Cinema Rediscovered returned to the Watershed over the last weekend of July, a festival bringing digital restorations and contemporary classics back to the big screen. Programme theme, The Archive Sessions, explored practice and engagement with video, photography and film, where storytelling on screens has grown and where it might lead us. Superact’s Eleanor Pender went along to find out more about In The Shadow.
In The Shadow
It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m heading to the Watershed, Bristol’s much-beloved art-house cinema in the Bristol Harbour. I’m going to see Pervasive Media Studio resident Victoria Forrest present An Archive In Your Pocket, an app that is said to ‘bring photography firmly into the digital age’.
As someone who works with photography, storytelling and telling other’s stories, I was intrigued to see what it was like. What I discovered was a truly interactive platform bringing together photography, video, old film, documents, audio and more to create a multi dimensional experience of someone’s life, their family, their home, their world.
In The Shadow is an iPad app and an interactive version of a photography book ‘In The Shadow Of Things’. The journey started with the book but from there, wherever you go next is up to you as the user. We are introduced to Bron, the photographer’s mother who suffers from OCD. Bron and her family have lived in a house for many years that is completely full of boxes. Every room has boxes upon boxes in them. Leonie offered to help her mother sort through everything, while at the same time chronicling the experience.
This is the world you are invited into, the home of Bron, her husband and her teenage son. The app is an elaborate jungle bringing a huge amount of content together in a new engaging technology that shares video memories, family interviews, taking you into the house and this elaborate process of sorting. You can explore as you wish, there is no prescribed journey.
An Archive In Your Pocket
The archive holds 288 photographs, enhanced reel film, old family documents, memories of all kinds. Hours of conversation exist in a separate audio section of around 80 files. Bron talks candidly about her process, how she lives, how she organises. What at first glance appears as chaos quickly changes to understanding. This is a multidimensional presentation of a delicate, troubled but loving relationship. The app takes the idea of an electronic version of a paper book and makes it so much more.
Seeing family photographs, reading letters, hearing sound recordings, you become a part of the process that Bron and Leonie started together. The interface of the new app demonstrates the possibilities in digital publishing. It creates a fuller, richer and more personal experience for the user. You share their journey while creating your own. Pick a picture, any picture. It will lead you down different emotional paths of a deeply personal, powerful story immersing you in the family’s battle with OCD.
Sometimes painful, sometimes humorous, In The Shadow is a fascinating exploration into the exciting possibilities for digital storytelling.
In The Shadow
Victoria Forrest is a book designer specialising in the design and production of high-quality printed and digital publications for artists, photographers, publishers and galleries. Find out more about her work here.