There’s something about Bristol

Last Friday saw half of the NESTA Connect team made their way to Bristol to learn more about two organisations, the Arnolfini and the Pervasive Media Studio, which are exploring collaboration in new and different ways.

The Arnolfini is a contemporary arts space which is looking to broden its understanding of how a modern gallery shares, participates and learns with the world around it.  As part of this movement, they are currently developing a project which we were eager to learn more about since it looks to use collaboration to bring new insights and fresh perspectives to the issue of place.  Using two areas for investigation, circles of a mile radius around the Arnolfini and one in London, the proposal sees artists twinned with another practitioner from a different disciple such as an economist, anthropologist or engineer.  The premise is that each practitioner is invited to explore and produce work inspired by a study of the two areas according to their own knowledge bases as well as the additional insights provided by working together with their partner.

With potential partners including the Academy of Urbanism, it certainly has the potential for some valuable learning – with the key perhaps being that the same learning is transmitted to a wider audience than just the participants themselves.  Also worth noting when talking abuot Arnolfini is antisocial_notworking, their display case of projects subverting Web 2.0 from the inside out.

The second leg of our trip was to the Pervasive Media Studio opened on Valentine’s day this year as a spin-off from iShed/Watershed together with HP Labs.  The Studio brings together the computing, communications and creative industries in a flexible workspace which is investigating how:

the evolution of the internet with ‘smart’ devices will unlock media
from computers, phones, TVs and cinema screens and make it more of an
integral and portable part of our daily lives. Designing the
experiences and technology for a pervasive media environment will not
only require a diverse set of skills and insights but also a
collaborative approach to innovation.

Current residents include Hazel Grian of Licorice Films (MeiGeist, katemodern), pervasive game design company Simon, mobile entertainment specialists Mobile Pie and leading theatre producers punchdrunk on a short-term research residency. 

Powerful new application of web-based technologies and the relationship between web & place are two areas of particular interest to Web Connect.  Bristol therefore seems to be a good city to be in conversation with.

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