In 2011 Watershed, University of Bristol and UWE Bristol entered into a partnership to undertake collaborative creative technologies activities together. Through this partnership the Pervasive Media Studio creates unique opportunities around research, knowledge exchange, innovation, incubation and teaching. The partnership enables the linking of creative practice and leading edge research to pioneer innovative creative technologies, novel applications of digital media and socially engaged experimental digital and creative projects.
Researchers from the two universities work with Studio residents and local communities in an open innovation environment to explore ideas. The strength of the studio’s research lies in this eclectic mix of experience and perspectives within its projects.
Find out more about the studio’s history.
Pervasive Media Studio has its own research strategy that focuses on responsible research and innovation processes, climate action and our role within it, and creative technology more broadly. All of this work has produced resources in many forms, from a climate action toolkit to an engine for inclusive change that can be adapted in different contexts.
Through our work in Pervasive Media Studio, the partners have come together on a range of research and development projects:
MyWorld is a project led by the University of Bristol that celebrates the West of England's reputation as an international trailblazer in creative technology and screen-based media.
With a unique set of creative partners and research collaborators MyWorld will present a set of trailblazing augmented, experimental and immersive experiences. Technologies taking centre stage in MyWorld include the latest developments in film and television visual and audio production; volumetric capture, mixed reality, motion capture, virtual production, digital doubles, remote robotics, avatar creation… and much more.
Grounding Technologies is a pilot project exploring how creative technology can be used to support climate action. We want to understand how creative technology can be utilized locally in service of a just future.
The West of England is home to a rich ecosystem of climate and biodiversity action, from the birth of Extinction Rebellion in Stroud, to Bristol as a European Green Capital in 2015. We’re interested in how technology can support those mobilising action on the ground. How, in the hands of people, can creative technology support, enhance and build on the work already happening?
Connecting through Culture as we Age
Established in 2021, this three year UKRI Healthy Ageing Challenge funded project is exploring how and why we take part in arts and culture as we get older. We are interested in how participation in all forms of arts and culture, particularly those accessed digitally, can influence our wellbeing and feelings of social connection as we age.
Bristol+Bath Creative R+D
This project was funded as part of AHRC’s Creative Clusters, and was a first-of-a-kind collaboration between the region’s four universities - UWE Bristol, Bath Spa, the University of Bath and the University of Bristol - and digital creativity centre Watershed.
The programme comprised of a number of work streams that spanned digital placemaking, innovative ways of performing and publishing, thinking about creative ecologies, improving inclusive practices in the creative industries, and building on international partnerships.
South West Creative Technology Network
This programme developed a new, networked model of Knowledge Exchange for creative technologies innovation. It did this by harnessing the expertise in creative technology research across the SouthWest region to deliver a series of interdisciplinary R&D programmes that grew the capabilities and connections between the participating HEI and industry partners.
The network also offered one-year funded programmes around the themes of Immersion, Automation and Data to a total of 75 innovation fellows.
REACT was a four year project, dedicated to getting academia and businesses working together. We connected researchers from the arts and humanities with creative businesses to make brilliant new prototype products or services.
Between 2012 and 2016, we supported a slate of innovative projects which responded to the changing world of business and society. This involved developing new systems and approaches to collaborative R&D, working with a dazzling range of creatives, businesses, researchers and experts.
REACT was a collaboration between UWE Bristol, Watershed, and the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. We were one of four Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC.)
Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC)
Creating a unique link between leading edge research and creative practice, the DCRC has been embedded at the Pervasive Media Studio since the centre’s launch in 2009. In a context of transforming media cultures, in which established methods of producing and understanding media are undergoing rapid change, we study the application, processes and politics of digital creative technologies. We map and contextualise emerging practices. We critically reflect on their aesthetics, ethics and impacts. Our research is informed by PM Studio themes and often undertaken in dialogue with Studio residents. The current research programme is built around the themes of Future Documentary, Playable Media, Creative Economy, and the Automation of Everyday Life.
DCRC projects include:
The Pervasive Media Cookbook, which emerged from a process of dialogue with creative practitioners in the studio network. The Cookbook is designed to inform and inspire students and designers who want an introduction to the emerging field of pervasive media in which context-aware devices deliver ‘the right media, in the right place, at the right time.’.
The AHRC funded Ambient Literature project, which asks what happens when the place where you're reading becomes the stage for the story. How might writing, reading and the idea of the book itself change when we use technology to design stories, rather than just present them?
DCRC Director Tom Abba is UWE Bristol lead in the Studio partnership.
University of Bristol
Numerous research groups across the University of Bristol have worked with and within the Pervasive Media Studio, united by a common interest in creative interdisciplinarity, co-production and critical making. In particular the work undertaken in the University's Brigstow Research Institute, which brings researchers from different disciplines together with a range of partners across the city and beyond to experiment in new ways of living and being, and the University's Bristol Interaction Group (BIG), which collaborates between social scientists, artists, scientists and engineers to create novel, efficient and aesthetic interaction designs, is often informed and evolved through dialogue and partnership with Studio residents..
University of Bristol projects include:
Magicians in residence. Watershed and the University of Bristol disrupted normal residency service to invite magicians Stuart Nolan and Kieron Kirkland to be based jointly within the Studio and the University's Bristol Interaction Graphics (BIG) group to explore creative ideas blending technology, interaction design, magic and illusion.
Tangible Memories funded by the AHRC brings together an interdisciplinary team through the University of Bristol and Pervasive Media Studio. The team includes digital artists and makers, learning researchers, computer scientists, social historians, older people themselves and their carers to co-produce a set of novel digital tools that addresses some of the key societal challenges concerning the care and well-being of older people. The project explores the way that tangible technologies might be developed in both historical research and in democratic community building. The main goal of the project is to help improve the quality of life for residents in care homes by building a sense of community and shared experience through a cooperative exploration of their life history stories.
Dr Pete Bennett Lecturer in Computer Science, is University of Bristol lead in the Studio partnership.