Bristol is already a Playable City. Just think of 2.8 Hours Later, which has seen hoards of zombies chase participants through the streets during igfest, or the giant inflatable lifesize bouncy Stonehenge from Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller which appeared on College Green for one weekend in August.
In 2013, we are to officially become a Playable City thanks to a new £30,000 award, the first international award from the Watershed, which will lie at “the intersections of art, technology and culture… pushing the boundaries and encouraging experimentation”.
The award is a challenge to harness creative technologies in surprising and engaging ways.
The £30,000 will create a new work which will be installed in a public space in Bristol next summer before with the aim of then touring whatever is created internationally.
Watershed’s Clare Reddington admits that the definition of a playable city is one which is still unknown, saying that this award is part of their exploration to find out.
In this blog, Clare writes: “We are imagining a Playable City as a counterpoint to a Smart City (where technology is all about infrastructure, services and monitoring). We think people, hospitality and openness will be key – a playable city is a place where residents and visitors have permission to reconfigure and rewrite places, attractions and stories.
“And where better than Bristol to investigate this theme? From street art to street games, in the last five years our city has put itself on the map for its playful approach to public spaces, inviting residents and visitors to get engaged with the city and its creative and cultural future.”
One of the Playable City Award judges is musician Imogen Heap, who often performs live with a glove developed by academics at UWE through which using hand gestures she can control acoustic instruments and her voice, play virtual instruments and manipulate these sounds on stage in front of a fascinated audience.
She says: “I’ve visited Bristol more than most cities as I’ve been collaborating with a few of its many bright minds.
“(Bristol is) a wonderful city that continues to nurture and champion creativity in art and tech.
“I’m delighted to be one of the judges for Bristol’s Playable City Award and can’t wait to see what emerges.”
For more information, visit www.watershed.co.uk/playablecity.
The award is supported and sponsored by a whole host of Bristol-based creative technology companies: Aardman, BDH, HP Labs, IBM, IMDB, The Bristol SETsquared Centre, Sift, Team Rubber, Thirty Three, TLT LLP, Toshiba, University of Bristol, University of the West of England and Bristol City Council; and produced by Watershed with support from Arts Council England.