Chinese Arts Now launches a new version of its APP – Augmented Chinatown 2.0
A live, immersive audio tour through Chinatown with augmented reality visuals and miniature dramas behind the facades.
London’s Chinatown, and the area it sits in, has been the stage for a multitude of stories over its constantly evolving history. Augmented Chinatown 2.0 brings some of those stories to life in an immersive augmented reality experience which mixes striking visuals, miniature audio dramas, atmospheric music and a guided tour through the area’s past and present and how it became the centre of the Chinese community in London.
“Walk through Chinatown and see beneath the surface it presents… walk through these streets and think about the dreams that have brought people here… People seeking a new home, love, fortune. People seeking comfort, familiarity, kinship, community.”
Start the tour in Newport Place and walk the streets guided via your phones by writer and narrator, Joel Tan. Over the course of an hour, Tan’s narration looks at Chinatown’s history, architecture and culture, as well as ideas about belonging, identity and migration. He evokes the sensory impact of the streets, the ornate decorations, the tempting smells and tastes, and distinctive sounds. He takes us to the four gates, only the last of which was created by Chinese artists, and tells how the iconic pagoda was demolished in 2015 without consultation.
At five locations along the way, there is the opportunity to delve deeper into hidden dramas and, for a few minutes, plunge into the lives of characters including Kim, a stripper who met the Beatles; Anita, a homesick waitress; and a woman whose home is being raided by immigration officials.
Donald Shek’s augmented reality adds another dimension, creating dazzling visual overlays on the real-life environment. Tall flowers blossom from the pavement, lanterns light up overhead and newspaper banners hang down from the buildings. The soundscore, composed by An-Ting Chang with DJ QuestionMark, includes interactive elements in response to both the augmented reality and the miniature dramas.
Helpful guidelines for using the app
- Suggested age range is 16+
- Headphones are strongly recommended.
- Switch off screen lock and enable camera and location in your phone settings.
- The app is best experienced during the day (as in some cases the camera requires a level of reflection off the ground surface to calibrate the augmented reality).
- To maximise the effects of the AR scenes, hold your camera horizontal to the floor.
- The route is in a busy area of Chinatown so please take care!
The app for Augmented Chinatown 2.0 is available any time via the Apple Store or Google Play. You can buy the app, download it, and take the tour at a time convenient to you.
Please note that the Google play version of the app only includes music and the audio tour.
App developer and AR artist – Donald Shek Playwright – Joel Tan Director and composer – An-Ting Chang Co-composer – DJ QuestionMark Sound Designer – Michal Kuligowski
Actors – Mia Foo, Jennifer Lim, David Yip, Daniel York Musicians – Midori Komachi, Xiao Wang