Talking lamp posts coming to Bristol

22 01 2013

Lamp posts, post boxes and other assorted bits of street furniture will come to life this summer in Bristol for a game which will make them “playable”. Part game and part story, anyone can play by texting these objects as part of Hello Lamp Post, the winners of Bristol’s inaugural Playable City award.

A lamp post in Castle ParkMany objects already have unique codes (each post box has a six-figure code, bollard two, bench seven and storm drains 14) so council workers can tell one object from another when a light bulb needs changing or a bus stop needs a new pane of glass.

Hello Lamp Post from London-based PAN will involve texting a special phone number with the unique code for the object you have chosen. This will elicit an immediate response with a question, enabling you “to tune into the secret conversations of the city”.

The aim is that the more you play, the more the hidden life of Bristol will be revealed, creating a playful approach to public spaces with inanimate objects triggering playful interactions.

The challenge, however, will be to ensure that the £30,000 given to the project by an unusually large number of partners will appeal to a large enough audience to justify the public and private funding.

Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy has already criticised the award on Twitter, saying that “it seems wrong to me that money can be found for ‘fun’ projects but not for essentials”.

Musician and Playable City judge Imogen Heap was certainly taken by Hello Lamp Post: “I love this for its whispers on the street, guardians in dark corners, humanising our cities’ appendages whose eyes and ears now have a voice.”

Clare Reddington from Pervasive Media Studio, chair of the judging panel, said: “The judges had a difficult decision to make but have selected an unusual and innovative project, which responds perfectly to the theme and seems very apt for Bristol.

“We will certainly have some challenges to make sure the project reaches as many people as possible, but I am sure people will respond with curiosity and warmth and I am very much looking forward to waking up some street furniture this summer.”

Hello Lamp Post conversation

www.watershed.co.uk/playablecity/


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2 responses

22 01 2013
Keeno

interesting project. kinda reminds me of the Japanese Animism, where everything is imbued with a spiritual essence (apart from whales it seems)
I hope they get good writers for this, and create a really fun, engrossing story for everyone who plays 🙂
and also, regarding Kerry McKarthy’s comment, does she want a world with no fun in it? I’m sure she doesn’t and it’s always going to be difficult to quantify spending on the arts when the bins are over flowing, or grants for cycle tracks, when we need more policing etc. But one thing I loe about Bristol (compared to London, Manchester and Luton where I’ve previously lived) is it’s sense of fun and creativity, and willingness to host Nature Days in the harbourside, and events like Se no Evil and Igfest. And if these talking lamp-posts have something fun and inspiring things to say, then this could be a great project!

22 01 2013
Dan

I bet this scheme will get a lot of stick but I love it. Great fun and I look forward to chatting to the lamp outside my house that is on during the day and out during the night. Perhaps he’s depressed?

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