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Pervasive Media Studio at Bordeaux Digital Week

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March 2012

The Pervasive Media Studio was invited to take part in this year’s Bordeaux Digital Week, France’s foremost creative technology festival, exploring the very latest in digital experiences.

Bordeaux is in the process of reinventing itself as the digital capital of France, a future looking, connected smart city with a vibrant community of innovators at its heart. The Semaine Digitale is their opportunity to celebrate the talent resident in the city, create new partnerships and demonstrate the value of combining the artistic and technological communities to the policy makers of France and to the citizens of Bordeaux.

Our relationship with Bordeaux stems from the twinning programme that historically links the two port cities. In 2011 iShed Producer Victoria Tillotson gave a presentation at the inaugural Digital Week which inspired the mayors office to visit Culture24, a showcase event hosted by Watershed where they met numerous inspiring companies and saw some of the fantastic projects emanating from the various activities of the Pervasive Media Studio. In 2012 we were invited to produce a showcase event to kick off the whole festival, bringing a cohort of creative economy partners with us to install and demonstrate their work.

Stand + Stare Collective who undertook a micro-residency with the Studio introduced Theatre Jukebox, an intimate, magical experience involving an arcade-style cabinet that reveals stories using physical objects with concealed RFID tags.

Nu desine, Studio residents and Media Sandbox alumni delighted the crowds with their brand new electronic musical instrument The AlphaSphere

and Mutant Labs showcased Operation Sonic Boom, a framework for games using volume and pitch as control mechanics that they developed with us during Media Sandbox 2010.

On the Friday evening over 300 guests turned out for what was described as Un rendez vous unique avec la créativité. Pervasive Media Studio Producer, Verity Alexander set the scene introducing the ethos, energy and activities of the Studio and visitors were free to discover and interact with the 3 installations.

We met a range of representative of France and Europe’s growing digital community. From artists to web developers, skaters to politicians, music labels to gamers. The response to the work shown was overwhelmingly positive and we all made a number of connections with potential collaborators and clients that may prove fruitful in the future. The scale and warmth of our reception was made all the more impressive when we learnt that down the road from our salon in the town hall, Bordeaux were engaged in an epic sporting battle with local rugby rivals Toulouse (in case you’re interested, Bordeaux won!).

On Saturday we decamped to one of the many beautiful wine bars in the city for a more informal meet and greet with the cultural movers and shakers of Bordeaux. We were delighted to meet with Alain Juppé, Mayor of Bordeaux and France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. We discussed the value placed by Watershed and Bristol’s creative and cultural economy on collaboration and openness in working with brilliant innovators from all walks of life, finding that the most interesting things happen at the fringes where different disciplines meet. He shared with us some of his plans to explore a similar model to the Pervasive Media Studio in Bordeaux, working title NODE, that will provide co-working space to creative and digital entrepreneurs in the city. We will continue to work with the city to share our own successes and failures to help this much sought after hub to become a reality.

We met a broad section of the Bordeaux community during our brief stay but one of the standout innovative organisations that we encountered was BAD (Beaux Arts Developpment) a Studio of artists and designers set up to explore how we can live better by embracing creative solutions. They work extensively with scientists and engineers and among their recent projects are a prototype robot exploring robotic motion behaviours can be informed through the languages of dance; and the ‘Chemistry Show’ which embedded artists in research labs across France to co-produce project work with equal emphasis on scientific and artistic concerns.

We also discovered esmi (ecole superieure des metiers de l’image), a fantastic 2D and 3D animation college based in Bordeaux who are informing a new generation of cutting edge filmmakers. Finally, we were inspired by Be Tomorrow, a visual graphics company who recently branched out and created RocketBird, an iPad, iPhone and facebook game that has attracted over 5 million users. As a part of Digital Week, this game was available on a big screen in a public square in the heart of Bordeaux. Enthusiastic (if mixed ability) gamers such as ourselves could have a go at flying around a cute 3D map collecting coins as a robot bird with a rocket strapped to our backs.

The Bordeaux contingent have promised to come back and see what we are up to here in Bristol later in the year and we are already looking forward to what even more ambitious plans Bristol and Bordeaux might hatch together for next year’s Digital Week.

À tout à l'heure!

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