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Other people’s work

Interview with Scott Garner

As part of our research project for the King’s College London Arts and Humanities Festival, we’ve been interviewing different curators, designers, artists and architects about playful work for public space. Our first interview was with Scott Garner, an artist with a fascinating and wide-ranging practice whose work tends to the interactive and playful – sometimes purely digital, sometimes physical as well.

We started by asking him about his installation Reach, a beautiful stylised sky with moon and stars – where you can make noises by touching the moon and a star at the same time.

US: I was interested in Reach in particular (which seems like such a gorgeous piece). In the documentation online, it doesn’t seem like there’s visible instructions – is that the case? If so I’d love to hear about whether you had to do anything to encourage people to engage with it, how they understand that it’s touchable and what they can do to get it to respond, etc. Is it just the dotted lines, and people work it out from there?

SCOTT: Reach was created for the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, an environment where kids generally know they’re allowed to run around and touch everything. Part of the challenge, however, was managing different levels of engagement. I wanted to accommodate both the impatient kids running through the space and banging on everything, as well as more thoughtful children that wanted to puzzle out how something worked in a deeper way. I also wanted Reach to work at different scales—from a single child up to a group of twenty school children.

Response: Block Stop’s “By The End Of Us”

This Tuesday, we popped over to the opening night of Block Stop‘s “By The End Of Us” (running at Southwark Playhouse until 11 June – two more nights, as of now).

We’ve shown Block Stop’s work at a couple of events in the past – at the Wellcome Play Spectacular and at Now Play This 2016. They make “staged interactive events in which participants simultaneously experience both video gaming and theatre”.

What this tends to mean, in practice, is that there’s a playable actor – a performer with a camera strapped to their head – whose point-of-view is livestreamed, in videogame first-person view, to a player. The playable actor asks for advice as they explore tunnels, talk to other performers and hunt for their objectives; the player gives instructions and suggestions, attempting to navigate the actor successfully through the story (solving puzzles, defusing bombs, tracking down enemies, suggesting things to say to other characters, etc etc).