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  • Writer's pictureMoving Parts Arts

2021 Digital Puppetry Commission artist announced

New for 2021 we are running a Digital Puppetry Commission as part of the festival. This is in response to COVID-19 and how the face of arts delivery has changed in the past couple of years. That being said, digital puppetry isn't going away anytime soon - we want to carry this commissioning strand forward in future editions as an integral part of the Moving Parts recipe.

What is digital puppetry?

Digital puppetry can be many things and is very much open to interpretation. A live-streamed show may use real puppets against the backdrop of a green screen. A handheld camera following a puppet-led story may take the audience on a journey not possible in a seated theatre. The puppets in the piece may be built by a 3D printer, laser cutter or exist only in virtual reality. Stop-motion animation passages may be infused with live puppetry. Digital puppetry can be low-fi or slick and shiny; can mix old techniques with new techniques; has the potential to reach new audiences - the focus of this commission is experimentation.


We received a large volume of really excellent applications from artists presenting diverse ideas from all over the UK. It was a real challenge to shortlist these applications due to their quality and creativity. We are thrilled to announce that the artist we chose for the commission is Iain McCall.

Iain McCall takes the story:

I'm an artist and filmmaker based in Glasgow. My videos mostly have a playful and handmade feel to them. I try to make stuff that is fun and accessible and enjoy combining digital and analogue filmmaking techniques. My most recent short film was a sci-fi called Unexpected Item about an awkward date with a sentient self-checkout machine.

Unexpected Item

I'm really excited to have received the Moving Parts Digital Puppetry Commission and to be exploring a new form of digital storytelling. The plan is to create flat-pack card bodies for the audiences' smartphones. These will be posted out to the audience and will combine with an animated face that can play on their phone screens. This will turn the participants' phones into a little character that can sit on their desktop or coffee table and tell them a story.

Unexpected Item

I think most of us have been staring at an awful lot of screens during this pandemic and I'm looking forward to reimagining this relationship. What would a smartphone have to say if it suddenly grew arms and legs and could sit up and look around our physical world? I think it'd have mixed feelings.

The 2021 Digital Puppetry Commission created by Iain will be premiered on Friday 13th August, 7pm as part of the online festival programme. There will also be the option of signing up for free in July to receive one of the 80 smartphone flat-pack cardboard packs so you can directly interact with the commission. Stay tuned for details by signing up to our newsletter.

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