What did you do before FutureEverything and what brought you here?
I’ve been with FutureEverything close to two years now, joining first as a digital content producer and then shapeshifting into a Creative Associate role to focus more on our creative projects. Fundamentally I’m a writer/maker, with a foot in both the digital and analogue worlds. But whatever the medium, my focus is always on creative storytelling and audience experience.
My last job before joining FutureEverything was as a Senior Writer with the BBC’s UX&D team, working on everything from scriptwriting to service design; Edinburgh Festivals to the BBC’s first ever audience-ready Augmented Reality app. Before that, I spent many years at The Neighbourhood (a Manchester-based creative studio) as Head of Story, working hands on making films and animations, digital experiences and editorial content. I’ve also worked in photography, event production and as a freelance writer and content maker.
I’ve been so lucky to work with some brilliant folk on many exciting creative projects over the years, but I like to focus my energy on meaningful creative work – the kind that can have a positive social impact. That’s what drew me to FutureEverything.
Do you have a favourite FutureEverything project?
Impossible question! We work with some exceptionally talented thinkers and artists, it’s such a privilege. Everyone we work with challenges me to think differently and see things in a new way. One of my favourites, however, has to be Atmospheric Memory by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, which we co-commissioned with MIF and the Science and Industry Museum. The artworks themselves were technically exquisite and deliciously phantasmagorical – clouds of words written in water vapour, a mesmerising polyphonic tunnel, an exploration of the frailty and fluidity of memory. And Rafael was such an inspiration, talking so eloquently and inclusively to the whole team – it was impossible not to be infected by his energy and enthusiasm. And wow, what an ambitious project!
Oh, and I also found out that Charles Babbage (inventor of the analytical engine, whose Ninth Bridgewater Treatise was a catalyst for the themes in this work) was a member of a Ghost Club… which is very relevant to my interests.
What do you do outside of FutureEverything?
I work part-time with the team, which allows me to keep up my creative practice and bring this research back into our work at FutureEverything. At the moment I’m largely focused on creative writing and traditional printmaking, which I do under the guise of my childhood nickname, Mickeypip. But I’ve also created short films, street art and, more recently, am exploring immersive and interactive fiction.
I recently exhibited at HOME, Manchester and was just accepted into a development lab for narrative games writing (which, given the current global situation, I’m hoping will still happen at some point in the near future). Watch this space!
What do you most look forward to in the cultural calendar?
So much choice, where to begin? Probably the biggest thing for me is Edinburgh Festivals. Such an incredible mix of comedy, art, new writing, film… And the experience of being in the city during the festival is just so vibrant and exciting. I’m also a big fan of Sheffield Doc Fest – so many great new films shown, including some really experimental formats and ideas. It’s a great place for creative and critical discussion. I’d also love to go back to Ars Electronica. We were there as FutureEverything a year or so ago delivering some workshops, but I’d love to return as a visitor with a bit more free time on my hands to soak up the huge array of activity on offer.
What are you reading?
At the moment I’m on a bit of neuroscience kick, looking at how things like creativity, storytelling and even anxiety or stress impact upon and shape our brains and behaviour. I’m especially interested in the perceptual quality of experiences, and how our brains are constantly spinning a yarn about our identities, and our place within the world we have constructed around ourselves. This has a huge impact on how we act in the world, and how we live well together. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pretty incredible that we can physically alter our brains by the nature and process of telling stories.
A few things I’ve read over the last few weeks: The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan (the writer of Brain on Fire, also an excellent book), River of Consciousness – the last collection of essays by Oliver Sacks, and Will Storr’s Science of Storytelling (which, as a writer, I especially love). I’m also prone to dipping into dystopian fiction, but now is probably not the best time to be reading Lord of the Flies…
If you want to connect with Michelle, you’ll find her here:
@mickeypip on Twitter & Instagram