China projects

Ed d’Souza and Seth Giddings visited Nanjing and Souzhou, in Jiangsu province, to develop educational and industrial collaborations around XR and AI. More details to follow, but in the meantime here are some pictures:

Centre for Cultural Value

As part of the consultation for the Centre for Cultural Value (hosted at Leeds University and launching June 2020), Dan attended a workshop day in Cardiff:

The Centre is proposing a number of activities and outputs, including developing an independent evidence base, co-creating evaluation principles, seed funding action-research projects, and a working group to explore how to develop impact narratives.

Dan participated in group convserations in relation to the proposed themes: cultural participation; community, place, identity; culture, health and wellbeing.

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The first event will be in February in Leeds. Details here.



researching the superblock

In June Seth Giddings was invited to participate in a two day workshop at RMIT Europe in Barcelona. Cities as Playgrounds: new models for urban play, civic engagement and sociality, organised by Larissa Hjorth and Clancy Wilmott, aimed to ‘consider the possibilities of action research and co-design experiments’ in and around the Superilla located next to RMIT Europe’s HQ. Superillas are urban developments in Barcelona that reroute car traffic and open up the streets for pedestrians, playgrounds and socialising. This workshop took the idea of the superilla, and some direct research engagement (i.e. games) in and with them, as a starting point for considering playful futures for the city.

Other participants included Ellis Bartholomeus, Andreas Rosales Climent, Jill Didur, Emma Fraser, Larissa Hjorth, Troy Innocent, Sybille Lammes, Colleen Macklin, Tomasz Majkowski, Roger Paez, Miguel Sicart, Bart Simon, Manuela Valtchanova, and Clancy Wilmott.

My own contribution included a short provocation, ‘The city is already a playground’, and a presentation on my microethnographic study of children’s postdigital play in playgrounds, and the Lightbug project.

How does your city work?

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The Transforming Creativity research group will be informally joining together with Solent University’s Culture, Media, Place research group to participate in the How does your city work? interactive trail. Part of the Solent University Festival of Ideas, the trail is organised by members of another Solent research group, Work, Inequalities and the Lifecourse. More information on trail here:

Take part in an interactive treasure trail around the city of Southampton. Follow clues and identify landmarks and objects to discover more about the working history of our city, and the challenges we are facing today. This circular walk is approximately two miles long. The treasure trail can be completed individually, but may be more fun as a group!

We will meet at The Spark building (TS on this map) at 1.30pm on Thursday 20th JuneWe expect to finish at the Cultural Quarter by 3pm.

We anticipate that this could be an interesting opportunity to:

– Discuss and reflect on the City of Culture bid (some background here)

– Explore walking as a research method (see for example, ‘Walking, Talking, Making’ methods slideshow by Understanding Everyday Participation here)

– Trace connections between creativity, culture, work, place and equitable participation (in Southampton)
– Meet people, share interests and ideas.

Estrella Sendra shares her PhD thesis findings in Senegal

58698627_10155929702241599_6308146028163891200_nEstrella Sendra, member of the Transforming Creativity research group and Teaching Fellow in Global Media Industries in Winchester School of Art, has recently been to Senegal to share her PhD thesis findings. Her thesis, ‘Two-tier festivals  in Senegal between the local and the international: A case study of the Festival International de Folklore et de Percussion in Louga (Senegal)’, examines the phenomenon of festivalisation in Senegal. It traces, for the first time, the history of festivals in Senegal, and offers an in-depth theoretical analysis drawing on immersive ethnographic methods on post-2000 festivals, with a particular focus on FESFOP, a festival located in a rural area that has been defined as a “crossroads of culture.” Following the PhD viva on 26 March 2018 at SOAS, University of London, examined by Dr Hélène Neveu Kringelbach and Prof David Murphy, Estrella Sendra went to Senegal in April 2019, to deliver three presentation in different locations.

The first presentation took place on 19 April at the Regional Cultural Centre in Louga, home of the main case study of Estrella’s thesis, the Festival International of Folklore and Percussion (FESFOP). The presentation was introduced by Aby Faye Ba, director of the Regional Cultural Centre, Babacar Sarr, the president of FESFOP, and Cheikh Bayefall, a leading contemporary musician from Louga, who had been a key oral source for the writing of the cultural history and context of Louga. The auditorium was crowded by FESFOP members, cultural actors and actresses in Louga, partners and FESFOP audiences. Many of these people had been interviewed or inspired Estrella to write about the festival and congratulated the researcher on the exhaustive research carried out in the field. The range of introductions by Sarr, Faye Ba and Bayefall, as well as Estrella’s presentation emphasised the polyphonic dimension of research, as the result of a large number of testimonials and encounters.

The second presentation took place on 22 April at Aula Cervantes in Dakar, a recurrent venue and partner of a significant number of festivals in the country, and where Estrella had also carried out archival research. The presentation was introduced by Ignacio Villapadierna, director of Aula Cervantes, who had previously welcome Estrella to host the film screening of her two documentary films on migration, Témoignages de l’autre côté (2011) and Témoignages… waa “suñu gaal” (2016). His words were followed by Omar Diouf, Chief Editor of ‘Cultures and Media’ in the national newspaper Le Soleil, with whom Estrella had been an intern in the summer of 2012 in the cultural section of the newspaper. The audience included students, cultural actors and actresses, journalists and professors, some of which had also been crucial sources for her thesis.

The last of the three presentations took place on 25 April in the Hahatay‘s Cultural Centre Sunu Xarit Aminata in Gandiol, where they have been running the Festival Taaru Gandiol for three years. Introduced by Mamadou Dia and Laura Feal, co-managers of the Association, as well as Babacar Sarr, the president of FESFOP, the presentation offered an opportunity to the festival organisers in Gandiol and the rest of young people involved in the wider work by the cultural centre and association, to exchange and learn from the case study of FESFOP. A further FESFOP member, Marthé Khady Diallo, was also present in the event, and was invited to talk about the social impact of FESFOP, emphasising the importance of social capital and social sustainability in festivals, and even more so, in rural festivals.

Estrella Sendra further enjoyed the trip to Senegal to exchange with the school of cinema ‘Cinébanlieue’, initiated by Abdel Aziz Boye, who passed away in 2017, and to whom Estrella has dedicated her thesis, in memoriam. She screened her documentary film Diabel Cissokho: the story of a griot (2014), which was followed by a Q&A with the young filmmakers.

Researchers in WSA and University of Southampton share their research and practice on festivals

TC Festivals event_roundtable 2Yesterday, a number of researchers at Winchester School of Art and University of Southampton gathered together in ‘Enhancing Creativity and Transforming Places through Festivals,’ an academic event fully devoted to research on festivals and the links between research and practice in festivals, put together by Dr Estrella Sendra. The aim of the two-hour event was to foster exchange between festival researchers and practitioners based in Winchester and Southampton, reflecting about the multifaceted dimension and impact of festivals. Across the presentations there was a particular emphasis on the link between curation, the festival location and local audiences. Speakers included Prof Jussi Parikka, who has been involved in the Tranmediale Festival in Berlin (Germany), particularly in the academic events during the festival. Prof Parikka stressed the link between activism and art in the festival, and the fact that Transmediale was not just a media art festival. Dr Estrella Sendra presented the International Festival of Folklore and Percussion in Louga (Senegal), a rural festival understood as a “project of territory” by its director whose sustainability relies in the endorsement of the local population. The festival has led to the transformation of Louga from a marketplace to a festival space. Prof Lucy Mazdon, film festival researcher and judge of the Winchester Film Festival, spoke about this film festival in Winchester, in response to some of the festival director’s reflections about the main challenges. Prof Mazdon highlighted the role the festival has played in screening films that would not otherwise reach audiences in Winchester, but acknowledged the challenges of the curation of a contemporary cultural event in Winchester, which contrasts with the image and imaginary of the city, known for its cathedral, Jane Austen and heritage. This institutional and artistic difficulty in responding to the complexity of the identity of a place was also noted by Dr August Jordan Davis, who spoke about the curation of an exhibition in the WSA gallery as part of the 10 days Winchester Biennial Arts Festival in 2015, and whose them was Chalk. Dr Davis further noted that the success of the exhibition and the biennial more broadly was precisely due to the fact that it was showcasing local work, and the way in which the exhibition brought local traffic to WSA, with over 750 visitors. The researchers then joined in a roundtable, chaired by Dr Mihaela Brebenel, where they responded to questions from he audiences and reflected further on the connections between their different festivals.


Malaysian connections

Seth visited Malaysia this week, hosted by the Faculty of Creative Industries at UTAR (Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman), where he is external examiner for the BA Games Design course. He also shared research ideas and projects with members of the Centre for Immersive Technology and Creativity, and gave a talk to the students on design for postdigital play.

Games Design students, and Faculty of Creative Industries staff, including Kevin Tan (Head of Dept of Game Studies) and Dr David Tneh Cheng Eng (Dean of FCI).