CXNI Project Development

The following knowledge exchange projects are currently being supported by CXNI:

  • #opencurriculum

  • Maker Day Belfast

  • Echo Echo and UU Magee

  • Prisons Memory Archive (Maze3)

  • Family Friendly Galleries

  • Open Arts and Juan Manual Loaiza

  • Sonorities and Emer Grant


#opencurriculum: Chris Murphy (UU), Tim Potter (Little Thunder)

The #opencurriculum project was proposed and implemented by Chris Murphy, a multidisciplinary design educator at the University of Ulster, in collaboration with the Belfast-based web development agency, Little Thunder. This team set themselves the task of using GitHub – a web-based platform for managing and sharing software source code – to facilitate the co-creation and sharing of educational content. They were drawn to GitHub as it has unique features that track content as it changes over time and between users. Their high level objective was to build a user-friendly web interface – that utilised GitHub’s version control features – for global, collaborative curriculum development. They pitched #opencurriculum as a test case to the University of Ulster, who granted them permission to create an open curriculum planning process, through the sharing of their course materials via GitHub.

Maker Day Belfast: Michelle Douglas (UU)

Maker Day Belfast was a creative collaborative design weekend focusing on physical and digital making. The weekend was developed by Michelle Douglas (design consultant and PhD student) and supported by Stephen McGilloway (Big Small Design) and Richard McElveen (University of Ulster). The organisers’ rationale for the event was to expose collaborative ways of working as a positive influence in the production of innovative concepts and products. The event encouraged a variety of creative practitioners and researchers to join industry experts from the UK and Ireland to respond collaboratively to themes. These provocative design briefs were simply key words and phrases such as “elderly,” “rural,” and “Northern Ireland.” Four teams utilised soft modelling materials and digital fabrication tools to co-design imaginative, working prototypes. At the end of the weekend the teams showcased their design solutions.

Echo Echo and UU Magee

This project is a collaboration between: Dr Matt Jennings (Lecturer in Drama, University of Ulster); Zoe Ramsey (ensemble member of Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company); and Antonina Sheina (former member of Malaya Bronnaya repertory Theatre Company, current ensemble member of Echo Echo). The intention will be to develop methods of integrating text and devised movement, interpreting two-hander scenes from the theatrical canon. The project will also involve a series of workshops with UU Drama students and community participants from Greater Shantallow, followed by public workshop/presentations of the development process at UU Magee, Echo Echo Dance Centre and the Amelia Earhart Festival.

Prisons Memory Archive (Maze3): QUB, Elucidate

Maze3 is an interactive documentary prototype. This knowledge exchange collaboration occurred between academic researchers from the Prisons Memory Archive at Queen’s University Belfast, and Belfast-based software development agency Elucidate. The prototype uses a 3D gaming engine to digitally reconstruct the Maze and Long Kesh Prison. This project team aimed for an “experience of spatial immersion” where “the ‘user’ is invited to explore the prison site in first-person.” The interactive documentary allows people to view video interviews of prisoners, prison staff, visitors, chaplains and artists who were filmed at the prison.

Family Friendly Galleries Project: Oonagh Murphy (UU), Caragh O’Donnell (UU), Young At Art

This project interrogated how galleries, museums, and project spaces perceive and are perceived in relation to ‘families’. Building on previous research by the two PhD students involved, the project brought together representatives from Northern Ireland’s creative institutions to develop new approaches to engage parents and children. Their departure point was the idea that for some these are familiar, inspiring, vibrant hubs central to the life of the city; while for others they are unknown, intimidating and difficult spaces. The researchers worked closely with Belfast-based Young At Art – an organisation that develops creative programs from children and young people – to design and deliver a workshop session that delivered useful outcomes that are in the process of being implemented.

Open Arts and Juan Manual Loaiza (QUB)

The objective of this project was to explore improvisation praxis with multidisciplinary arts practitioners who work for Open Arts, a Belfast-based arts and disability organisation. PhD researcher in sonic arts, Juan Manuel Loaiza, engaged small groups of artists in sessions that were loosely based on an artistic skill or discipline, to explore the theory and practice of improvisation. The project was based on the premise that the word 'knowledge' is not restricted to its commonly used propositional sense: the 'knowledge that' (...that night follows day, etc.). Instead, the activities were based on the idea that knowledge can also be shared and produced via action: the 'know how' of our everyday practices, an embodied type of knowledge.

Sonorities: Emer Grant and the Sonic Arts Research Centre (QUB)

This project explored the role of the independent curator (Emer Grant) within the contemporary sound art festival, Sonorities. This event is directed and produced by researchers based at the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queen’s University Belfast. The collaboration aimed to co-curate a live arts-based exploration of an abandoned music school in Belfast. The project emerged from an engagement with Dr Richard Brook from Manchester Metropolitan University’s Architecture department on a Modernist tour of Belfast. He described the school as an “architectural gem” in the style of ‘Dudok’, a rare kind of Dutch Modernism that is now virtually extinct.

Their initial proposal involved repurposing the building to become a satellite venue as part of Sonorities. Gaining the necessary permissions to use the building proved challenging, which led to the project commissioning two sound practitioners to engage artistically with the building even though they could not exhibit in the space. The project team is also organizing a roundtable to discuss the challenges and opportunities afforded to artists by Northern Ireland’s abandoned buildings.