Jacquetta Bell looks at a cool feature of next month's Light Nelson exhibition - the STQRY app.
Cassette players with headphones were the first generation of technology to take over from captions on the walls of museums and galleries. But that is so last century - now that we carry phones wherever we go.
The Wellington company STQRY has come up with an information app that is tailored to the world of arts and museums. They are on a roll, with 12 staff in Wellington, five in the US and 300 customers across the globe, including the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco and the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Closer to home, the World of WearableArt, Nelson i-Site and now Light Nelson are offering the STQRY app to visitors.
Ezel Kokcu and Chris Smith, the co-founders of STQRY, say it all began when they were at Wellington Zoo a couple of years ago and were wondering about the pelicans.
"There was only the information on the plaque next to the enclosure and we wanted to know more," recalls Ezel, "We found a zookeeper who said they had a lot of content including video and images but it was all on his computer and unavailable to visitors."
An idea formed and over the next few weeks Chris developed the system that became STQRY. They then went right back to the zoo to pitch the idea, and had soon signed a multi-year contract.
Asked what makes STQRY different from other similar apps, Ezel says there is really nothing to compare it with.
"We've revolutionised the way you can interact with objects. The standard audio guides are expensive . . . they're only used by large institutions and people usually have to pay for them. There was nothing for small to medium museums and galleries until STQRY offered an affordable means of grasping the technology."
This year at Light Nelson people visiting the Queen's Gardens and surrounds in mid-July will be able to use STQRY to find out more about the works by over 30 artists from around New Zealand.
Trust chair, Brian Riley says STQRY fits with their core aim of being innovative in their combination of art, science, technology and interaction with the public.
"We'd decided we wanted a smartphone application that would allow us to share more information with visitors about the art works and the people behind them," he says.
"We did some research and found STQRY, who've built their success on targeting museums, zoos and city councils - organisations who typically have a lot more information available than they have space to share it."
You can download the STQRY app (from the App Store or Google Play) onto your smartphone, iPad or tablet and you will see the organisations that have stories uploaded in your vicinity.
From here on it is over to you: as you are standing beside a Light Nelson installation, STQRY will bring up the background story, or you can wait until you are home by the fire to read about what you have seen over a cup of tea.
"We're hoping to cover a range of different aspects on STQRY, depending on the artist and the installation," Brian explains.
"It might just be the names of the artists involved, but we hope to also include a description of the work, maybe a video of it being made and links to artists' other works."
- Light Nelson is scheduled for July 11 - 13, based in Queens Gardens, spilling into Albion Square and the NMIT Arts and Media building and campus. Entry is free.
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