Archive for the Research Category

Game design and theatre design – a nice article on Punchdrunk’s Drowned Man in a games perspective

Posted in Research on May 4, 2014 by Carina Westling

Felix Barrett reveals, in this interview by Tristan Jakob-Hoff, just how closely Punchdrunk work with the game concept in the making of their productions. My research interests lie in not exactly that, but a reflexive step beyond: where real-world developments of game structures feed back into interaction design on digital platforms. Felix indicates toward the end of the interview that he is looking to take the Punchdrunk method into computer game territory, and they have experimented with this before in a Punchdrunk – MIT’s Opera of the Future Group collaboration, which aimed to blend the virtual and the physical experience of Sleep No More.


Dark Google – distributed, absolute power

Posted in Research on April 30, 2014 by Carina Westling

You should probably read this article by Shoshana Zuboff: Dark Google. Sadly, on a systemic level it all makes sense. The temptation to absolute power is likely too great to resist.

I am not a conspiracy theorist, but this really does give me the creeps.

Whirlwind weeks

Posted in Events, Research, What one gets up to on December 13, 2013 by Carina Westling

Nottingham: to visit Steve Benford and Sarah Sharples, and meet with Michel Valstar and Paul Tennant. Great openness to collaboration: MRL comes across as a dynamic and exciting place. We Skyped with Steve yesterday to firm things up, and now have a bit of an action plan. We will Skype with Sarah and Michel next week, to take things forward there, too.

Incidentally, Nottingham was lovely in the culinary sense, too – Iberico was great (although the chip butties the evening before was a desperate measure, but I view that as ethnographic research). And the contemporary had a great show on: Asco. Recommended.

Affective Experiences went really well: our presentation (delivered jointly) was very well received and we had some excellent conversations with some of the other speakers.

The rest of the time has been spent either preparing or recovering or trying to catch up.

Setting up blogs with my Dv8 pre-apprenticeship learners

Posted in Research, Work in progress on September 17, 2013 by Carina Westling

With Internet the speed of treacle, we are just in the process of setting up blogs for them, so they can log goals and progress throughout the course.

We have had an introduction to the different presentation skills we will cover during the course, and how they interrelate. The intent is to make sure they leave here in tip-top shape for job hunting and interviews, and there seems to be a bit of excitement in the room about that. I have already shared some of my favourite angles on the subject.

Earlier on, I was interviewing for the new research admin for our research at Falmer. I couldn’t be there during the afternoon, obviously – I look forward to hearing about the afternoon candidates. One of them especially seemed promising.

Lovely lovely summer ending, Toulouse is a splendid city, and more tunnel adventures

Posted in Events, Research, What one gets up to on September 6, 2013 by Carina Westling

It is raining today, after an almost completely uninterrupted, two month long run of gorgeous summer. We had a final, perfect BBQ on the beach on Wednesday evening, which was still and balmy.

Later that night, we spent four hours measuring sound levels in the tunnel. Somewhat less idyllic, but quite fun – all sorts of things go on late at night. A rather tipsy but well-meaning woman trying to rescue what she thought was a poor, trapped acoustician, to mention one.

Toulouse: week before last, to attend the ECCE2013 conference on cognitive ergonomics. I had no idea Toulouse was such a lovely city. Beautiful to walk around in, and the food was divine. P-yr was a spectacular restaurant, just opposite the hotel (which we discovered after looking for it two nights running), but it seemed almost impossible to find bad food anywhere. It is a university city, with lots of young people populating bars and cafes at night. Strangely, they wear clothes that cover their various bits, don’t wear perfume that is set to stun at ten paces, or makeup intended to be visible from a stadium-size stage, and don’t seem to shriek, shout, stagger, or smash things. They also seem effortlessly cool and relaxed. Maybe that’s just the continent.

I am now getting my head around the admin involved with starting to teach. Slightly scary, but exciting.

Punchdrunk: The Drowned Man

Posted in Events, Research, What one gets up to on August 14, 2013 by Carina Westling

Punchdrunk Drowned ManWe went to The Drowned Man last night. In spite of having worked with the production, I had so many surprises – it is just not feasible to know the whole thing. That makes me squeal with delight inside. It is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I absolutely love the scale and ambition of the vision, and how it is given physical form. It gives me a great sense of freedom to know that I can roam without running out of new riddles and discoveries for quite some time.

I had one of those incredible lucky draw Punchdrunk shows, and was drawn into direct interaction three (!) times. Very exciting. The last one was the only time when we lost each other in the crowd – we managed to stick together (I know, you’re not supposed to, but we both wanted to) through the whole thing otherwise, and I loved watching him find his feet, and ‘get’ the follow-a-character thing. We followed  Claude Estee at full clip for quite some time, which was fantastic. Then evil Mr. Stanford was also great to follow, and we also tracked Alice Estee, and several of the ‘actors’ roaming the sets.

It is not a traditional theatre experience. You almost need to develop your own method as an audience member (see some handy tips here), but if you do, and throw yourself into the experience with the same gusto as the people creating it, you are richly rewarded. If sitting back in a comfy chair is the only way you want your entertainment served, this may not be for you. It is physical in every way. And if you like riddles and mysteries, you have plenty to grapple with. All those things make it work for me.

I will write much more about this, but it will probably be in more formal ways, for my academic work. But don’t be surprised if notes pop up here now and then.

In the meantime, this review sums up the way their work divides people. It is pretty spot on.But if in doubt, go. You’ll kick yourself in years to come for missing this truly ambitious theatre company of lovely, crazy, committed visionaries.Punchdrunk Drowned Man

On creativity

Posted in Random thinking, Research on July 27, 2013 by Carina Westling

“Creatively gifted students may be spontaneous, expressive, intuitive, and perceptive, with evidence of intellectual sophistication and childlike playfulness. They are very likely to be curious, open to new experiences, and innovative in many areas of their lives. They may express originality in thoughts, and are probably unafraid of what others might think of their ideas. Most likely, these students have a wide range of interests and abilities, and may be comfortable with ambiguity and disorder. Likely to be unconventional, creatively gifted students are imaginative, and may challenge the status quo. By late adolescence, truly creative individuals usually have significant creative accomplishments that have earned them recognition by experts in their domain.”

(From Scientific American)