Call for Prototypes for the Fun Palace

In partnership with the American Society for Cybernetics Conference to be held at UBC June 24th and 25th, 2019, the Centre for Digital Media will produce an off-site interactive installation inspired by The Fun Palace. ( The Fun Palace was devised in the 60’s and was more than just the idea of a building, "but was instead a socially interactive machine, highly adaptable to the shifting cultural and social conditions of its time and place" (Matthews, 2005, p. 75). 

On June 25th we transform a 10,000 square foot hangar into a reimagined Fun Palace. We call for unfinished prototypes that will be curated and integrated into a playground of incompleteness, an exploration and celebration of the prototype itself where experiments are conducted and the event itself becomes a user-test for various hybrid/digital work at the intersections of architecture, design, art, performance, technology and science.

Contributors are encouraged to submit functional, interactive, self-sustaining prototypes that can be re-contextualized into an adaptable narrative, each submission offering performative potential, working with ideas drawn from the cybernetic experimentations of Pask, the unfinished architectural visions of Price, or the agit-prop provocations of Littlewood "creat[ing] a new kind of theatre not of stages, performers, and audiences, but a theatre of pure performativity and interaction" (p 75).  In the spirit of Pask’s "learning machines", and of cybernetics more generally, preference will be given to interactive prototypes in which the user and the "program" can mutually influence each others behaviour beyond the realm of a user-triggered but, ultimately, invariant outcome.  (See e.g. Gordon Pask’s Musicolour

Our Fun Palace will be a cyber-wonderland, a provocative interpretation of the low fidelity sketches of a Paskian past, re-envisioned according to multiple realities, virtual, augmented, mixed and hybrid; one manifestation, one interpretation of reality reality "using cranes and prefabricated modules in an improvisational architecture of constant activity...a kind of scaffold or framework...a virtual architecture merging art and technology" (p. 79)

As an homage to conversation theory, we propose a performative ideology free zone encouraging discussion and alignment between the trans-disciplines of cybernetics, cognitive science and systems theory. Our Fun Palace can be reinterpreted as a dialogic installation of meta-trans-disciplinary splendour; a cup of tea in conversation with itself.  Contributors beware that this "machine for living", is rife with ambiguity; "not a museum, nor a school, theatre, or funfair, and yet it could be all of these things simultaneously."

The CDM sits on unceded ancestral Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations territories; at one time in its more recent history home of a tractor factory supplying monstrous machines called Caterpillars for a monstrous resource industry. Join us in perpetuating a "social experiment" whose rich history beckons us to recreate the Fun Palace as a new "skeletal framework" (p. 80), as a lab, a technological iteration, a prototype for future-thinking collaboration, a place for reflection and criticality, a "drama of self-discovery" (Littlewood, 1964 as cited in Matthews, 2005, p. 76).

Please submit prototype ideas with a short description, web links and ideally, video for us to understand how attendees could interact with it. Submit by April 1st 2019…or the 2nd to