I’ve been an Associate Fellow of the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies at Warwick University for quite a long time now, but this year is the first time I’ve been invited to do anything more than give a 1 or 2 hour talk about my various attempts to make a living as a digital writer and producer.
This year I got to actually play around on campus and introduce a few people to the pleasures of moongolfing.
As with previous moongolf missions, the aim was to walk and play along a prescribed route, conversing and medialogging as we go, with the result that we map out a complete golf hole – a golf hole that becomes part of the course I am designing for the moon.
Previous golfonthemoon posts can explain the supposed point of this exercise in public play.
In this instance, I was hoping to contribute to Ruth Leary’s Mediasmith Project – an interesting look at how various kinds of transmedia documentary might be used as part of a serious academic research process.
With GolfontheMoon I like to think that I’ve been developing a DIY playkit that allows people to walk, talk and play across public spaces in a way that provides opportunities to:
a/ investigate and reclaim public space in a playful way that (sometimes) questions what a public space is for;
b/ experiment with how to capture adhoc playful experiences using digital tools without over-formatting the experience and losing a vital sense of creative spontaneity;
c/ document an experience, share media and add individual play elements as a group in as open and accessible way as possible;
d/ think about how to generate ideas for digital media projects through immediate practice and 'document-as-you-go' techniques that eschew traditional economic ideas of pre-production, planning and scripting.
For this MoonGolf Hole #6 I was pleased to find there already was in place a ready-made crazy golf course in the form of the University Sculpture Trail. In the end we only tackled a couple of the obstacles along the full course - mainly because there was quite a lot to talk about during the day - but I think people got the idea pretty quickly, and enjoyed the freedom of doing something out of the ordinary in what had become for many of them a very familiar (over familiar?) landscape.
Even better, we also attempted to remodel the moment my Action Man (‘Minor Tim’) ascended his lunar craft, by then hoisting me (‘Major Tim') up the very obvious homage to a lunar craft that is The Koan. (It should be noted that spacemen seem to be naturally drawn to Koans or 'Cones': during the Apollo 14 lunar mission, a lot of effort was made to reach the rim of Cone Crater - unsuccessfully.
Here's a video about that first attempt to conquer a Cone:
And here's a video that documents our Cone exploits:
This move from play with paper and toys to an act of ‘transgression’ in the real world (aided, I might say, by several eminent academics) was the highlight of my day, and a demonstration, I think, of how informal play with technology and toys can lead to interesting moments of social interaction and a repurposing of public space that is refreshing (and quite funny).
We also managed to generate in just a few minutes quite a lot of data, media, imagery, text that can be shared and played around with on the web quite easily to create stories, interactions and (possibly) new documentary formats.
In short, this seemed to me to be the kind of Mediasmithery that might encourage people to plan less and play more, generate assets now to make something meaningful later.
And, of course, the joy with digital is that if you fail to make anything meaningful, you can always simply delete it all quickly and go again. Onwards to MoonGolf Hole #7!