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Pakko De La Torre // Creative Director

Open Waters explores Halifax past with augmented reality of Collection: Recollection  | SaltWire

Open Waters explores Halifax past with augmented reality of Collection: Recollection | SaltWire

HALIFAX, N.S. — The old stone-clad structure of St. Patrick’s High School has been a memory for nearly seven years now, replaced by the flat, grassy expanse known by some as the Quad, where Windsor Street meets Quinpool Road.

The grass grows wild, laid bare in two strips by pedestrian-made criss-crossing paths — a.k.a. “desire lines” — so neighbourhood residents can cut a few more seconds off their trips to Starbucks or the Atlantic Superstore.

But the memory of what was once there is brought back to life through the magic of technology, and an app-based augmented reality experience called Collection: Recollection, launched this week as part of Upstream Music’s annual Open Waters festival.

While the festival itself has deftly shifted to an all-online event for its music programming — with superb presentations of performances by violist Sarah McCabe and Halifax composer Behrooz Mihankhah on its first two nights — Collection: Recollection can be experienced in-person at any time by downloading the free app to a smartphone or tablet and heading to the Quad.

The project is a collaboration between three unique Nova Scotian talents; award-winning artist Despo Sophocleous, who gathered the images, musician and music therapist Danielle Jakubiak, who created the accompanying soundscape, and internationally renowned guitarist Amy Brandon, who tied the visuals and audio together in the app to create the virtual environment that shifts as you stroll the site.

“It ended up being an amalgam of all of our different strengths,” says Brandon from her home in Truro. “For example, Despo is an extraordinarily talented visual artist, and much of her work involves a lot of layering of images. You definitely see that influence in the piece, because we’ve created this hall of mirrors-type structure on the field, built out of historic images of St. Patrick’s High School.

“It looks a little bit like one of the pieces that she’s made, come to life.”

Collection: Recollection is best experienced late in the afternoon, before dusk, when the images on the screen aren’t competing with the sunlight, but it’s not so dark that you can’t see your way around properly. The site was chosen because of its history, its central location, and the safety of a large, flat open area where you don’t have to worry about wandering into traffic like a Pokemon Go player gone astray.

The creators will be onsite in person on Monday at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the project, help users with any technical issues they might have, and to see how people experience the installation in their own personal way. You can register in advance for free at

Brandon was brought to the project by her friend Jakubiak, with whom she’d worked through the Centre for Art Tapes and the annual Bleep in the Dark experimental audio event. “She created this surround soundscape that changes as you walk through the entirety of the field,” explains Brandon, who suggests participants should take their time exploring the site with the app to get all the sounds of the area, from the caws of the crows to the rhythmic clank of construction machinery.

“The whole project was centred around how machines might perceive memory, and how humans and machines would experience history differently,” she says.

“That’s where the hall of mirrors idea comes in, the whole structure is a computer’s version of what St. Patrick’s High School might be like in a dystopian future.”

The app is available for free from either the Apple App Store or Google Play, and Brandon expects that Collection: Recollection will still be available to experience for at least a week after Open Waters 2022 wraps up on Thursday.

For more on Open Waters 2022, and its diverse schedule of livestreamed performances and filmed events, visit

This content was originally published here.