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Kam's Romeo & Juliet

Over 13 days in rural China students form QMUL and Hunan University co-created an interactive drama and interactive art exhibition with the Kam ethnic minority.

Kam's Romeo & Juliet: Co-creating Interactive Drama Across Cultures
  • School/Institute/Department: School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, School of Engineering and Materials Science, Film Studies, School of Geography
  • Subjects: Interactive Design, Applied Drama
  • Audience: Rural Communities

Researchers and students across the Schools of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Materials Science, Film Studies and Geography worked with the Kam ethnic minority group in rural China and Hunan University to co-create an interactive drama based on traditional Kam stories using Interaction Design research.

The group engaged local people in co-creation with ICT hand-in-hand with their traditional skills and culture in order to raise awareness of the benefits of ICT, and help to explore how traditional culture could be reimagined in new ways.

The process involved pairing 10 cross-‑disciplinary QM and Chinese design students who set up an in-situ Maker space in the small village of Hengling to facilitate the creation of the interactive art. They then engaged in 13 days of co-creation with local people to create an interactive drama and interactive art exhibition. During the 13 day process the group engaged directly with local musicians, school teachers, and local community and political leaders.

The final performance attracted over 300 local people who watched the interactive drama and engaged in hands-on interaction with co-created pieces for an interactive art exhibition - the first time they would have seen and interacted with interactive art.

The project aimed to inspire local Kam people to think of new ways to present their traditional cultures, and also to consider how to use ICT in their community organisation (e.g. town planning), it also aimed to provide Chinese students with new ideas about physical computing, and showed QMUL students new ways of creative working while introducing them to Kam’s radically different culture and way of life.

To complement the Chinese produced online and TV dissemination of the work, the QMUL team are developing English language public engagement materials, including English language videos, website, and social media promotion. These materials will be designed to reach a broad English speaking audience interested in minority cultures, social design and innovation, technology, and performance.

Videos of the project are available here.

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