Playable City Sandbox: Zoomscape Zoetrope

Zoomscape by Jack Wates and Thomas Blackburn (photo credit Luke O'Donovan)

Zoomscape reimagines the classic ‘zoetrope’ to translate the variety of ways we move through urban spaces and cities into a new interactive visual experience.

A line of tree being lit up by different colour lights.
Zoomscape by Jack Wates and Thomas Blackburn (photo credit Luke O’Donovan)

Zoomscape will invite visitors to Queen Square to sculpt trees with light through their movements. From pedestrians and scooters to cyclists and cars, Zoomscape responds to the many speeds of movement that define the modern city. In this interactive night time experience, light will bring shape, colour and movement to these slow moving beings.

In celebrating trees as living sculptures that can actively be transformed by our own movements around them, the work asks us to consider our relationship with the natural world. As an expenditure of energy, movement through our environments is intrinsically tied to the production of CO2, and in this installation, urban trees, which are often referred to as the ‘lungs of the city’, can appear to breath.

Zoomscape showcase took place 5 -6 July 2023 at Queen Square.

The Team

Jack Wates is a London-based artist, designer and educator. He has a background in architecture, and a specialism in working with light and technology. His practice is formed around the production of spatial experiences with projects taking form across a wide range of disciplines from public realm art projects and multi-sensory installations, to architectural interventions, scenography, lighting design and the production of images. Jack is interested in the notion of ‘performative’ installation – art projects that can evolve, transform or respond to interaction, to produce powerful spatial moments. Jack has worked with institutions such as the Barbican, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Wellcome Collection, RIBA, British Music Experience, PACE Gallery, Kallos Gallery, Onca Gallery and Roca Gallery. Alongside his practice, Jack teaches part-time as an associate lecturer on the MA Interior & Spatial Design course at UAL and as a senior lecturer at the Instituto Marangoni in London

Thomas Blackburn is a creative technologist with a specialism in sound, lighting and video. He has previously collaborated with Jack on commissions for the Brighton Digital Festival and Light Night Liverpool, as well as on independent art projects, such as Storm Room, a site specific intervention in the Lethaby Building in London.

About Playable City Sandbox 2023 

Playable City Sandbox is a creative research and development programme. Watershed’s Sandbox methodology provides a facilitated space where participants have the chance to transform an experimental idea to a working prototype over three months of rapid research and development. 

Playable City Sandbox is part of the MyWorld IDEAS programme, funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund to establish the West of England as the global centre of creative technology excellence.