PAN describes itself as a user experience design studio, dedicated to creating “rich, powerful and affecting experiences” and, I’m going to level with you, I’ve become pretty smitten with them. The group of Goldsmiths grads engage with clever ideas in a fun, accessible and thoughtful way, and they do it with tongues firmly in cheeks, whether its recreating the drama of bomb disposable, exploring addiction or paying homage to the interactive 1990s fantasy show Knightmare (look it up whippersnappers). They are also excellent at documenting their projects, a nice exception to the frustrating failure to do so of some immersive practitioners.
Perhaps PAN’s best-known project was Green = Boom, a reaction to the way in which explosions are portrayed in the media in both fictional and non fictional set-ups. They did the technical side of DFWE’s installation and the intense, up-close-and-personal experience was fun on its own terms but also gently questioned issues of society’s desensitisation to violence.
PAN’s newest project Paul’s Gamble follows Paul McNicholl who is taking the £7 he used to spend on cigarettes and gambling it instead. The series will comprise 12 mini documentaries in short and touches on issues of addiction, luck and escapism.
In 2011, PAN ran The Royal Game of Ur at the Winterwell festival in the Cotswolds – teams helped one member navigate his or her way round a course using a video camera hooked up to the player’s helmet, reminscent of the ITV after-school classic Knightmare.
Last summer PAN helped promote the Stephen King novel Under the Dome by setting up the Thames Gigapixel Puzzle, hiding words from the book’s last sentences in a gigapixel photo of London.