Cinema Archive: #phonar Post-Photographic Portrait & Reflection

So I came from looking at Coventry archives and struggling to piece a narrative together that can hook a viewer. So I turned to my roots: my father has been in the cinema industry for the most part of his working life and really is an orb of cinema history knowledge. He can tell me exactly how long some films’ running times are, for example. I asked Dad about the Coventry cinemas and it turns out that the Alexandra, or Theatre One, is of great importance to The Kinema in the Woods, Woodhall Spa- where my father’s cinema is. In the 1980s, James Green removed the projectors and the Dolby sound system from Theatre One and installed the sound system at the Kinema which was used until 2011 before the Kinema went digital.

Bingo! Turns out that there are lots of artefacts at the Kinema which were sourced from other cinemas around the country and James saved them from the dump and brought them back to life at his cinema. I decided to go home and see James: asked him to take me on a tour of the Kinema and I recorded him as he told stories about different pieces in the collection; from clocks to the organ. I have photographed the artefacts (admittedly with difficulty because of the vivid reds). So I had audio, pictures and locations. To me it made sense to plot the audio/visuals on a map, pinning where each artefact came from.

I used Google Maps; although there are limitations: layering audio or video is not yet possible; furthermore, as a narrative, viewers need context which I feel needs to be more than in the map description. Therefore, for my ‘artefact’ it would be more of a website than just a map. Realistically, clicking on the organ pin on the map will open the picture and play the audio, then there would be a click link to find out more of this organ and see videos of it being played etc. The platform would be so that people could be educated about cinema, independent cinema and the Kinema. I could have chosen a different map generator, however, Google Maps is popular and already widely used; so engagement will be easier. Had I got more experience in making dynamic maps, then as the audio was playing, parts of the map would then interact such as other pins would light up. Furthermore, I realise that I need ambient sound: such as the ticking clock, sounds of the organ and the lift. Then there is a richer story to be told; the links to the other website need to be clearer so that multiple information can be accessed at the same time. Moreover, after viewing it again, I would like the pictures to be blown up bigger so that there is more focus on the images.

I have considered that audience interaction is key (how Marcus Bleasdale is developing interaction by means of gaming) and that message is in the medium: the map really allows the viewer to see geographically the Kinema’s hidden stories. This is acts as a mashup with maps/audio/visual.

Because of the limitations of Google Maps, I have created a video using screen recordings of the map and overlayed the audio tracking. This is simply to give an idea as to how the map would work, if I had the means to do so. I overlayed the map video over a screen shot of the Kinema’s website. However, on the map itself, in the description boxes under the pictures, there are links to other sites either about the cinemas or what terms mean that are spoken about. Ideally, there would be  written intro above the Map saying:

The Kinema in the Woods is a haven to ornaments and equipment sourced from cinemas all over the UK, in this map, click on the pins to find out what pieces came from where as James Green tells you the story. Under the pictures are links to other websites to find out more.

Screenshot taken from

Screen recording made from Quicktime

Map made using Google Maps generator

Click sounds used from user: nirmatara CC: BY-NC 3.0

Pictures and audio: Kate Green CC: BT-NC

Considered points from #Phonar:

  • Aaron Guy – audience, usability, multilayers for digital archives
  • mashup task/Matt Ford, ambient sounds (clicking) although I would have liked to have had time to record more sounds.
  • Trusted source – did research and spoke to right people
  • Collaboration – James toured me round telling me what he wanted to talk about
  • Distributing a story ‘unknown’ – the stories would otherwise be forgotten

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