I lucked into this conference last year when someone I know on twitter couldn’t attend. It’s now inked into my diary for the forseeable future. Playful describes itself as
A sticker-book of brilliant thinking designed to make you want to Make Stuff.
And it’s not wrong.
Full marks for diversity of topics. We had mummified deer covered with beeswax, which inspired chefs into new ways of dealing with rotten plums, a billion or so different snakes and ladders boards generated through genetic algorithms, eye popping mind-bending graphics making complexity out of simplicity, and back again, a poignant and poetic talk about boxes, and a story about dropping out of the rat race in a virtual world. We had real adventure playgrounds, virtual performance art, bananaphones, folding wheels, not terribly practical jokes on the postal service, people at Facebook dancing a marked up two step on polished concrete that based on the rhythms of a loved up couple’s Facebook posts. We had movies of smiling engineers drilling into hardened steel with home made EMF machines. We took a deep dive into the physical pleasures of response curves in button pressing, and the pleasurable physics of custard-punching.
What do mummified deer, dustard punching, and bananaphones have in common? The announced theme was “playing with form”. What I really picked up from the talks as a unifying theme was a strong feeling of joyous experimentation, and a passionate belief in the importance of experimenting as a way of opening up creativity.
All this in peaceful, beautiful Conway Hall, a London landmark of the humanist movement. I love Conway Hall. And I loved the event. All the talks were interesting. And everyone in the audience I spoke with was too.
Two different talks used the same quote, from Mike Chrisp –
Build what it is you want to build and learn as you go.
What good advice.
Many thanks to Mudlark for curating, and to the speakers*, for blowing a big, teasing, leaf-strewn wind through my mind.
* Duncan Fitzsimmon, Ann Holiday, George Buckenham, John V Willshire, Fran Edgerly, Pippin Barr, Dani Luri, Marie Foulston, Ben Reade, Rev Dan Catt, Stephanie Posavec, and Rob Lowe (aka Supermundane).