This edition of Art in Responsible Innovation features Mireia Bes Garcia from Bristol University and Oliver Langdon of Kilter Theatre in conversation with Jonathan Hankins.
The University of Bristol Public Engagement team and Kilter Theatre have collaborated several times over the last decade, working on immersive theatre projects on quantum/virtual reality and synthetic biology. In the interactive play Invincible (2014) part of the EC funded project Synenerge and developed in collaboration with researchers from the BBSRC/EPSRC funded BrisSynBio Research Centre, participants were encouraged to imagine a near future world in which synthetic biology treatments were commonplace, while in Futures (2019), developed in collaboration with researchers working in VR and in Quantum Technology, they developed public engagement workshops and play scripts exploring the ethical issues brought about by the introduction and development of quantum and virtual reality technology.
Of particular interest is that the researchers were integral to the performances and workshops in a process that offered them the tools to address ethical considerations in their work, relying on their expertise to develop the story and performances. The Legacy Project (2020) is a lock-down production involving Kilter and two PhD students, resulting in the publication of a series of videos in which researchers anticipate possible future scenarios influenced by contemporary academic research.
The collaboration between Kilter and the Public Engagement team has also resulted in a game cards resource set for teachers taking RI into the classroom which was developed through the EC funded project PERFORM.
This wide-reaching conversation addresses issues such as considerations around university/artist collaborations and the advantages of developing long terms working relationships, as well as the complexities of using theatre practice within Responsible Innovation.