Vistory App: first thoughts

AP: Being technologically challenged (i.e. no android device…), I have only accessed this from the Vistory website, which in itself has much to offer but I can only comment on the static content rather than the app in action. The selling points of this site are clearly the access to historical materials plus the comparative function -to see the ‘now’ with the ‘then’. Google translate can handle the information on some of the pages however the voiceovers on the actual clips are difficult to analyse without subtitles. Commentary is an anchoring device, thus the meanings/representations constructed are difficult to consider without fluency in the Dutch language. I would also like a search function to aid my research purpose using this site. There may be one on the app, but on the site I have not seen one.  The snap locations map helps with this though, as it can point you in the right direction on the map if you are looking for a particular place. The app appears to have the function to highlight historical footage for you when you are on the move – something my iphone owner team mates will experiment with.
Considering the De Certeau text, the implications of this app’s function extend the capabilities of the pedestrian speech acts of the ‘city walker’, the “long poem of walking [which] manipulates spatial organisations no matter how panoptic they may be” (De Certeau p101). Not only can the walker now subvert the city order in terms of behaviour and walking pattern/location, they can create a dialogue with the city’s history whilst inhabiting a spatial position within the present.  What must be considered is the historical accuracy reliant on the Vistory app and its contents – still selected and created by people and governed by availability and access etc (also as a researcher rather than walker, it is important to consider Sorlin’s comments on the use/value of historical films/newsreels – true research here would compare newsreel footage with print news coverage of the time in order to identify subjectivities/trends/gaps/intentions etc. Remember that the importance of an event in one location can be emphasised through repetition).

Nevertheless, the layers of the city come to the fore. The past of each location moves closer to the experienced present. It would be interesting if this app had a fiction film function (or a sister app), to demonstrate the manipulations identified in David Bass’ text. The outsider/insider views could be revealed to the city walker, highlighting the possibility of the construction of the ‘multilayered reality’ of Foucault’s heterotopia.


One thought on “Vistory App: first thoughts

  1. Robyn: I agree that inclusion of fiction film (or a sister app) would certainly be very interesting. Although it would have less historical and educational purpose, I think it would add an element of fun to the app. It would be great to notice how spaces have been represented or manipulated for the purposes of ideology and popular culture compared to how they actually appear, and whether representations in fiction film have altered spectator perception.

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