This Playable City Virtual Lab brought together six selected participants from Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio resident cohort. Across three days in July 2021 they took part in virtual workshops, activities and discussions to collectively explore the themes and ideas that ‘Playable City’ evokes today and to help lay the foundations for future plans, projects and proposals.
- Reinvigorate ideas around Playable City and create room for discussion
- Redefine Playable City in a current context
- Shape future calls for proposals, projects and prototypes
Over several workshops and activities that included thinking about the city as a spreadsheet, as a home, as a garden, and as a playground, we identified core themes to take into consideration for the future of Playable City.
Six key themes emerged from this lab, which are:
- Definitions: How can the definition of play be expanded and owned by everyone and especially those who are marginalised and underrepresented?
- Permissions: How can we better understand the different social and cultural pressures different people feel about how they can ‘play’ in public. What and who might consciously or unconsciously reinforce these pressures?
- Safety & Comfort: Who feels safe and comfortable within a space to play in their own style? How is safety and comfort given or taken away?
- Perspectives: How can we embrace the many different ways people perceive cities, spaces and play?
- Details: What details truly build a sense of space for people? How do these change from person to person and how do they shift over time?
- Accessibility: What biases are present in the very materials with which we create or ask others to creative with. How can this create barriers and inaccessibility
Alexie is a freelance photographer/filmmaker that worked at Rife magazine for Cohort 7. As a resident, he is producing a space that makes local co-op multiplayer video games more fun, inviting and accessible.
Imwen Eke is an Experience Designer and social games practitioner. She tours the sensorium of technology, participatory performance & gameplay to explore new conversations & narratives for culturally curious audiences. Her practice was born from the curiosity to examine interactions happening online with the impulse to make something better equipped to expand those conversations in real life. With a focus on creating spaces for adults to play. Her work is in search of new ways and means, to formulate enlightened, critical & qualified perspectives from new voices that we urgently need to hear, free from any restrictions of creative hierarchy, genre or style.
Imwen’s artist website is www.ofcourseitalktomyself.uk
Joseph Wilk is an artist exploring automative forms of expression that utilise new interfaces to work *with* alternative bodies. His experience of disability —living with pain, physical limitations, disillusionment and disconnection— strongly impacts his practice. He deconstructs, misuses and repurposes software & hardware to challenge notions of ownership, narrative and visibility.
Malcolm Hamilton creates playful interventions and tools to help local authorities, planning groups, designers, and communities to interrogate systems and environments. He notes that while empathy and inclusivity are getting more space in some quarters, polarisation and conflict in communities and decision-making are ever present. In response to this, Malcolm strongly believes in using tactile, accessible, active tools to encourage empathetic design from all participants in the process.
Malcolm’s project for Come Together involves re-imagining local spaces through interactive storytelling using a Participation Pack©. These packs contain a range of hands-on materials which participants use to build a landscape while being guided through a narrative. Through this immersive storytelling, Malcolm is hoping to support collaborative thinking and empathetic design while providing crucial data to designers and planners. These Participation Packs© can be posted, enabling participants to engage in the story both physically and digitally via a video call.
Stephanie is a disabled writer, director, dramaturg, workshop leader, performer, theatre marketer, storyteller and producer. She completed a Masters in Film and Literature at the University of York, and Creative Writing at the University of Falmouth. She is particularly interested in adaptation and working collaboratively. She loves talking about the mechanics of story across form. Her company’s, Sharp Teeth Theatre, productions include The Fox and the Child, Parlour Games and Polly: The Heartbreak Opera (Sheffield Theatre Deli, Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol Ferment, Greenwich Theatre). Her directing or writing projects include directing Boxes for Tin Shed Theatre (Theatr Iolo platform), Eclipse for Alice Nicholas, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil and Spooky Ship for Bristol Old Vic, The Changing Room for the Egg Theatre and Bath College, Echoes of the Port for the University of Bristol, Pulling Out and Score for Documental Theatre. Her work is sometimes promenade, sometimes in a theatre, sometimes utilises technology, sometimes is audio-driven, often features voice or narrative. Her first ever job in the arts was through a PM Studio immersive theatre project. She has worked with Bristol Old Vic, SS Great Britain, the Egg Theatre, Creative Youth Network, Beyond the Ridiculous, Hauser & Wirth, Mayfest, Tobacco Factory Theatres, Mercurial Wrestler, Part Exchange Company, Brave Bold Drama, Open Attic Company, Splash and Ripple, Luke Emery, Submerge Festival and more. She was the first recipient of JMK’s Regional Bursary for Assistant Directors on Bristol Old Vic’s Jane Eyre in 2014 and completed the National Theatre’s Directors’ Scheme in 2018.
Vanessa Kisuule is a writer and performer based in Bristol. She has won over ten slam titles including The Roundhouse Slam 2014, Hammer and Tongue National Slam 2014 and the Nuoryican Poetry Slam. She has been featured on BBC iPlayer, Radio 1, and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Blue Peter, Don’t Flop and TEDx in Vienna. She has appeared at an array of festivals and was Glastonbury Festival’s Resident Poet in 2019. She has performed all over the world, from Belgium to Brazil to Bangladesh. She was the Bristol City Poet for 2018 – 2020 and her poem on the historic toppling of Edward Colston’s statue ‘Hollow’ gained over 600,000 views on Twitter in three days. She has two poetry collections published by Burning Eye Books and her work was Highly Commended in the Forward Poetry Prize Anthology 2019. She has written for publications including The Guardian, NME and Lonely Planet and is the co-tutor for the Southbank New Poets Collective 2021/2022. She is currently working on an essay collection and her debut novel.
Marie Foulston is an award winning curator and creative director of playful exhibitions, installations and experiences. Most recently she was Curator of Videogames at the V&A where she curated the headline exhibition ‘Videogames’ and founded ‘Parallel Worlds’, an annual conference on the design and culture of games. In 2020 she was director of experimental games festival ‘Now Play This’ at Somerset House. Across her career she has collaborated with a host of international organisations and brands including the Smithsonian, the Game Developers Conference, London Film Festival, Penguin Random House, Channel 4, V&A Dundee, ACMI, the Art Gallery of Ontario and MoPOP.
Marie led on producing this lab, with the assistance of Watershed’s research team including:
Furaha Asani is a public academic, mental health advocate, award-winning teacher and speaker, mental health advocate, and writer, with experience in community engagement and creative producing. Furaha has a PhD in Infection and Immunity, and a keen interest and passion for global health equity and science in pop culture. She is also committed to anti-hostile environment advocacy and highlighting the racialized injustices caused by borders. Furaha joined Watershed in December 2020 as Research Lead.
Tony is an Inclusion Producer on the Bristol+Bath Creative R+D programme. Tony has worked in community engagement for almost ten years, particularly advocating for young people through arts and technology. He has also worked with organisations as disparate as local councils through to arts organisations to explore what resources they offer, and to who, and whether they are fit for purpose. Through this work he has built projects which ask big questions about the purpose of our civic institutions. In the past that has meant developing projects exploring heritage organisations and the narratives they share, as well as how they are governed, or rather, who they are governed by.
Zoe is Watershed’s Environmental Emergencies Action Researcher. As part of Bristol and Bath Creative R+D, Zoe works with creative institutions, SMEs, businesses and freelancers to explore and co-develop a framework for climate action. With a background in climate justice youth organising and policy advocacy, Zoe has campaigned at the local, national and international level for just responses to the climate crisis. She is also a writer on visual arts and the climate emergency. She previously coordinated the UK Youth Climate Coalition international team, leading the UK youth delegation to the UN Climate Conferences pushing for climate reparations and support for climate migrants. At Amnesty International and Climate Strategies, Zoe worked to ensure international climate activism and research co-produced impactful results with those on the ground. She also previously sat as youth representative on the UN Taskforce for Climate Displacement.
Cultural Recovery Fund from Arts Council England