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Bristol: Watershed, Sightseeing & New Ideas!

Updated: Jun 12

Hello, my name is Emilia (they/them) and I'm the new trainee producer at Produced Moon. I’ve been having a retrospective about our residency at Watershed’s More Than AI Sandbox. Firstly I can’t express enough how exciting it was to get to visit a new city as a part of work! Bristol is such a lovely place with lots of lush foliage, lovely people and cool street art. 

Although I got plenty of time to explore the sights of Bristol, the true reason we were there was to develop our project Glory Mold, in parallel with the other amazing creative teams who are part of the More Than AI Sandbox. Glory Mold is a fusion between AI and slime mold. I don’t want to reveal too much yet, but if you’re really curious you should come and see our presentation at Surge’s Techbox event on Saturday, or if you’re not in Scotland… watch this space ;)

I’m ‘just a trainee’, and quite new to my role, so I was unsure how I would fit in. I guess it can always be a bit nerve-wracking to enter new environments; I’ve always felt really welcomed and included in Produced Moon from the start, but this is a whole new ballpark! Furaha from Watershed established early on that it’s not uncommon to be feeling ‘imposter syndrome’ and that ‘everyone else in this room must be an expert except for me’. It was refreshing to hear this as someone who’s at an early stage of their career. This was also a really great way to kick off the workshop on how we want to work together and create terms of engagement. I felt empowered to share my opinions and ideas, to ask questions and ask for help.

Probably my favourite part of the workshops was ‘Bring a Thing’ where we all had to bring in ‘an object (or image) which represents an intelligence that you are fascinated by and want to connect with’. It was a great exercise to challenge our thinking about mundane objects, and to share ideas with and get to know members from the other teams. I brought my childhood Gameboy Color and, inspired by Glory Mold, I talked about how it would be like to upload my consciousness into the game cartridge and experience the glorious 8 bit world of Pokémon Red. This catapulted a whole chat about game nostalgia and how contemporary VR games fail to capture that sense of wonder you get when exploring a new world that’s maybe not very ‘realistic’ at all. There’s something about the statement ‘leave something to the imagination’ that’s true to game experiences I think. Why would I want to explore a hyper-realistic world where every detail is life-like, when it’s life I’m trying to get away from with some in-game escapism? Or maybe I’ve just become desensitised to the wonders of new features in gaming?

The next day of workshops involved a lot more project-specific development. It was really interesting exploring known and unknown consequences of the project. We were encouraged to write these down on post-it notes, and while some of my answers included more low-brow consequences like ‘we get really rich’ and ‘world peace’, I think it’s nice to have high ambitions with these kinds of projects. One major takeaway and concern we had looked at before entering this workshop was our concerns with the lack of sustainability when it comes to using AI, and how extractive some of the chatbot companies’ practices are. It will be interesting to see how the project develops and what kind of real life consequences Glory Mold will have.

In my time off while in Bristol, I got lots of steps in exploring the M Shed, Cabot Tower, and The Clifton Suspension Bridge (I ended up taking an unplanned detour in Leigh Woods before making it there). I was really excited to check out queer space Cloak, but they had a private event on. The lovely staff there redirected me to Kino, a cooperative vegan café. Excellent scran, I must say! If you’re travelling to Bristol any time soon, drop a comment and I'll send you my Google Maps pinboard of cool locations to check out.

All in all, I just wanna shout out to Watershed for being excellent workshop hosts, Produced Moon for bringing me along, and all the other teams for some really fun and interesting chats.

Peace out 😗✌️

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