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Collusion's R&D Challenge: Reframing Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds town centre, 20th, 21st and 22nd April 2018   

"Very good, interesting & entertaining" - resident

For one weekend in April, residents were treated to three innovative art and tech projects happening around the town centre from the Apex down to the old Palmers store. Students from West Suffolk College delivered 40 performances in total of 4 monologues written by local playwright James McDermott. The monologues were penned after collecting texts and stories anonymously from students. 

Passers-by enjoyed in the newly named and cleaned alley, Pigeon Parade between WHSmiths and The Works where delightfully colourful decoy pigeons sniffed data from the audiences phones to generate coos, music and lights. Shoppers at the Market near the old Palmers store and in Hughes Electronics store played and interacted with ‘Teo’ an avatar which uses facial recognition to mimic your movements and then plays with your mind! Over 200 people interacted with the live art during the weekend, this short film sums up the delight and wonder perfectly ...

Film by Gavin Toomey
Photos by Matthew Usher Photography

Created with flickr slideshow.


Collusion, a not-for-profit arts and tech organisation, has been working with three groups of artists and technical experts from Bury St Edmunds to help them develop their ideas for the R&D showcase on Friday 20 until Sunday 22 April.

The projects include:

Team Amoeba will showcase facial recognition software to present their new avatar called ‘Teo’ who will track your facial expressions in return for your time in front of the screen. Teo will be presented in a number of shop windows and locations across the town. This project is headed up by Barbara Dougan and Henry Driver.

Team Difficult Spaces will inaugurate and animate a new route through the town with the unveiling of ‘Pigeon Parade’ Here a range of pigeon inspired installations will be triggered into a range of actions by bluetooth as pedestrians explore this newly named cut through alleyway that will be Bury’s very owen version of Diagon Alley. This team is headed up by Liz Cooke, Mark Wharton, Deborah Martin-Pipe, and Jac Campbell.

Team WSC will be lead by Gary Willis and the exciting emerging playwright James McDermott who will be creating new story monologues for 8 of the drama students to present about their sense of identity and self in between the shop and alley locations of the other two teams.

Over the last 6 months, Collusion and programme manager Marcus Romer have worked with the teams to develop these projects further through a series of masterclasses and hands-on workshops. Watch this space for more information on the event and a tour map so you can explore the installations across Bury St Edmunds on Friday 20 - Sunday 22 April 2018.

Team applications have now closed but you can read the brief and Q&A here 

  • We're looking for artists, designers, software developers and other creative industries professionals from the Bury St Edmunds area to take part in our R&D Challenge 

  • Taking part includes great professional development opportunities including learning new skills, building new networks, and gaining knowledge from people working in other creative fields.

Bury St Edmunds R&D Challenge is a five month experimental placemaking project exploring new ideas for data driven public artworks that encourage public interaction within and across the town centre, testing  new creative digital interventions that could animate the town centre, attract new visitors, including young people, improve wayfinding, and support greater footfall across the different areas. 

This project will challenge and support teams of participants to come up with novel ways to collect data (all anonymised, macro level) and create interactive projects, leading to a series of temporary prototype installations across the town centre to be explored by members of the public and audiences using smart devices as part of a time limited exhibition period.  

We're looking for teams of two to four people that include a mixture of skills covering both creative and programming. Each team member should submit an individual application, indicating their team name at the top of the application. 

The project will take place between November 2017 and February 2018 and comprises three parts: i) a series of professional development workshops; ii) the creation of a new data driven artwork or prototype, with iii) a public showing of the outcomes.  Each team will receive a total fee of £1,000 for parts ii and iii.



Our fantastic partners are Arts Council England, Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP, West Suffolk Council, and Our St Edmundsbury BID, with support from West Suffolk College. 





Media coverage

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