Before Playable City

Ballon Mapping by James Bridle

The fact that Bristol gave birth to Playable City is no coincidence. It did not appear out of the ether or even represent something entirely new: Playable City gave a name to a movement, seeking to share knowledge and commission new work as part of a programme that was heavily influenced by some of Bristol creatives and projects below:

Mobile Bristol

Founded by Hewlett Packard Laboratories, the University of Bristol and the Appliance Studio, Mobile Bristol’s programme of research ran from 2002-2005. It investigated how pervasive technology could be used to enhance how residents and visitors experience and interact with their physical environment and each other in urban and public spaces. Watershed participated in Mobile Bristol to commission and share creative work around these research questions. 

Igfest 2008

Taking place around the Harbourside in Bristol, igfest was the first festival in the South West to invite people to discover and re-discover the city through playing games in the street. Freed from screens and boards, players of these games roamed the streets hungry for fun. igfest was run by Simon Johnson and the iglab team and was supported by Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio.

Luke Jerram

Luke Jerram’s Bristol-based multidisciplinary arts practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live artworks. Living in the UK but working internationally, Jerram creates art projects which excite and inspire people around the world. Luke’s Sky Orchestra and Play Me I’m Yours are both inspirations to the Playable City movement. 

Animating the Zone

A collection of projects produced by Watershed in 2012-13 which explore the creative potential of Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone which was being regenerated as a new hub for creative businesses in recognition of the value of the creative industries to Bristol’s economy. Working with Bristol City Council and Arts Council England, MAYK and Knowle West Media Centre, Watershed contributed to the regeneration efforts by bringing its expertise in creative technologies to the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, collaborating with artists, technologists, filmmakers, young people, and existing businesses to draw new people and ideas into the area.  

Open City: Guimarães

As part of Guimarães 2012, the European Capital of Culture, Watershed produced a series of artistic commissions that explored how ‘openness’ in city governance can improve the social, cultural, and economic lives of their inhabitants. From James Bridle’s citizen street mapping of this medieval city, Charles Leadbeater’s think piece on the importance of hospitality in cities, to a film imagining a technologically enhanced Guimarães of the future, the programme explores the different ways technology can be used to encourage openness in relation to city development.