Watershed commissions craft makers to explore the Internet of Things

Posted on Mon 7 Jan 2013
Thinktank: copyright Heidi Hinder

A Music Memory Box for people with dementia, a flying lampshade that communicates feeling, and coins that trigger invaluable experiences: these are all part of our new three month Craft + Technology Residencies, which kick off this week. 

Three talented makers – Heidi Hinder, Chloe Meineck and Patrick Laing – will work with technologists at the Pervasive Media Studio, i-DAT in Plymouth and Autonomatic in Falmouth during the Residencies to explore how new technologies embedded in objects (otherwise known as the Internet of Things) can enable remarkable interactions between people and objects.

Craft has always played an important role in society and culture, taking forms that can be challenging, beautiful, useful, tactile and extraordinary. But what could happen if there were more opportunities for contemporary makers to work with technologists? Spotting this opportunity, Watershed created a new programme of Craft + Technology Residencies to give three makers the chance to find out.

Here’s a taster of what the three makers will be up to:

Chloe Meineck’s Music Memory Box

Imagine a music box that invites dementia sufferers to hold familiar objects, which activate songs, and magically stir inaccessible memories. Chloe Meineck’s Music Memory Box does just that, but now imagine that it could do even more? Setting out to develop this extraordinary project, Chloe will investigate the potential of communal experiences for care homes, which could even break out of the box to pervade the everyday.

Patrick Laing’s Flying Skirt Light Shade:

At first Patrick Laing’s Flying Skirt Light Shade hangs in a limp felt form from the ceiling, until it is switched on, where upon it begins to rotate and the skirt opens out, silently spinning like a dancer’s. Whilst spinning its shape can be manipulated by touch, just like a thrown clay pot on a wheel. Patrick will explore whether his Flying Skirt Light Shade has the potential to become a playful public experience? Could smart, networked Skirts in transient spaces like airports or hotels, enable new forms of interaction?

Heidi Hinder

Alongside sex and war, money is a constant in human history. But the object of money is fast becoming immaterial. Coins, cash and credit cards are arguably obsolete as digital representations of currency replace these physical objects. Yet trading still relies on trust. So how do we trust what we cannot tangibly experience, what we can no longer touch, see, smell or hear? Beyond the financial, Heidi Hinder will playfully question ideas of value and re-imagine the designed object of money, exploring what could happen if beautifully crafted ‘coins’ could trigger truly invaluable and enriching points of exchange.

Clare Reddington, Director of Pervasive Media Studio at Watershed, says:

“Watershed’s Craft + Technology Residencies enable contemporary makers to rethink the potential of the Internet of Things, create remarkable new products and new business opportunities. We’re delighted to support Heidi, Chloe and Patrick, and look forward to experiencing the work they develop.”

Beatrice Mayfield, Maker Development Manager at the Crafts Council, says:

“The Craft + Technology Residencies provide an opportunity for makers to collaborate with other industries. We look forward to how the makers and technologists will bring their unique skills to the production of a physical prototype and the impact this can have on each others’ practices for maximum effect.”

The Residencies are supported by the Crafts Council and funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Lasting for three months the residencies will culminate in a showcase event at Watershed on Thu 28 March.

Find out more and meet the makers at our free Lunchtime Talk on Fri 11 Jan at the Pervasive Media Studio.