Media Practice Symposium, Watershed Media Centre, Bristol, UK, 24th June, 2012. [Unpublished]
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With the affordances of locative media, the heritage industry is rapidly embracing the postdigital era, with iPhone Applications for English Heritage, the National Trust and UNESCO World Heritage sites. At the same time, nostalgia for the past (and the analogue) is creating an increasingly vibrant heritage market and the project of the “archive” seems even more pressing. The presentation explores these issues in relation to a practise-based project based at the Curzon Community Cinema, Clevedon, home of the Curzon Collection, an archive of cinema projectors donated by the Projected Picture Trust. The original cinema was built in 1912 and is one of the oldest, continuously operating, purpose-built cinemas in the world. They have recently won a Heritage Lottery Fund to renovate the building and reinterpret the collection and I am working closely with them to pilot a number of “locative” or “context-aware” technologies (such as WiFi, RFID, QR Codes, GPS, handheld PCs and mobile phones) that will enhance their new exhibit, enabling visitors to gain further insight into the history of the building, projection equipment and cinema itself. The first phase of the project involves a context aware tour of the exterior of the building downloadable as a GPS enabled mobile phone application. Passers-by download an Android or iPhone application that will trigger context-aware audio recordings according to where they are positioned in relation to the building. Digital memories, voice over narration and dramatisation are used to bring the history of the building and the community to life. The second phase uses QR Codes and other sensors to trigger interactive exhibits inside the cinema. 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. One of the key aims of the overall project is to use locative media as the context within which to critically explore both new and old “apparatus” of seeing (as theorised by Comolli, Metz, de Lauretis, et al), and the ways in which we both remember and imagine them. At its heart, then, the project is concerned with the interface between cultural memory and the technological imaginary of the moving image in the postdigital age.
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