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October 20, 2017
Mark Lochrie

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This past week, PhD candidate Jack Davenport has been in Amsterdam to present at his first conference, CHI PLAY.

CHI PLAY is an interdisciplinary conference for researchers across areas of play, gamification, interface design and human-computer-interaction. Jack presented his work with his playful musical interface, the ‘Sound of Colour’ as a poster session on the Tuesday.

During the week, researchers and industry professionals presented a whole range of different projects, theories, installations and discussions centralised around the themes of ‘play’, ‘fun’ and ‘interaction’.

Ian Bogost’s introductory Keynote presentation ‘Play Anything’ debated and philosophised the true concepts and meaning of ‘fun’, and what it really means to play.




Jack’s research focuses on playful interactions with audio, especially music, and it was good to see many other playful sound based projects presented at CHI PLAY this year.

Joost van Dongen gave a live demo presentation of his game ‘Cello Fortress‘, in which a team of four players attempt to navigate through the inside of a cello in tanks, while Joost himself controls the enemies and the terrain by playing accompanying music. Melodies control the guns, dissonant notes activate flamethrowers, and certain themes or motifs control special moves to destroy the player’s tanks.

Cello Fortress offers an innovative blend of music, improvisation, and gaming.

Included in the conference’s ‘Playroom’, Pepijn Rijnbout gave a live demonstration of ‘GLOWSTEPS‘. These sensors based interactive tiles emit different lights, and produce sound, and can be programmed in several different configurations.

It was interesting to see how these new pieces of hardware offer new insights into how children interact with tangible objects, and how expressive play can benefit learning and education.

Jack’s poster session on his work on the ‘Sound of Colour‘ was met with enthusiasm and thought provoking discussion. This poster accompanied his recent publication ‘Supporting Creative Confidence In A Musical Composition Workshop: Sound Of Colour‘.



Members of the CHI PLAY community were intrigued in this new musical interface, and offered suggestions and ideas about how to further this work, and where to take this project next.

It was interesting to see what other researchers are currently working on, and where their work sits in the wider context of ‘CHI PLAY’.

Jack’s week in Amsterdam was an extremely beneficial trip, and a very rewarding first conference experience. He is currently working on a second version of the Sound of Colour with members of the Media Innovation Studio team, and will be testing and experimenting with new projects in the near future.

For those of you that didn’t get a chance to see the work, here’s a short video.

Follow Jack on Twitter for future updates. 

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