Participation & Immersive Media

This lecture focuses on Cinema engagement and cinematic history/heritage…

  •  Steve [Guest lecture from last week) He was a social historian [interest in history from below]
  •  Interest in Cost, visitors, segmentation, time telescope
  • Immersive, how are museums personalising things…? Apps, Online tailoring experiences, VR headsets, Video recording etc
  •  Passivity, engagement, gameplay to introduce dialogic / 2-way-engagments (collaborative) [Museum media, Discuss exercise & reading]
  •  How do you make participation meaningful? The tension between the two? Why is that being used? How can it be done better?
  •  Technology can often/sometimes take away from that experience.
  • Informational forms of technology and entertainment, and evaluating the experience [Experiential, immersive]
  • How do you display techniques affect experience
  • Covered in glass? Removed from you? Creating distance…
  •  We are only discussed the one museum
  •  @Bristol [Science Museum], moving floor, sound effects, adult nights, doing really well… a lot of kids focused during the day.
  • There is a lot to explore, very interactive, exciting and engaging experience…
  • Attempting to do lots of different things, touching things. Eg. This is what snake skins feel like… (Visceral engagement)
  • What are they trying to achieve with technology? Museum publish report (check these out)
  • M-Shed, is historical and contemporary but also very personalised…
  •  Possible bricolage and mixture, a complexity of constructing a museum within contemporary culture…
  • Possibly make comparisons between institutions… possibly reflect? 3x 500-word reflections

Guest Lecture – Charlotte Crofts

Palimpsests and Magic Moments: Rural and City Centre Cinema going in the South West

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  •  Iterative design process, making something and testing it
  •  Propose something and test the idea rather than properly make it…
  •  Annette Kuhn- cinema going / cinema memories
  • Palimpsest – ancient documents with hidden meanings… and layers of information

Locative Heritage Apps

  • Curzon memories app –
  •  The lost cinemas of Castle Park
  •  Engaging young and old, collaborative working, interview, filming etc.
  •  Historical contexts
  • Funding project reapt
  •  App Furnace…
  •  Sustainability and longevity of apps? Possibly unsustainable… Mobile web-based platform rather than….
  •  5 cinemas situated within castle park, being in the location where things happen… arm chair mode

Mapping memories inside and out…

  •  INT: QR Codes and Ext: GPS / Manual Mode
  •  QR codes, simple and effective, simplistic is often best
  •  Content was triggered by physical location, GPS…
  •  Mapping interface…
  •  Iteration, joe reed, GPS triggered music, you can’t control their environment; take this into account when designing
  •  Made scratch content, linear, tested it, it doesn’t have to be a linear experience people need to be free to explore and engage
  • People need, to be honest, use 15-year-olds
  •  QR codes on inside GPS on outside
  • Locative /Experimental Design [Performing memories, oral performances, dramatisation and re-enactment]
  • Performing memories – oral history / audio/ reconstruction / dramatization
  •  Putting in the scene [ Mise-en-scene/ Archive/ Rephotography/ Dissolves / Close-ups…]
  •  Trying to find magic moments, what might people encounter?
  •  Reminiscing, exciting to be standing there within that place
  • Learnt culture, history and society, a nexus of cultural /social
  • Shared memories / Curzon achieved
  •  Education officer – Cathy pool
  •  Heritage lottery funded memories celebration day.
  • Characters spoke and came to life…
  •  Own voice over possible detracts from the experience.
  •  Kathleen and George Diamond / Emplaced and embodies
  •  People pointed, physical memories, situated within geography
  •  Worked as a ‘button boy” in the 1930s, remembering Stanley Newton up in the projection room
  • Conflicting memories / Contested histories
  • Not the official story, multiple discourses surrounding different people, you must navigate which choice to believe
  • Juxtaposition of oral history, achieve and dramatic reconstruction

(memory is fallible) opinion based

  • Museums are caught up on telling the truth rather than onions
  • Aubrey and Mary Wilcox
  • Shared remembering
  • They argue about their own memory: its perceptive
  • Colin Cooper
  • Collective memory, rehearsed and well-constructed
  • Accessing oral history in the auditorium
  • Weird electric charge -> immersive, feel something about where they are standing
  • Susan Sikora
  • Snoggers corner’ à torchy green (usherette) reaching out and touching the radio
  • Discursive memory tour, atmospheric on location
  • If you make stuff test it and record their responses
  • If you test with will informed people you get good feedback
  • Embodied listening – we are affected by our cinematic experience (physical response) à magical responses
  • Jon Taylor
  • Habitual Memory (remembering and re-enacting) cinema going has changed
  • Remembering the practices, he was doing the action
  • Memory is in place and embodied
  • App allowed them to access personal memories of the past- multiplex is completely different experiences
  • Terry and Jean Blurton, place as prompt / recreate
  • Lady Julia Elton
  • Well spoken
  • App has a range of different voices, stratifies seating -> look at class division as well as unity and bringing people together
  • Lots of food memories
  • Steve Hutchkins
  • Visceral response, kids running down the aisles.
  • Terry Blurton
  • Built barrel – Objects
  • Journey to the Curzon
  • Remembering pathways
  • Catch the train to get to the cinema, peppers ghost, superimposition
  • Glass window, disused – trying to recreate her as a child
  • Cycling across the mores in a side – car
  • Muriel Williams
  • She was in the cinema when it was bombed
  • Visible shrapnel
  • She wrote it but she still felt moved, being on location produced a very different experience that just on your own
  • Effect / affect
  • Film was Rio
  • I don’t think they realised how close the bomb was, could have been hit or coming our of the cinema
  • Get the interviewee to nod
  • People discussing memories
  • Remembers a friend dying -> survived D-day but died due to standing in the doorway
  • Captured memory
  • Magic moment because you can see what’s being described
  • Re-photography / palimpsests

Annette Kuhn, 2002, p 20.

  • Layers of memory, meaning and history à digital tech may be able to reveal this…

Magic moments

  •  Jo Reid, magic moments and situated media-scape 2005 p290)
  •  Visiting a parallel world, see if it creates relationship between physical environment and digital technology/media interface
  • Creates an object that you carry around (rose povright of splash and ripple)
  •  Through another’s eyes
  •  To hide technology so that you are fully engaged with the physical environment
  • A Mise-en-scene for remembered events (Edward Casey p 189)
  •  Dream on- Bristol writers on cinema
  •  Uses cinemas to explore city
  •  A city navigated by cinemas, where were these?
  •  Landscape across which cinemas are dotted around
  • Lost cinemas of Castle Park App
  •  Where the cinemas used to reside
  •  Blue velvet curtain…
  •  Was the busiest shopping street in Bristol – destroyed
  •  Link to twitter to navigate responses, twitter changed their API (many things don’t work anymore)
  •  Be aware of technology breaking and changing
  •  Consider longevity and sustainability
  • Trying to create those magic moments
  •  Castle Street District

Journey to the gem…

  •  Actors recreated memories
  •  Benjamin price
  •  How has the geography of the city changed or not changed?
  •  Bring something that is not their alive
  •  Dialectical montage/ temporal and special oscillation
  •  Interesting parallels

The Regent…

  •  A lot of audible acts
  •  You would dress up, it would be a large event

Sweet spot

  • Outdoor screening of the first screening à mad about music [huge organisation]
  •  How did you find people?
  •  Cathy pool had contacts
  •  Checked historical records à rein acted them, reconstruction and dramatisation
  •  Get in with a physical location locate something and attach it to an institution
  •  Curzon (1 year)
  •  Lost cinemas was a 3-month project à not working on it full time
  •  Slightly rushed, evaluate it potentially?
  • Made apps on app furnace, 1st designed and tinkered, create buttons
  •  Geographical create spaces on the map, JavaScript copy and paste JavaScript
  •  Developer also helped
  •  Not everyone who used it had a twitter account, be mindful of this
  •  People tweeting about what they experienced
  •  Prototype
  •  e.g. Pornstar name… people enjoyed that
  •  Curzon people using the cinema – defined demographic
  •  Target audience was people trying to understand
  •  Must have a target audience… hone things in…
  • projection hero
  •  QR codes?…
  •  Design for now, maybe it’s not supposed to have longevity
  •  Make it into a one-off event? Control is difficult to gain
  •  Websites may responsive, make it responsive to use on a phone… more control and more accessible
  •  Lots of things to think about, possibly group with people
  • headphones? Immersive, personal – shutting the world out
  •  Look where you’re going
  •  Meaning full participation
  •  Pop ups? To gain a demographic
  •  For next week meet in the centre
  •  Jenkins reading next week
  •  John Dovey cultural value

Own Examples:

Immersive Media…

An immersive company that prides itself in the ability to virtually capture any space or area due to its high-quality image capturing service, describing themselves as “the leaders of the immersive experience”. (Immersive Media, 2017) This is a practical application to so-called immersive media…

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The Visceral Screen: Between the Cinemas of John Cassavetes and David Cronenberg By Robert Furze…

Visceral Media & Heritage Experiences…

  • Draw on senses primarily? although both embodies senses and cognitions work together to interpret a particular experience…
  • Are our memories more important or easily recalled if we remember our embodied or visceral responses?
  • Draw on emotions such as shock, empathy, happiness?
  • Create unique perspectives…

Cardiff National Museum & CHAPTER visit (15th February 2017);


We were also able to visit Cardiff Museum and CHAPTER, this was an incredibly enlightening experience because I feel that it provided me with a personalised experience of truly immersive media. Visiting both places gave me an expanded understanding of how items of value are structured and laid out in terms of importance as well as drawing my attention to just how carefully spaces are organised and coded in an attempt to mediate and govern our behaviours and interaction with exhibits. I felt that in particular, I got the most out of an exhibit within CHAPTER by an artist titled Nástio Mosquito because of its complete awareness to these effects and the subsequent responsibility to interact with visitors. I felt that this exhibit was incredibly immersive and personalised due to the way Mosquito invites you to completely subvert traditional museum etiquette, provoking you to touch, interact and question all elements of the carefully constructed and symbolic spaces. It is interesting to mention that immersive museum media normally targets younger audience members however, this exhibit was strictly for 18+ due to its content. This is incredibly interesting because this piece did truly offer an incredibly personalised and immersive experience that not only provoked you to question and physically interact with the piece itself but it also simultaneously drew your attention to just how coded spaces can be and the subsequent effects this has on our movement, behaviour and levels of engagement.

Here is a Document that entitles my visit in greater detail: Cardiff Museum Trip

Immersive (Locative) App Testing & Thoughts…

I took the opportunity this week to test some of the locative heritage apps that were discussed in previous lectures…

Testing the Lost Cinemas of Castle Park:

This app was designed by Charlotte Crofts in partnership with Calvium Ltd, it is free and available to smartphone users. I downloaded this app onto my iPhone 6 from the Apple app store. It’s description states…

“The Lost Cinemamas of Castle Park App is a location-based audio tour of the forgotten cinemas in Bristol’s once thriving cultural centre, Castle Park, which was destroyed by the Blitz during WW2. Featuring 13 cinemas and spanning over 100-years of cinema exhibition, the app automatically triggers context-specific stores about Bristol’s cinema heritage in the places where it actually happened” 

I began testing this application by walking to Castle Park, under the impression that this would be the starting point of the locative trail. However, upon opening the app, to which it informed me that I was out of range of the centre of Bristol and it encouraged me to use the manual mode rather that the automatic and locative approach. Although, this was a well-made app in the sense that immersion and consistency were achieved through its stylised design, audio integration and simplistic design. The audio, in particular, was very immersive in the sense that the loud, chatty raw of the crowd when selecting particular areas helped to create an atmospheric and immersive experience although I recommend that users interact with this app when using headphones to block out their actual surroundings.

However, due to the broken and slightly outdated nature of this locative app, the experience of this app was detracted slightly. It is also important to state that optimum immersion is more likely to be achieved through the use of headphones and accurate GPS co-ordinates. Within this app, the use of layered ambient audio proved to create an atmospheric experience that in practice would work well to immerse and personalise the user’s experience. My experience of this app did immerse me within the historical contexts of Bristol’s heritage whilst creating a personalised experience through the use of headphones. It is also important to note that personalisation is also created within the contexts of applications based on this concept because this approach creates a sense of appeal and relatability to those users who are already familiar with the area of Bristol which could create some sense of cultural and historical capital whilst also changing the users original idea of a particular location or space that enhances their cultural awareness and informed relatability.

Although in terms of the app use, immersion was effective although it is still important to consider that when using the application itself, you attention is usually directed towards your smartphone rather than the surroundings in which you are meant to be observing often go unnoticed, with only minor looks and glances upwards which can detract from the experience and initial purpose of the application itself.  This strong focus on the device or smartphone can not only detract from the experience of heritage engagement but also faces the potential to divert attention so drastically that one could put themselves in dangerous surroundings or create a hazard, especially when exploring a bustling urban city like that of Bristol.


Testing Fortunes app:

I also decided to download a Bristol-based locative app that was titled ‘Fortunes’. The digital adventure begins at the M-shed, and invites you to become empathetic and embrace your spirit of a poor but entrepreneurial journeyman that intends to become mayor of Bristol in a 60-minute exercise that takes you around various dotted checkpoints or locations around Bristol. This game is based on the premise that in order to obtain wealth and positive reputation, you have to travel around the various markers that are visible on screen, the premise is that you hit ‘good’ checkpoints that are marked green that often contain lost items; by collecting these your subsequent wealth and reputation increase. However, along the way, you also have to avoid the bad markers that are depicted as red areas which include objects or people such as constables that accuse you of stealing. If you encounter one of these bad markers, points from your reputation and wealth decrease… for instance, when walking across pero’s bridge… I was met with a notice that stated… “Time for a bath? Maybe, but unless you want to share your bath with rats best stay out of the harbour, you loose 5 respect points,”  thus demonstrating the points based ‘RespectOmeter’.

I have a number of issues with this application. Firstly, the starting location is at Bristol’s M-shed, you cannot start this excersice/adventure until you are present at that GPS location. The starting excersize then instructs you to effectivley go back on yourself and head back towards the arnolfini via Princess Street, this seems highly illogical and greatly detracts from the overall experience of this locative app. Secondly, as you are instructed to hit these markers, I began by leaving the M-shed and then heading back over the the other side of the docks, there were some pointers over towards the milenium square area, as well as ones that are on the opposite side of the docks. So, again, I found myself following an illogical path or trajetory to hit these GPS co-ordinates which ment that I was often going back on myself which seems pointless and is frustrating.

Thirdly, another issue that surrounds locative, game-like heritage apps although seem inovative and participatory in theory, in practice, the gamified elements within the app often dominate or undermine the original educative purposes of that heritage application. As you are instructed to ‘find’ these object via GPS cordinates, it means that for the most part you spend the entirity of the time staring at your device rather than actually looking at or even interacting with your surroundings which seems completely illogical. It has become increasingly prevalent that attempting to strike a balance between gamified or participatory media and educational media is very complex and hard to achieve without one undermining the other.

Another issue I have with this locative app is linked to the accuracy of the GPS check points themselves. For me these issues stood out from the very begining of use, it was very ambiguos of exactly where the checkpoints were. Upon opening the app, although it instructed me to be at the M-shed, the app only recognised and notified me of range when I had started to pass the M-shed. These again, are only minor issues but they all compact to create frustration and give the general impression of poor workmanship that detracts from the ‘immersive experience’. It is interesting to mention that whilst using this locative heritage app that when experiencing miss-matched and unclear GPS based frustration; this overall experience annoyed me and made me feel quite tense, this tense and agrivated visercal response also lingered for a short time afterwards. Also due to these issues with GPS accuracy and app responsiveness, this again further encouraged me to stare at my device in disbelief, I found myself asking hopeless questions such as… “Is this it?” “What about here?” “Does it actually want me to go that close to the waters edge?” “Is that safe?” “What is even the point?”

These issues had such a dramatic impact on my overall experiences that by about 15 minutes in I had lost all hope in this app and to avoid further frustriation and subsequent tension I decided to abandon the experiement all together. This stands in for the vital importance, and how considering the build quality, balance between education, entertainment, and immersion, if these factors are over looked this can lead to the user completely abandoning the application all together. So it is now clear that, locative apps not only have to initially capture your attention and interest but they also have to sustain it. I feel that a 60-minute excersize is to long in terms of trying to sustain the users attention unless encorporating a number of differnt aspects. This also leads me to think back to my experience of Bristol museum. Similarly the museum attempted to strike a balance between old and new technologies and education and entertainment but again, much of the technology within the museum was of poor quality, was unresponsive or failed to work all together. It’s this kind of scenario where poor technological intergration greatly undermines the overall experience. Although the Fortunes application was created in 2011, we obviously are now in 2017 and technological affordances had dramatically changed, so when this locative app was originally created, it may have produced an innovating experience of Bristol’s cutlural heritage whereas nowadays we know the developing limitation of contemporary and dynamic technology, so again the Fortunes app is very outdated. Therefore, it is largely important to consider the technological limitation and the future affordances associated with natural progression when creating a locative heritage app.



Chapter (2017) Nástio Mosquito: Transitory Suppository: Act ♯III Light.Boxed. Available from: [Accessed 16th February 2017]

Crofts, C. (2017) Immersive Media Design. Media Culture 2. Available from: [Accessed 6th February 2017]

Kidd, J. (2014) Introduction: On Museum Media’, in Museum Communications and Social Media. London and New York: Routledge.

Jenkins, H. (2013) ‘What Constitutes Meaningful Participation?’ in Spreadable Media Creating Value and Media in a Networked Culture. ,pp.153-195

Pervasive Media Studio (2017) Curzon Memories App. Available from: [Accessed 6th February 2017]

Immersive Media (2017) About Us. Available from: [Accessed 12th Febuary 2017]

 Furze, R. (2015) The Visceral Screen: Between the Cinemas of John Cassavetes and David Cronenberg. Film Studies. PhD. Dublin City University.

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