If penguins aren't quite your thing then you might like March of the Robots. Not, as some of you may have suspected, a new age techno wildlife documentary featuring the dulcet tones of Sir David Attenborough (marvellous as that would be) but something equally intriguing and wonderfully bizarre.
March of the Robots
This is a year long adventure mission to create 10000 Robots in the great Northern city of Leeds - before you lock yourself in a cupboard or flee to high ground, they are not building an automated army to take over the country, so you are safe… for now.
No March of the Robots, like its avian forebearer, is (largely) a non-threatening, quirky and highly entertaining project, conceived (or rather invented) by creative local organisation Playful Leeds.
These happy folk are on a mission to explore play and playfulness for all people in the city, regardless of who they are. Having formed in January 2012 as an investigation into how the people of the city could contribute to its future through playful and creative activities, Playful Leeds pools resources of business, academia, public agencies, voluntary organisations and the cities residents to invigorate peoples engagement with the city and their perception of it.
Like their previous projects (which you can see here http://www.playfulleeds.co.uk/category/playful-places/ ) ‘March of the Robots’ is rooted in the notion that every singe person is creative, despite their beliefs to the contraty, and that the more creative experiences you are given the more invigorated your enjoyment of your surroundings will become. So over the past year or so, Playful Leeds have charged the locals with the enviable task of creating their own Robot.
We were fascinated to learn more about the project, so decided to have a quick chat with Kay Brown from Playable Leeds.
Hi Kay, we have featured many 'playable' style projects on Startacus and always love finding out about them. Beyond the enjoyment that those involved get out of something like 'March of the Robots' what are the other benefits involved?
Over the course of March of the Robots we've found that there have been a number of benefits from 'playing' with everything from cardboard to code. It's been great to see different generations of families come together to create something, often for the first time with grandparents commenting 'I used to do this when I was your age!'. We've also noticed that for parents worrying about the amount of screen time their children have that it's been really useful for them to learn what type of game Minecraft is and some of the educational aspects gaming can have.
On a wider scale, as a city I think it's led to us reporting and commenting on whether the funding in place for such activities is set up in the right way or if it is restrictive. We've also learnt which local businesses are more agile in terms of understanding the effects of play and getting on board with a project which is quite fluid so they can make their own mark.
Why robots in particular?
The theme of robots came from an event hosted by Playful Leeds in an unused Borders store on Briggate (the pedestrianised high street). The event asked how a city can come together and be playful for all ages and a number of attendees - individuals, creatives, arts organisations. businessmen, council officials and developers worked together in teams to come up with ideas of how we could engage with each other and the wider city. Some of the ideas focused on development of the public realm but one of the ideas was a robot party. That particular idea caught the interest of a number of people in the room and a challenge was created - for Leeds to create 10,000 robots by the end of October 2014.
What can our community (which is spread across the country) do to help you with the project?
In order for us to deliver the best event possible we need a couple more partners that can support us financially, in-kind or both. We're looking for volunteers, prizes, companies to have a stall at our Minecraft Party and showcase their gadgets and gizmos, and people who can spread the word to those that might be interested in coming to our Party Weekend.
Our complete event listings can be viewed on marchoftherobots.com and if any companies are interested in getting involved in the project, we have a document which outlines what we've achieved so far and what we can do with as little as a few hundred pounds or some in-kind support.
The challenge to create 10000 robots in the city by the end of October is entering its final weeks and will culminate in a fab city wide event on 25th / 26th October.