Public Play Spaces

Public Play Spaces was a platform for exploring the playful, emotive, and critical incorporation of technology in everyday public life. Drawing on art, architecture and activism, focus was on catalyzing new forms of engagement. As public space seems to be increasingly privatized and policed, we argued that interaction design is too focused on putting technology everywhere, ubiquitously and indiscriminately, in our personal lives and public spaces. To ask such questions and speculate on alternatives, we threaded such concerns through a series of project collaborations, courses, and events. For us personally, and in collaboration with others, these were means of experiencing and expressing the diverse social dimensions of everyday public spaces. Public Play Spaces emphasized personal and public engagement, in which we explored participatory modes of prototyping, experimental actions ‘in the field’, and subcultural practices. By emphasizing and expanding the social interaction aspects of interaction design, we also developed approaches that queried where, when, how, for and by whom technology was present.

PROJECTs within public play spaces

Kinetic Shadows - winning entry for an art and design competition at the 2004 Olympic Games

Sonic City - wearable technology platform for real-time music composition in urban space

Tejp - low-tech audio grafitti devices for playful parasitism in the city

Underdogs & Superheroes - design methods for new players and participation in the public realm

events hosted by public play spaces

Outside In: Emerging expressions, interventions, and participation in public space. International symposium organized by the Interactive Institute, the Röda Sten Culture Project and supported by the Nordic Culture Fund. June 14-15, 2004, Röda Sten, Göteborg.

DESIGNINART A series of 7 seminars held throughout the spring, exploring the relationship between art and design and the ever changing role of the artist and the designer. Arranged by [fringe], a new media and electronic art and design collective initiated by the Interactive Institute. 

[fringe] Public events featuring local and visiting international artists and designers, organized by Margot Jacobs at the Interactive Institute and hosted by the Big Love gallery. Events have included art film viewings, design vernissages, experimental music performances, electronic making workshops, and robotic puppet shows.

Partcipants and partners

Public Play Spaces was initiated by Margot Jacobs and Ramia Mazé and ran from 2002 to 2005. Collaborators in the projects and events include Anders Ernevi, Lalya Gaye (Viktoria Institute), Sue Huang (IT University Göteborg), Tobi Schneidler, Daniel Skoglund (8tunnel), Adam Somlai-Fischer, and Linda Worbin (Borås Textilhögskolan).

Funding for Public Play Spaces comes from VINNOVA, the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems, through the IT + Textiles project, the EU Disappearing Computer initiative through the Smart-Its project, the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art (NIFCA), the Nordic Culture Fund, and the Röda Sten Culture Project .


Collaborators include Big Love gallery, Childstore, Finsta, Everwanting Streets, IT University Göteborg's Art and Technology program, IT University Göteborg's Interaction Design Program, Göteborg University's Konsthögskolan Valand, School of Textiles, University College Borås, and the Future Applications Lab at the Viktoria Institute.

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