SUPERGESTURES is a participatory art project co-created by artist Ling Tan and young people across Manchester which explores the relationship between a smart city agenda and the impact it has on people’s everyday lives.
Commissioned by UK’s first smart city demonstrator, CityVerve, the project uses wearables to help question how much tangible impact smart city technology can have on future generations. The co-creation work culminated in a large-scale outdoor multimedia performance through which people expressed their relationship to the city and their visions for the future with body gestures performed using wearable technology.
Over a period of 6 months, a series of workshops were hosted with over 50 young people aged 15-25 years old from across Manchester. During the workshops, they gathered to co-create SUPERGESTURES – collective actions, postures and gestures performed with a wearable power suit laced with technology, including body gesture sensors, vibration actuators, LEDs and audio feedback.
Coordinated through social media as well as local community groups such as The Proud Trust (the only LGBT purpose-built centre in Europe), The Hideaway, (the oldest youth group in Manchester), and students from Manchester School of Architecture, the young people recorded and shared stories of freedom, pride, technology and ownership while laying out their visions for Manchester’s future.
Later, in a dramatic public spectacle on 10th March, another group of 30 members of the public each wore a SUPERGESTURES power suit, lit up with animated LEDs and triggered by a high tech sensor system, to listen to, ‘embody’ and perform all the co-created stories, visions, and gestures at key locations around Manchester. The hour-long semi-choreographed interactive walking performance was designed to lead people across several different neighbourhoods and immerse them in a future envisaged by the young people of the city, who will be most affected by current policy and technology decisions.
© 2017 Ling Tan