A Music Memory Box for people with dementia, a flying lampshade that communicates feeling, and coins that trigger invaluable experiences: these were all part of Watershed's three month Craft + Technology Residencies, which ran between January and March 2013. 

Three talented makers – Heidi Hinder, Chloe Meineck and Patrick Laing – worked 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) could 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? To explore this opportunity, Watershed created this new programme of Craft + Technology Residencies to give three makers the chance to find out. Here’s a taster of what they got 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.
Find out more and read Chloe's blog here

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?
Find out more and read Patrick's blog here

Heidi Hinder's Money No Object: 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.
Find out more and read Heidi's blog here

The Residencies were supported by the Crafts Council and funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Lasting for three months, the residencies culminated in a showcase event at Watershed. Watch a film of the Showcase panel discussion here.

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