PUP at digital Arts Conference

Posted: Thu, 29 Oct 2015 14:59 by Keith Turner

Laura Evans @LauraKate1992 and me @MrsJayneW were invited by The Spark Arts for Children to 'pop up and play' last Wednesday at the Digital Arts Conference at the Birmingham Rep. We met early am under the silver eye of the swanky new train station and headed towards the theatre/library lobby to set up and demonstrate PUP.

Pop Up Play or PUP as it is affectionately known, is the mixed media creative learning zone invented, developed and researched by a team of Digital and Arts experts from DotLib, DMU and Spark alongside an army of children and young people - the experts in how to have fun; all made possible through NESTA funding.

PUP is a perfect example of how we can use digital technology to ignite the imagination and inspire creativity, merging real world costumes and props with those of the augmented world, immersing ourselves into a mixed reality environment where we can 'pop in and out of our own skin' - according to one of the young experts.

The Digital Arts Conferece is a day for creatives; venue holders, policy makers, companies, commissioners, programmers and practitioners. Including the very nice moustachioed man from the DCMS checking up on how Government money has spread an extraordinary long way and supported the opportunity for hundreds of thousands of children and young people and indeed adults, to engage in arts and culture. (We invite him to take PUP into the Houses of Parliament to demonstrate how vital investment for the arts is, he smiles politely.)

Our morning begins with many delegates mistakenly trying to register their presence at the PUP desk. Registration is a couple of exhibits down and there are piles of lime green lanyards containing delegates names and a schedule of the day, but it is early and coffee is yet to be served. We do however use this opportunity to grab some early players, placing them within the world of PUP pre caffiene fix is for some quite a trippy experience. They are all suitably impressed, and by the first break, we are inundated with bright faces buzzing in and out of the large screen, asking questions picking up post cards and revelling in the endless creative possibilities that PUP can instigate, linking it to their own remit. The biggest surprise arrives when we say it's open source - free to download and easy to set up in any space. More questions follow about kit and kaboodle and before we know it we have plenty of potential PUP playmates from across the UK.

Lunch is served and as the many delegates begin to flag in the queue for food, some light relief is required. We switch to webcam mode on the PUP system and wish them happy eating as they show the camera their buffet of choice, and what a wonderful spread it is indeed, complete with Creme Brule. Creme Brule at a conference!

We digitally dunk a green ogre wearing purple pants into their cappuccino's and invite a skeleton to dance across the crust of some neatly cut coronation chicken sandwiches.

There's a late afternoon break and that concludes our demos for the day; we pack PUP away and exit with tummies full of cake. (The Rep truly do know how to put on a spread). A fabulous day has been had by all, we have demonstrated, discussed, nibbled and nattered, transformed delegates into characters created by kids, plunged them into the deep blue sea and turned them into tiny creatures.

Tags: Jayne Williams, Pop Up Play, immersive digital technology, Digital Arts Conference, Digital R&D