Tag Archives: University

Coming soon to an academic conference near you…

Well, what image would you use to illustrate the monstrous in the city? Shared via CC, click through for originator

For those limited number of people interested in this kind of thing, pleased to announce I’ve had the following paper (and accompanying playful experience) accepted in a conference/symposium called “Performing the Monstrous in the City” at QMU in September. Interestingly they seem to have invited 2.8 Hours Later lot to feature, too, which is interesting. Not least because I think they actually offer a pretty poor experience (at least in terms of what they promise; i.e. a gaming/interactive experience, which it mostly isn’t. Read a bit on what I think interaction is over here. It’s definitely not ‘hot’ interaction in those terms, and extremely linear and much closer to film than games or performance. What it is extremely interesting as is an exercise in pre-marketing. Anyway, this is a LONG bracket. Stopping now)

What I shall be talking about:

Playing with the monstrous; restructuring the ‘other’ through loveliness, adventure, and curiosity.

The city makes us all monsters; it channels us and distracts us, and fills our lives and heads with monstrous noise.  It casts all others as potential monsters; it provides no ‘safe place’ or ‘home’. As media, message and surveillance culture become more pervasive, new tactics of resistance are required. Games and play are a growing and powerful route to reconstructing the monstrous on and of our streets.

This paper will consider the playful practices of the Agency of Coney, looking at the power of first-person performative experience in breaking down the monstrous of the city, and the ‘other’.  The paper will use the lens of Coney’s three main principles of  ‘making good play’; adventure, curiosity, and loveliness; and look at the Agency, it’s training, and activity, to consider new strategies for re-connecting individuals with the monstrous other – in the people and the city space they move through every day.

A 20 minute paper with accompanying playful experience.

The playful experience will be a practical example of the application of playfulness, delivered as small adventurous, curious and lovely tasks that can be discovered and completed by anybody at the conference, at any time during the day.

How I Got My Head Back

Image by me, from the Story Map I worked on in Stockton-on-Tees

Image by me, from the Story Map I worked on in Stockton-on-Tees

So it’s been 2 years and 5 months, and it turns out that I actually have to write a PhD, now. Quite a lot to do really; have started actually saying ‘no’ to brilliant arts practice opportunities (sob), and am gearing up for May-September being Just PhD Months. In starting to ease into that it turned out actual sustained and deep concentration seems to have been an ability I’d lost. I’ve been busy levelling up all my multi-tasking, map-view, tabbed-browsing, horizontal thinking attributes, but try to settle to just one detailed task and my brain just sits there and FIZZES. So I fixed it. A bit like getting better at exercise, by throwing myself in at the deep end/just seeing if I could hit a half marathon distance in one go (what, no one else does that?). Anyway, I’ve been spending time away from the internet. And you know what? It’s fucking amazing. Like realising there’s a buzzing in your ears only when it stops. I am so much less stressed. I have the room for my brain to sink into things, I feel actually, genuinely productive, and when I return to the web, much more refreshed.


That discipline stuff, partly, but mostly a Chrome extension called ‘website blocker‘; I’ve pasted in amazon, bbc, guardian, Google reader, twitter, Facebook, etc., urls in, set my blocking hours of 9.30-1.30 and 2pm-6.30, and defeated that breaker of discipline: habit. Now when my click wanders to the Twitter or Facebook shortcut in a ‘something to do while I remember why I opened the window in the first place’, or an unwitting link takes me there, I get a lovely message that reads “Relax, you don’t need to fill your head with this stuff, You should probably be doing some work, yes?” And it’s almost always right. Coupled with new rule ‘the world will not end if you do not reply to the email immediately’, a muting of both computers’ email alert noises, and a phone with data and WIFI signal turned off from 9am-6pm I’M FUCKING FLYING. And while I love the people I know online, and respect what it offers me (almost all of the work I’ve had in the past few years for example, and some brilliant places for learning, finding cool stuff, and having my mind widened) I suddenly, suddenly find myself productive, concentrating, and to be honest, happier. Which is nice. Something something ‘in moderation’ something.

In that productive vein, here’s a few things wot I have done/am doing, UPDATE COMMENCE: Continue Reading →