High Muck a Muck wins New Media Writing Prize

Chloe D'Costa, Student, BA English, Bournemouth University

The New Media Writing Prize awards evening took place at Bournemouth University on 20th January 2016. BA English Student, Chloe D’Costa, covered the event for us and was captivated by the potential of new media.

Last night, the New Media Writing Prize returned for its annual residence at Bournemouth University where around 100 attendees descended on the University’s Talbot Campus, eager to see what this year’s event had to offer. Divided into a discussion panel with accomplished digital media creators, Chris Joseph, Kate Pullinger and Andy Campbell, and a presentation of the competition shortlist, the evening provided a fascinating insight into the world of new media. Jim Pope, organiser of the New Media Writing Prize presented the event, revealing that the judges were looking for an “innovative use of digital media” that was both easy and satisfying to use.

The fulfilment of this criteria was the result of a three-year collaborative effort by the High Muck a Muck collective. Composed of writers and artists, the creators of High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese are Jin Zhang, Thomas Loh, Nicola Harwood, Bessie Wapp and Fred Wah. Utilising their varied skillset, the collective married together hand-painted graphics with interactive poems and presented on a map interface that the judges described as “beautiful and visually coherent work”. Premised on the historical and present tensions surrounding Chinese immigration in British Columbia, the digital narrative was one of over the 500 individual entries that have been submitted since the event’s inception in 2010.

Presenting the award was Chris Meade, the mastermind behind the if:book think tank and a key sponsor for the New Media Writing Prize. Accepting the award via Skype, Zhang, Wah and Harwood shared their excitement and thanks with the audience.

Elsewhere in the competition, the winners of the People’s Prize were revealed as transatlantic duo, Viccy Adams and Samantha Silver. Their digital piece was titled Recollections: 12 Vignettes from Lashihai which centred on their experience in the Chinese Province where the creators collected thousands of photographs and interviews. Adams explained that the 12 stories they selected were diverse and representative of their experience. This was clearly effective as the duo saw a domination of the 3000 votes, with almost two thirds in their favour.

New for 2016 was the DOT award, funded by Meade who set up the prize in memory of his mother. The award comprised of funding towards a new media concept to help build and develop it. The winning proposal was that of J R Carpenter; her ‘Picture of Wind’ submission gleamed with the potential that the judges were seeking. Though unsure of the form she wishes her narrative to take, Carpenter captivated the attention of Meade who believed projects needn’t always be aware of their form ahead of construction as experimenting and developing is all part of the appeal of new media. On accepting her award, Carpenter said she was “thrilled to have some encouragement” for her concept.

Meanwhile, Shaun Hickman scooped up the Student Prize on the night. The Bristol-based winner previously studied at Bournemouth University and in his acceptance speech he gave a touching thanks to Jim Pope for sparking his interest in new media. He was awarded his prize by Peter Phillips, CEO of Unicorn Training, where Hickman has won a three-month creative internship. Hickman encouraged the audience to experiment with new media too, advising that we should not let a lack of “technical ability get in the way”.

If anyone summed up the potential that experimenting with new media holds and the opportunities that the New Media Writing Prize presents, it was Nicola Harwood: “we did not know where we were going or where we would land but it was very special to land here tonight”.

Image by Mez Breeze Design.

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