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27 July 2015

SprungDigi - an interactive digital arts festival in Horsham, West Sussex from 10-12 July featured giant portraits of learning disabled people projected onto buildings, a game played with an accessible mapping app and an inclusive, high-tech design workshop to re-imagine a town centre. Gary Thomas was there soaking up the digital vibes.

I had the pleasure of visiting the first ever SprungDigi Festival recently. The first thing I notice about Horsham is what a laid back kind of place it seems. So who would have thought it could be turned into a hub of technology and activity.

The Drill Hall was the epicentre of SprungDigi, and was buzzing with activity when I arrived. What seemed like cardboard matting on first view was actually a cityscape that people were making. Participants cut out shapes and made buildings (including a cinema, a castle, a cat house amongst others) and there were wires under the cardboard to map the space where people put their finished model buildings.

Models were then scanned using an attachment on an iPad camera, and were then able to be added to Minecraft, which eventually would build the entire cityscape.

It was great to see so much technology being used, and talking to the people who knew how to use it (aside from the participants!) what impressed me the most about this was their enthusiasm. Louie told me that he loved working on projects that were as open as this.

They're building a landscape in one room and in another they're making the soundtrack to a digitally inclusive life.

I next visited the recording studio where one group were creating a soundtrack to the cityscape. The studio played the SprungDigi theme song, which sounded like an amazing backdrop to a movie score (I instantly thought of driving around in a sports car on first listening).

This was followed by a group who made their own soundtrack, supported by the SprungDigi crew. Using iPad software ‘madpad’ (weird name) they recorded the group’s own voices which they then put to different beats.

It struck that Horsham was the perfect place to hold such a festival, albeit my O2 signal was technically challenged which meant I couldn't do as much tweeting as I would have liked.

Chisato Minamimura's Sound Moves was truly a most fascinating piece of work. Designed as an interactive dance installation with sound artist, Wesley Goatley and animator Dave Packer, Chisato generated visual moves, combined with live projection orchestrated from sounds around and generated by the body.

She began by showing a previous film on the screen set in the studio space at The Capitol building. It was beautiful and engaging, and surprising that it was only one person rolling when it looked like many more.

Different colours (yellow and white) were a blur on screen, and though the audience interpreted it as shadow, the yellow was the sound created by the noise when performers stomped or rolled on the floor (again, the performance space was specially laid with wires underneath). 

The work the different groups recorded and played back had a mesmerising quality in the way it captured both movement and sound, bringing them together on video.

I had a few problems accessing the online map as I had no signal on my otherwise working phone, making it difficult to take part in some of the challenges. But other than that, the whole experience was well worth taking part in.

Please click on this link for more information about SprungDigi

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