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Playful Cities: Digital activations carve up Skatepark

16 October 2018
Motion-triggered interactive artworks at Sydenham Skatepark
Students from the Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts course at the University of Sydney create a range of light and sound based interactive works to be installed around Sydenham Skatepark for one night only.

When Dr Lian Loke Director of Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts at the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning approached the Inner West Council with a proposal to “digitally activate” the new Sydenham Skatepark, they jumped on board.

The project aligned well with the council’s goal for creative activation of suburbs in the Inner West, in particular with the EDGE festival scheduled for June 2019. The EDGE aims to present a series of rolling activations that showcase local precincts, creative spaces and arts enterprises, the perfect platform for Pilot SK.8.

Dr Loke set a design brief for MIDEA students under the theme of Playful Cities, challenging them to create motion-triggered interactive artworks (light/sound) for playful and creative experiences of both the skaters and the spectators. Dr Loke initiated the research agenda to complement smart cities with creative, playful experiences mediated by digital technology in the public realm.

“We research new design approaches which integrate digital technologies into public infrastructure to support creative communities.”
Dr Lian Loke, Director of Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts.

“We research new design approaches which integrate digital technologies into public infrastructure to support creative communities,” said Dr Loke, Director of Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts.

“By running this research through the MIDEA design studio, we test the design approach with our students and get to see a wide variety of creative ideas for digitally activating public spaces like the Skatepark.”

The design process started off with students conducting a spatial and behavioural analysis of the site to understand the unique conditions of the Skatepark environment and how users interact with the space. Following this, students completed video portrait interviews with skaters and began working on prototypes of their ideas.

Students had to develop their designs within the constraints of the Skatepark, with minimal impact on its current usage, but with maximum effect in creating novel, playful and artistic interactive installations. The students will have the opportunity to test their prototypes live during the Pilot SK.8 event in Sydenham Skatepark on Saturday 3 November.

The concepts developed by students ranged from interactive artworks—to amplify and enhance the skater experience with wearable sound systems—to illuminating the skate ramp base with the highest scores. Other concepts include “digitally painting” the figures of skaters captured by a Kinect camera and creating a skill based game to help girls learn to skate.

During the event, students will interview users to understand how people engaged with their ideas, and how to improve them.  

View the works in progress on the Design Blog

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