James Edward Marks of PlayLa.bZ takes a look back on our Open Worlds week. If you’d like a heads ups on future bootcamps, sign up to our newsletter and get all the news first (subscribe is to the right of your screen).


A digital graphic, at the centre a pixelated, very distorted image of a head and shoulders, maybe someone in a suit and tie? This figure and the background a in a palette of light turquoise blues. To the right is a blast of orange and pink pyschedelia that emanates from the right hand side of the face. Superimposed on all of this is a white line rendition of a pyramid structure containing an eye drawing, with rays shooting out in every direction.

As Marcel Proust, the 20th Century critic and writer of the longest novel in the world.. poetically expressed.

“The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds.” Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

A spot-on human reflection that resonated with the stellar Birmingham Open Media Lab “Open Worlds – Immersive Arts Bootcamp”, and especially poignant for these sociodigital hyper-connected  technologically changing times.

A photograph of the PlayLa.bZ set up at open worlds. A wooden desk has an arrangement of screens and tech, laptops and also a potted plant. There's a tripod to the left with what maybe a webcam mounted and to the right is a chair with a massage back. There's an iPad mounted on a tripod behind it. A green fluorescent flag hangs from this, with the logo of Extinction rebellion on it. On the wall behind the desk is a the words 'Open Worlds' projected on the wall, with a multicoloured burst of rays in the background.

“Open Worlds” manifested as a welcoming maker zone home and mind expanding  creator week right in the heart of Brum, the perfect opportunity to share our “PlayLa.bZ – Multi-dimensional Motion Arts” philosophy and latest DiY changemaking createch research and development, in immersive counter-narrative storytelling experiences.

This pioneering learn by doing project based bootcamp, delivered a multicultural, neuro-inclusive learning zone for the curious creative thinker and experimental storyteller. To play, craft, collaborate and excite the ‘Open World’ creators to spark up ideas – from a pencil storyboard, to crafting a conceptual pilot and finishing with the freestyle adrenalin rush of pitching their artistic vision. Incredible inspiration for more open access action and open mindset understanding in the community arts.

“The job of the artist is to upset all the senses & thus provide new vision & new powers of adjusting to & relating to new situations.” Marshall McLuhan, Art as Survival in the Electric Age

“Open Worlds” mixed curated practical workshops on accessible creative technology, spatial computing art tools and game engine software applications, supported by action packed hands on demos and enlightening talks from variety of PlayLa.bZ friends, including established future gazers, artists, academics and entrepreneurs.

An abstract graphic image, blocks of yellow and magenta fly through a cosmos of purple and pink. A small unidentified logo hovers at top right. A line-drawn cube containing circles of vivid green and blue.

“..making it possible to even change the paradigm of storytelling & of social interaction” Stephen Spielberg, Kinect E3 Preview

The “GenieMo – Video Capture on a Shoestring” workshop covered the essential DiY basics of storytelling and performance arts using accessible Kinect Depth Kit, NUCs and variety of spatial video displays: Looking Glass Portrait, VR Cardboard & GenieMo Lamp.. Guided by Marius Matesan (PlayLa.bZ Co-founder, Ravensbourne University London Honorary Fellow & Mixed Media Artist) nurturing the co-creator teams into making a “Feel It!” original immersive storytelling experience.

A photo from the GenieMo motion capture workshop. A group of the participants are crouching as a standing member of the groups films them with his phone? James attends to a laptop computer where digital imagery will become the background to the captured images of the participants being filmed.

“All the World’s a GenieMo Stage!”

We introduced the bootcampers to DIY real-time spatial video streaming, volumetric capture, and virtual production, ‘Open Worlds’ perfectly tuned into our community interest cultural vision to empower the next gen of immersive arts creators, providing them with our Innovate UK supported GenieMo software application and opportunity to join the ‘Spatial CadetZ Pioneers’ early alpha access program on Steam.

A photograph of the laptop screen of one of the Immersive Arts Bootcamp participants. In an earlier workshop she had created a magical 3D world of geometric shapes and in the GenieMo motion capture workshop has added a small moving avatar of herself and a colleague, they now reside in this new world. The feel of the image is a vivid and colourful digital world.

“Awww such an enriching experience..”

BOM Lab, Open Worlds Bootcamp, Spatial CadetZ Pioneer

Seeing the cross pollination of ideas, virtual world development and conceptual narratives evolve in just a few hours, with GenieMo helping connect the multi-dimensional dots, by instantly bringing the 3D crafted experiences to life, using green screen free virtual production and volumetric video capture really felt like a magical memorable week for our bootstrapped start-up.

“according to Guinness World Records – is the fastest-selling consumer electronics device on record” BBC News 2011

An extra feel good outcome supporting our involvement in Take The JUMP – BY TRYING SIX SHIFTS TO PROTECT OUR EARTH a grass roots movement that flows with several of our community interest mantras, for a more balanced life on spaceship earth. We often utilize upcycled technology for projects and GenieMo is retro compatible with older generations of X-Box Kinect Kit, the fastest-selling consumer electronics device in world, so was fab to experience an ‘Open Worlds’ installations utilizing GenieMo for a live artist showcase with upcycled XBox Kinect, and another artists installation using VR Cardboard and SubPac haptic sonics.

“Keep electronic products for at least 7 years” Take The JUMP Now

A photograph from the Open Worlds Social event, where participants of our workshops got to show invited guests their work. Here artist Alex Billingham shows two visitors her work on a screen. The work is a vividly coloured magical world. The photo was taken in the evening so overall it's quite dark with a small jewel-like rectangle of hyper bright colours which emanates from the computer screen.

“Open Worlds” delivered a mind blowing knowledge share bootcamp for anyone looking to expand their horizons and explore new inner and outer creative frontiers, fingers crossed for “Open Worlds II” aka “Return of the Spatial CadetZ”.

Big cyber Hi5s to all the BOM Lab’s crew & ‘Open Worlds’ open minds!

James Edward Marks, PlayLa.bZ Co-founder, Ravensbourne University Honorary Fellow & Renegade Economist

A graphic image. A multicoloured disc, predominantly yellow and gradations of purple, hold a small cube like logo. Surrounding that are the words, Spatial Cadetz, GenieMo by Playlabz.'

PlayLa.bZ Community Interest Company

Co-founded by PsychFi, FreekMinds & Squire Studios we’re a next generation multipotentiality,  multi-award-winning, multi-dimensional motion arts experience design laboratory, developing DIY changemaking createch immersive experiences & software applications for social good storytelling. Partners & Friends: Innovare UK, Mozilla Festival, Jisc: Digifest, Beyond Games, Tate Modern, Furtherfield, Boomtown Fair, Sci-Fi-London, Ravensbourne University London, UAL, East London Dance, NESTA, Modern Panic, ArtFutura, Kimatica, Kings College London, Looking Glass Factory, SubPac, Ecologi, The JUMP, BOM Lab, Mondo 2000, V&A, Nutkhut, Kew Gardens, PZYK, Breaking Convention