Hilary O’Shaughnessy, Producer for Playable City, Pervasive Media Studio at Watershed in Bristol, UK, participated in the second edition of MUTEK_IMG. We asked her a few questions about her organisation and she answered with interesting thoughts on the developments of digital technology and the new and groundbreaking experiences that it can create for us.
What are you looking forward to your participation at MUTEK_IMG?
I’m excited to share the work we have been doing with Playable City, meet Canadian and international artists who make exciting and thought provoking work, understand more about making work in differing contexts and generally encounter new ideas, questions and provocations in relation to public art in the digital sphere.
What excites you at the moment?
I’m excited to see people work at the boundaries of art forms, practices and methods. I like fuzzing the lines of practice and seeing people having no choice, but to question their own boundaries in response.
What is the latest digital invention that blew your mind?
While appreciating invention, the application of technology blows my mind more than the tech itself. So, it’s not all new, but the last time I had a “woah” moment was when I idly wandered into a room with a robotic set up in the studio, and picked up an Occulus Rift. I put it on and what I saw was me, in the room I was in. The robot was filing me and feeding into the Occulus. I was able to see myself walk around, which was unsettling. Oddly I felt like it was spying, that I was being transgressive, storylines and scenarios of use rushed into my head in a very immediate and visceral way. Up until then I had only seen space shooting demo games or other similar stuff, but I began to think about other narrative uses for Occulus. So, not new technology, but a new experience has the most impact on me for sure. Up until that moment, I had considered it a filmmaker’s tool and certainly not a real time spatial tool. That discovery excited me.
What are some of the ways to integrate digital technology in a city and make it more accessible to citizens?
Give a lot of money to artists to experiment! Digital public art or the implementation of technology in cities is still a very young concept; we need to research, experiment and share, share, share constantly to figure out what works and was doesn’t in any given context. Cities are such glorious unknowable beasts, we can’t contribute until we first explore and play.
In your opinion, what does the future hold for us?
Really exciting things we can’t even imagine, hopefully. I hope too that, in the words of a colleague, we don’t "in the rush to be everything, forget to be something”. I think we will hopefully get over our collective fascination with toys and gadgets and speed and whistles and try to find collective answers to the hard questions that will really affect us.
Hilary participated at MUTEK_IMG in the Rountable: Interactive Creation in Public Space and the Challenges of Export, in the Presentation: Composite – A Forum for Digital Creativity and in the Presentation: Playable City – Opportunities and Challenges of Producing Digital Art in Public Space.