A week with QUAD’s Digital Participatory Artist in Residence Matheson Marcault

23 December 2016
Holly Gramazio from QUAD’s current Digital Participation Artist in Residence Matheson Marcault spent the first week of their residency at QUAD from the 28th of November. Matheson Marcault is made up of games designer Holly and game producer Sophie Sampson and creative work that uses game design to engage people with places and ideas. During this first week, Holly worked on a new area of game research in digitally-mediated physical play. This was enjoyed by our audiences, including Listen Love Learn and Q Club. 

Our Digital Participation Curator John Whall caught up with Holly about her time with us so far. You can also catch more about the work that was produced ‘Playable Patterns’ over on the Matheson Marcault website at http://mathesonmarcault.com/index.php/2016/12/09/playable-patterns/ 

What was it about the residency at QUAD that interested you?
It was a combination of things. QUAD was an interesting building and I like making work for interesting spaces. I really liked the nature of residency, where it brought people into the process and participate in making, while also engaging in that space. 

What did you hope to achieve in your first week with us at QUAD and was this fulfilled? 
Originally I intended exploring a couple of different directions where I would then pick one to focus on. These were primarily text and pattern based. Although I prefer text based working, the pattern based stuff seemed more interesting and possible within the time. I really didn’t expect this, I thought I would be working on both and pick one, but instead instinctively made the decision earlier than I expected.

Has this first week made you change or rethink your goals for the residency?
I don’t think the aim for the residency has changed, but it’s definitely been clarified. Trying things out with people in different demographic groups has helped focus on what this method can do that others can’t. Painting on the ground through projection is certainly different, especially with the computer watching what you do. It’s also instigated thinking about what the final form might take. Whether it's 12 standalone patterns, circular, a menu system, or random.

Having access to equipment like a projector all week has made me think a lot about the layers of the work. Putting images onto different surfaces, layering photographs of ground based objects and projecting has produced some interesting directions.

How have the working spaces and other available tools been helpful to you?
It’s been nice being in a space that has a lot of random participatory creativity. This has been good to adapt to a group's needs and pull something out at a moment’s notice. For Listen Love Learn, QUAD’s Arts for Health Worker Charlotte was able to pull out craft materials to change the space and allow people to interact differently. Away from workshops, I mostly spent time sitting and typing code with projection, but feel that there were other areas of the building I could have taken advantage of. I spent some time in the Resource area and had a chat with 4-5 people during this time about games they play. On reflection I think it would have been more inviting if a person [I] wasn’t there and it was just a game that invited interaction. It felt like the person was a block the work because of working in the space.

How did you find working with the different groups during your week?
Q Club were great. They gave great feedback about the game and took lots of pictures. When working with Listen Love Learn I was still in the early stages of the games progress but it was useful in feedback on which patterns people like looking at. Even had 3yr olds coming up to the wall and engage with it. 

How did you find your residency overall?
Great. I had a really interesting time. I really enjoyed working with groups and loved the space. I’m really interested in where this interest is going and want to spend more time with the programme before coming back in Feb.

Did you feel supported by QUAD and staff during your week? Why?
I did feel supported and it was clear staff were around to talk to. Charlotte and Sandra (Education Curator) explaining different groups and providing context for the participatory/educational stuff. Because of the nature of programming you usually sit in a room on your own. When working in public space I had to adapt my workload on things so I could be interrupted. It was a chance for me to work on something programming heavy. Definitely an area I’m still improving on. Doing the programming myself is key to the development of the work and thinking about the processes involved. I really valued the residency as something that gives me the chance to do more programme work. 

Holly will be back in February to delve further into digitally-medicated physical play, work with our School in Residence da Vinci Community School, host live multi-player gaming workshops and a talk to introduce the principles of game design by taking play and interactive experiences to museums, parks and other public space. Not to be missed.