Interface Jammers: Feeling Like a Child in the City

Project overview

The project explores the question: What does it feel like to be a child in the city?

Cities globally are becoming more inclusive and age-friendly (UNICEF 2018) Enabling people of all ages to co-develop their urban civics is critical for creating communities that are diverse, promote inclusion, and support children to become active citizens as we reorient ourselves within post-pandemic public space. 

The Interface Jammers project promotes the civic agency of children, families, and the community as active urban citizens. It asks: how might young children utilise and respond to their rich urban environment and develop their civics and citizenship? 

This project considers what a city can learn from the voices, participations, experiences, needs and priorities of the children who interact with its interfaces and play, learn and live in it. How do children, as citizens, playfully consider what the interfaces of their city feel like, through my eyes, through my ears, through my nose, through my feet, through my hands? 

Interface Jammers explores how children internationally build their sense of belonging to urban environments so I invite children across the globe to participate in the Interface Jamming project. The project is physically located in Melbourne therefore I am especially interested in the ways young children build their sensory skills and sense of belonging to the city.

The interface

The term interface includes interactive screens, sensors, and automated machines. In this project, more-than-human, and biologic interfaces, such as animals, materials, weather, people, birds, insects and more are also included and thought of as embodied media. 

The Interface Jamming project creatively experiments with young children’s uses of SmartScreen, tangible and embodied media within their urban environments. It also explores non-tangible media such as alerts, sounds, instructions. 

These diverse media that young children encounter can be indoors or outdoors, and in many different contexts. 

These include, but are not limited to:

  • train stations and bus stops
  • hospitals
  • parks
  • learning spaces
  • malls and shops
  • walkways and underpasses 
  • supermarkets
  • public precincts and piazzas 
  • galleries and museums
  • playgrounds
  • sporting venues
  • waterways
  • libraries
  • laneways
  • streets
  • homes and residency spaces  

Interface jamming

Jamming refers to disrupting the expected or mainstream understanding and interaction with an object or image. Jamming has been used by groups such as Adbusters to encourage public awareness of the power and ubiquity of global organisations and companies. As Nicki Lisa Cole suggests,

jamming is often comical and satirical, and uses public performance to raise awareness of the influence of advertising and products.  

Jamming can humorously and playfully help us to think more critically about how we interact with the interfaces that we encounter in our daily lives.  

The project uses jamming as a participatory method to critically examine how interfaces and bodies are expected to interact, and it invites children to interact with, co-explore and interface jam with the technologic and biologic interfaces of their daily lives.  

The project also offers children to use artistic and sensorial methods to co-design and co-curate their own diverse interfaces throughout their urban environment.  

Please visit the project pages to find out more, and how to get involved.