Over at CASA, Valerio Signorelli has been developing prototypes for Augmented Reality play. Playing the Archive will bring to life the play experiences of children in the 1950s and 1960s captured in the Opie archive and make it available to visitors at the V&A Museum of Childhood and the Weston Park Museum in Sheffield. AR technologies will also inform the development of experimental play spaces in Sheffield and London.
In this video, Valerio showcases an early prototype of ‘sonic hopscotch’, which uses documents and audio recordings from the Opie Archive as well as a video recording taken as part of the Children’s Playground Games and Songs in the New Media Age project. (Note that as this is a prototype, the recordings and the game don’t yet tie together: the audio and video are for a clapping game, while the document describes a game played using cigarette cards.)
The Playing the Archive team recently visited the Olympic Park in Stratford to scope out play spaces. We looked at cafés and outdoor spaces, and focused especially closely on existing playgrounds at the site.
We hope to use mixed reality to make novel connections between the physical and digital environments, pulling through archival materials from the Opie and Museum of Childhood collections with the hope of bringing the songs, games and play of previous generations to life. (You can find out more about this strand of the project here.) Discussions about potential uses of the space will continue over the coming weeks and months.
Kate, John and Valerio joined a staff meeting at our London project primary school. John introduced the work of the Opies, showed the teachers the Playtimes site from the previous project and gave a broad overview of the project. Kate talked about how the researchers would work with the children discussed the various play spaces in and around the school. Valerio gave a great presentation about his work, explained the difference between AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality) and MR (Mixed Reality), and gave the teachers a range of equipment to play with and explore. There was great enthusiasm at the school for the project and we are all looking forward to getting started!
Teacher Tom tries out a VR headset while a Times Education journalist takes pictures
Children’s playworlds are a complex interweaving of physical and digital dimensions, with the border areas between ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ becoming increasingly blurred. The popularity of apps like Pokémon Go and the growing use of these apps by young children suggest that mixed reality play is an expanding area. In these hybrid spaces, the distinctions between online and offline, physical and digital, real and virtual become increasingly hard to discriminate, with play moving across boundaries of space and time in new ways.
In March 2018 Kate Cowan will explore perspectives on mixed reality play through a short research visit to Denmark funded by the DigiLitEY COST Action. Linking with researchers from the University of Southern Denmark and toy designers from the LEGO toy company, this visit will focus on the newly-opened LEGO House in Billund which aims to bring together play, creativity and learning through exhibits spanning physical and digital forms.
Photos thanks to Patrick Otley and Jill Hawkins
The research visit will involve discussions with members of the LEGO design team, a seminar given at the University of Southern Denmark and a visit to the university’s partnership preschool to consider physical and virtual play in classrooms. Bringing together researchers and commercial toy designers, this collaboration will consider the possibilities and constraints of different toys and spaces for play and will investigate the liminal border-areas where physical and digital play are increasingly mixed.
Key insights will be shared through blog posts and a research report for DigiLitEY. You can follow updates from Kate on Twitter @katecowan