Adelaide Road
Curzon Memories
Escape from the Tower
Gorillaz: Escape To Plastic Beach
If Only
Our Broken Voice
Sculpting With Scent
Surreptitious Soundplay
Theatre JukeBOX

Curzon Memories App

The Curzon Memories app uses a number of ‘context-aware’ platforms to guide users around the Curzon Community Cinema, Clevedon. It captures the cultural history of one of the oldest cinemas in the West Country, using real memories and historical reconstructions triggered by GPS sensors and QR codes. The app enables visitors to gain further insight into the building, its exhibitions and the history of cinema itself. Users can access a dramatized history of the cinema outside the building before getting QR code prompted oral histories in the atmospheric interior. An exemplar work that records the community’s cultural history and makes it available in new ways.


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Calvium: Escape from the Tower
If Only


Film producer and researcher
A technical wizard
A supportive and involved heritage site
An Education and Learning Coordinator
Volunteers to tell their stories
Strong GPS signals
QR codes
Arduino circuit board, LEDs,
An app developing tool
A carpenter
Wood, velvet and gold brocade

Cooks Tip

Conduct video interviews. Firstly they give a rich sense of the history of the cinema and its importance in the living memory of the local community and secondly they can provide amazing quotes for audio tours, which really bring the experience to life.


Take one filmmaker/researcher interested in the effect of digital technologies on cinema, Charlotte Crofts. Give her university research funding to explore her ideas at one of the oldest still-working cinemas in the UK.

Link Charlotte with the cinema’s Education and Learning Co-ordinator, Cathy Poole, to seek out community members with stories to tell about the cinema’s past.

Using initial ideas and images, work up a design specification with Calvium, considering both the historical and present aspects of the Curzon.

Without being too concerned about content at this stage, consider the functionality of the app. Agree both a structure and descriptors to create an initial pilot.

Before moving on, test the GPS signal in Clevedon around the Curzon to see where it’s strong enough to work with the proposed app.

Using some mocked up some regions on the Calvium Player on the iPhone, start to get a feel for what the experience will be like.

Start thinking about the next, indoor, phase of the project. Have a conversation with Tom Melamed (Calvium) about issues of interior location sensing. Consider piloting 3-4 different technologies.

Think about the relationships between triggering methods; RFID, QR Codes, Motion Sensors, using the phone’s interface to give Instructions, and what is triggered; audio, video on the iPhone, hidden micro projectors, website.

Try to limit the interaction with the phone as much as possible so that the user can experience the physical environment and interact with the exhibits in the Curzon Collection, rather than be immersed in the phone.

Think about other elements that could be created alongside the app; a mini-projector, a digital Pepper’s Ghost, localised audio and projections triggered by movement through the cinema.

Speak to Maurice Thornton (Curator of the Curzon Collection) about possible stories to use for the app when outside the building.

With the help of Cathy Poole, gather recollections about the Curzon from different generations for the Heritage Lottery Funded Curzon Memories project. These memories will give a rich history of the cinema that can be used both in the app and by the Curzon to celebrate their centenary year.

Think about the narration for the audio tour. Male and female voices could be used, perhaps often contradicting or at least giving different points of view of the cinema’s history. This could allow different voices and versions of the cinema’s history, acknowledging the inevitably contingent nature of interpreting the archive.

Record scratch audio on iPhone Memo app.

Mix in a bit of historical dramatization, bringing the family that built the cinema to life – Victor Cox and his stepmother Blanche Cox (nee Harwood), an operatic diva snapped up by his father James Newton Cox. The spices of hardheaded entrepreneurialism and the glamour of cinema combine for added richness.

Start to develop the look and feel of the app. Decide on landscape orientation to mimic the aspect ratio of the cinema screen. Open the Curzon’s curtains on app start and use the language of the silent film inter-title for the navigation screens.

Speak to Will Luton at Mobile Pie about the best orientation for the app, i.e. with the home button on the right or the left and whether it should be fixed or be able to flip. Continue to research the optimal interface to situate the user in relation to the building without detracting from the experience of being there.

Test the first iteration of the app with a small group of people and review feedback. Develop and build on what works and rethink the rest.

Explore the use of augmented reality in the app. Speak to Jo Reid to see if it would be possible to scroll through images of the past to the present and mock up some examples.

Begin work on the interior interface with QR codes triggering memories, such as usherette “Torchy” Green catching you snogging in the back row.

Inspired by this memory, introduce the character of Mrs Green, an usherette who guides users around the app. Jo Reid suggests that using a person associated with the venue in the app can bring a great deal of pleasure and surprise to the visitor when they then encounter them in real life, as evidenced in Calvium’s Escape From the Tower app. Cast real-life Curzon guide, Jacqui Bressington as Mrs. Green.

Continue to work on the mini-projector; Projection Hero. This is where the visitor can learn about the role of the projectionist through interacting with a miniature cinema.

Enlist the help of Tarim, a technical wizard, to bring initial plans for Projection Hero to life. Use a laptop, housed within a large white box, to form the cinema screen, framed by working velvet curtains and lights. Then add a curtain mechanism powered by a motor controlled by arduino, all hidden in a recess behind the computer screen, together with speakers and all the power cables. Ask Simon Dorgan at Urbi et Orbi to make tiny little hand-carved cinema seats.

The Projection Hero miniature cinema screen will show a unique QR Code that the user scans as part of exploring the interior of the Curzon. This triggers a video to play on the iPhone. Once the video has finished playing the iPhone displays a screen that allows interaction with the installation. Test the prototype in the Watershed throughout Electric December.

Test the app in Clevedon again with a mix of expert users from the Pervasive Media Studio as well as Curzon volunteers. Review the feedback to continue developing this pilot into the final iteration.

Smooth out issues with code and user interface, finalise script and rerecord scratch dramatizations and usherette.

Finish by taking the app live on the App Store (as well as developing a version for Android) in time for the Curzon’s centenary in 2012.

Diners Comments

You kind of wander around because it’s such a fantastic space and you want to see as much as you can and it’s helping you, it’s really atmospheric. And especially when they’re talking about snogging on the back row and all that stuff was just brilliant. It was absolutely fantastic.

I loved being able to see the architecture outside and I always think when the descriptions are really closely tied to what you can see and look at then you’ve kind of got your magic moment because you actually can see exactly what’s being described.

It triggered memories of every other cinema I went to as a child. And just that whole thing of how it makes you think about things you saw at the cinema or things you went to. And the buildings, there’s a sort of a scent to them as well. You know, it’s not all modern plastic smells, if you know what I mean.

I’m suddenly seeing in concrete terms a lot of possibilities that I’ve never seen before in terms of thinking about what this technology can do in heritage terms, and what it means and what’s possible. I think it’s incredibly exciting, actually



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