Creative Dundee

Spotlight: Tommy Perman & Tom deMajo on Sounds, Games and Collaborations

Tommy Perman and Tom deMajo were the first recipients of the Insights Collaborative Commission Open Call, so we’ve asked them a bit more about their experience in this project.

We’re making this commission available in collaboration with our partner, InGAME to stimulate new, collaborative ways for creative communities across the city and wider region – artists, designers, makers, games developers – to come together around topics that matter. While it is a small amount of cash resource, we believe there’s an opportunity to spark new collaborations to form around topics which have the potential to positively impact society, through some paid time to develop early-stage conversations.

Tommy Perman is an artist, designer and musician. Tom deMajo is a digital artist and game designer. Together they used the Commission for two days of conversations and exchanges on the collaborative landscape of games and interactive art, developing ideas around games and interactive experiences which combine sound and visuals in playful and meditative ways. In their application, they shared:

Why did you want to collaborate with each other?

Tommy/Tom: Making art and music has been vital to our mental wellbeing during the coronavirus lockdowns which have necessitated a focus on simple approaches to our practices. We recognise many similarities in our processes, however they can remain largely in isolation, so how do we develop ideas together that could benefit others?

One of the positives of this year has been our society’s growing reconnection with nature – which has given many of us a way to centre ourselves and find some peace during this very stressful situation. However, it’s not always possible to get outside and videogames have also proved hugely valuable to many people during lockdown. They have provided a welcome alternative to Zoom as a way to connect and communicate with others and as a mindful activity allowing people to centre themselves when it’s not possible to get outside.

Can you tell us more about what you did in your time together?

Tommy: Tom and I spent two days talking and listening and sketching ideas together. We started with a wonderful sprawling RambleChat (© Adam Buxton) on Friday morning via a Zoom call. The conversation spanned most of the day and took in many topics. We knew each other a little before this but I feel we know each other a fair bit better now. It was lovely to discover all the things we have in common. Lots of these things are to do with family, art, music and playing games of all kinds. We also talked about politics, identity, neurodiversity, competitiveness and values. We also shared lots of links to music, art, design and interfaces we love and indulged in some niche music equipment chat. It was a total treat.

Tom: It was great to talk with Tommy- it was one of the first real conversations I have had outside my close circle since lockdown so felt very humanising, and we have plenty in common. Like Tommy said we had met a few times before but this was a great reason to get to know each other better. We found shared interests very quickly and the chat easily began converging on creative possibilities and directions. Among many others, themes often returned to children, randomness (chance as a collaborator), music, playfulness and simplicity as a tool for introducing complex ideas to people. I think happiness was an underlying theme actually which is such an easy and disposable word/ idea but I am recognising its importance more as i grow older. I was inspired by Tommy’s ​Positive Interactions​ project which is all about that. We also wondered about the role of artists, designers and game makers in the universe and why it only seemed to be artists that got residencies where they spend time away observing, processing and contributing in a new setting… Why not fishmongers or politicians?

Coming from different creative and games backgrounds for the first time – did you discover anything surprising or unexpected about each other’s practice, or by working together? What impact has this collaboration had on your creative practice?

Tommy: I think Tom very nicely challenged preconceptions I held about gaming. He reminded me that the definition of what a game can be is extremely broad. I love the way Tom talks about games and interactive art and how these platforms can be used to engage people and start conversations.

Tom: Tommy came out with some great descriptions- “wrapped up in reverb” was one of my faves when we were talking about sound.. Tommy was also really generous, considered and conscientious in his approach to our conversations and process. I can see he was a great university lecturer!

Do you have any plans to work together in the future, or work on this concept further?

Tommy: I thoroughly enjoyed spending time listening and talking with Tom. We came up with an idea for an interactive music / drawing tool that we’re both really excited about. We’ve discussed how we might develop the project further. But even if we don’t I’m keen to work with Tom again soon.

Tom: I would love to work with Tommy again/more. This was a fantastic opportunity to begin a conversation that was inevitably going to produce some creative shenanigans. It fulfilled the “excuse” to “justify” spending time with someone I was already interested in working with. It was like a creative icebreaker. I look forward to creating more projects with Tommy in Keynote which was our weapon of choice for this round of conversations.

If you’re interested on a collaboration like this, an Open Call for Collaborative Commissions is open right now and you can apply until 25 January 2021.

These commissions are available thanks to our partnership with InGAME – an ambitious research and innovation programme based in the heart of Dundee’s vibrant videogames cluster. Led by Abertay University, in partnership with the University of Dundee, the University of St Andrews and a network of industry partners, their purpose is to drive sustainable innovation and growth within the cluster.

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