Playful Interfaces: Programming So Far

Tired of touchscreens? Ditch the keyboard and join us for something far more playful.

Think curious controllers, quirky inputs and ways of engaging that just feel more…fun! This edition features the creative pioneers turning our physical world into a playground.

From the explosion of escape rooms and indie arcade games to embedding play in urban infrastructure, videogames are spilling out into the real world. We’re celebrating the brilliant teams working beyond screens in pursuit of simple, accessible experiences that reward experimentation and revel in their own tactility.

Join Daniel Hirschmann – founder of Tech Will Save Us – and Tim Burrell-Saward – innovation lead on break-out hit Beasts of Balance – on a candid journey through a collection of world-class installations and responsive objects.

Play the bonkers and beautiful Line Wobbler, Robin Baumgarten’s world-famous one-dimensional dungeon crawler, and Bot Party, a sound-based game about intimacy developed by cultural engineer Phoenix Perry.

The Artful Spark philosophy of getting hands-on has never been more appropriate; this event is all about the joy of big buttons, bright lights and bold sound. We’ll be asking:

  • What content is best served by tangible and playful interfaces?
  • What audience experience can they be expected to deliver?
  • Where is this work being programmed?
  • What are the key tools for getting started?
  • What’s next in this space?


Daniel Hirschmann

Daniel’s been making interactive installations, spaces and objects for over 10 years and has worked with everyone from Nike and Google to the Science Museum and the Whitney Museum of Art.  His company Hirsch & Mann specialises in responsive objects, installations and environments.  Daniel is also the co-founder of Technology Will Save Us.

Tim Burrell-Saward

From a background spanning lighting design, architecture and interaction design, Tim founded ELK as well as leading on RnD for Sensible Object and their breakout hit Beasts of Balance.  With ELK Tim has made work for Wikipedia, Selfridges, Historic Royal Palaces and Hendricks. ELK’s work has been shown at the Tate Britain, Barbican and Science Museum, among others.

Robin Baumgarten

Ringmaster and thought leader in the field of hardware controllers, and creator of the hugely popular Line Wobbler.  He’ll be talking about and demoing his hugely successful one-dimensional dungeon crawler game.

Phoenix Perry

Cultural Engineer, Game Designer, Instigator and Feminist Killjoy (her words).  We can’t wait to meet her and hear about her work creating physical games and user experiences whilst lecturing in Physical Computing and Games at Goldsmiths.  Phoenix will be talking about and demo-ing Bot Party.

Get your Tickets Here

New home, new theme: Rich Mix hosts #06 Playful Interfaces!

We’ve been on the search for a new home since January, so we’re pleased to announce both our new venue partner and the next edition of Artful Spark.

We asked for help – and the community answered. You made calls, marshalled your contact books, and  we can now call the incredible Rich Mix home. In their own words, “A cultural space for everyone in the heart of East London.”

For our inaugural edition at Rich Mix we’re talking to the people that turn our world into a playground.  From the explosion of escape rooms, to the popularity of indie arcade games at Now Play This, to the embedding of play in science festivals, videogames are spilling out into the real world. We’re programming the people leading the charge.

Thursday 25th October, Rich Mix, 6pm to 9pm

Watch this space for programming and tickets!

In review: #05 Real time

After a 2017 hiatus (that passed in a flash!) Artful Spark bounced back with a bumper January edition alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company focussed on real-time technologies. Read on for holograms, tap-dance, reactive LEDs and the most advanced motion capture suit in the world.

See all the pictures on Flickr (photography by Jose Gomez)
Review the full programme.
Find all speakers and demo-ists in this handy Twitter list.

Continue reading In review: #05 Real time

Full program: Artful Spark x Royal Shakespeare Company: Real Time

It’s happening!

After a little 2017 hiatus, we’re hitting the ground running on Wednesday 10th, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company and a plethora of demos to get your hands on.

Wednesday 10th Jan, Barbican Fountain Room (ground floor)
Doors at 6pm


The RSC’s Sarah Ellis and Epic Games’ Ben Lumsden
A play that couldn’t be more suited to real-time special effects, RSC’s The Tempest was produced in collaboration with Intel and in association with The Imaginarium Studios.
@sarahnellis // @BenjLumsden // Take a look behind the scenes [Video]

Laura Kriefman of Guerilla Dance Project
Architectural Choreographer and creative pioneer in movement and technology.
@elfkay // @guerillladance // More about Laura

Panel, chaired by Katy Beale
Featuring Sarah, Ben, Laura and Tom Burton (Head of Interactive at BBC Studios) exploring how to put technology in artists’ hands.
@katybeale // @scarahnellis // @BenjLumsden // @elfkay // @tbertz

© Laura Kriefman / Guerilla Dance Project


The Tempest live motion capture Ariel, with RSC’s prop technician Steve Keeley
Arrive promptly for a chance of being selected to wear the suit!

Holo-Gauze, with Stuart Warren-Hill
The world’s biggest, brightest, highest-resolution indoor hologram. It sneezes all over Pepper’s Ghost.
@stuarthexstatic // @HoloGauze // About Holo-Gauze

Kicking the Mic, with Laura Kriefman
Tap dance. Looping audio. LEDs. And one magic dress.
Kicking the Mic

RAM Dance Toolkit, with David Haylock
@PMStudioUK’s resident technologist will demystify the RAM Dance Toolkit (that’s Reactor for Awareness in Motion, dontcha know)
@david_haylock // @PMStudioUK // RAM Dance Toolkit [GitHub]


Speakers past and present can be found on this Twitter List.

Images from all events can be found on this Flickr page.

Holo-Gauze in action
RAM Dance Toolkit in action

A preview – #04 – mixed reality

This edition explores how reality can be poked and prodded in the name of art: softened at the edges, sprinkled with wonder and supercharged to deliver powerful experiences.

With Magic Leap waiting in the wings and Cardboard, Rift and Vive fighting for top spot, emerging products like Tilt Brush are calling out for artists to bring them to life and immersive, full-body experiences are using hidden technology to offer a playful filter on the familiar.

Continue reading A preview – #04 – mixed reality

A quarterly event series about creative practice, packed with tech demos, discussion and inspirational keynotes