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Crow’s Holiday Corner Interactive Installation

Updated: May 7, 2021

For this project the Digital Storytelling Team partnered with Crow’s Theatre in Toronto and Jacob Niedzwiecki of Cohort in Calgary to help Crow’s Theatre bring to life their holiday diorama and transform it into an interactive experience.

The Holiday Corner was envisioned by Crow’s Theatre as an installation to be placed in Crow’s Theatre’s storefront window to bring to the neighbourhood a spirit of inclusive celebration during the dark winter months, made specially difficult by the lockdowns brought about by COVID-19.

Crow’s Theatre commissioned a team of visual and theatre artists to create this piece. The team included Soyeon Kim - Visual Artist, Marie Farsi - Curator & Project Lead, Jareth Li - Lighting Design, David Mesiha - Music & Sound Design, Isabel Martins - Art Installer & Assistant, Joseph Bauman - Carpenter, Jessie Potter - Production Assistant. The team was partnered by Jacob Niedzwiecki of Cohort and The Digital Storytelling team’s Kris Boyd.

The Digital Storytelling Team collaborated with Cohort to create a unique interactive and web based platform allowing audiences to scan a QR code at the installation and curate their own audio experience corresponding to the installation’s stunning visuals. Through this platform audiences were able to control the balance between musical and ambient elements in an immersive soundscape which was created to take full advantage of Binaural and Ambisonics audio technologies.

Cohort (a fellow Digital Strategies grant recipient) has a mandate to create unique and open source tools that empower emerging artists to realize transmedia experiences while adding collectively to the tools available to the community at large. Our partnership with Cohort was especially successful because The Digital Storytelling team was able to design the approach and parameters for the platform while Cohort undertook the programming and technical implementation. The outcome was the development of a unique transmedia installation that provided audiences with an interactive and immersive experience. The platform was made available and shared with other artists who were working on the project in addition to being more widely disseminated through our Community Knowledge Sharing seminars. In fact, that same platform is slated to be further extended and used by Veronique West in the coming months as part of her interactive-media piece Szepty/Whispers exploring mental health and her Polish roots.

Crow’s Holiday Corner digital components reached more than 2465 audience members over the course of the 6 weeks that it was on display for. Above all, it allowed us to achieve some specific targets including:

  • Transforming a static installation into a transmedia experience that engaged audiences in new ways and opened up their understanding of immersive and interactive art

  • Empowered a theatre company (Crow’s Theatre) to grow their demographic reach and visibility in their neighbourhood and among new audiences previously oblivious to the company’s presence

  • Made visible the art institution as a living organization within a neighborhood’s tapestry

  • Allowed a new group of artists to envision their work as transmedia storytelling unhampered by technical challenges

  • Allowed for the collection of much more specific engagement data metrics which is crucial in envisioning and strategically capitalizing on future opportunities to expand reach to audiences previously invisible to the presenting organization

  • Supported development of open source software, free for use by future artists

Process and key outcomes

  • Partnered with another Digital Strategies Grant recipient to leverage resources that foster collaboration, this was beneficial for resource sharing and efficiency

  • Added unique and useful transmedia tools to our toolkit made available to artists across the community

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