MIA awards

A film influenced by the responses of its audience and a graduate who completed his studies despite contracting meningitis were among the Plymouth University winners at the 2014 Media Innovation Awards.

Many Worlds, one of many innovative projects devised by composer Dr Alexis Kirke, won the Installation/Exhibition/Event category while Jonathan Brough, who this summer graduated from the BA (Hons) Media Arts programme, was named Student of the Year.

There were further successes in the app category for Plymouth company Elixel, set up by graduates of the University’s Digital Art and Technology course, and for 2003 graduate Korash Sanjideh, who was recognised for his outstanding contribution to the creative sector in the South West.

The Media Innovation Awards are designed to recognise creative innovation and talent, with the 12 categories spawning nominations from Dorset, Devon, Gloucestershire, Bath, Cornwall and Bristol.

Many Worlds is centred around a bizarre physics experiment, but its plot and soundtrack alter based on the moods and emotions of four members of the audience (who are fitted with tiny sensors measuring their heart rate, muscle tension, brainwave activity and skin conductance).

It was one of two projects by Dr Kirke which were shortlisted in the category, the other being a sonification of David Bowie’s career developed in collaboration with Heaven 17 and Human League founder Martyn Ware.

Dr Kirke, a member of Plymouth University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR), said:

“The Many Worlds team were delighted to receive this Media Innovation Award. It was amazing to have support from the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival and the ICCMR in making the film, and it is very gratifying that it has caught people’s imaginations in this way. The level of expertise in the staff and students at Plymouth provided us with the casting direction, cinematography, editing, acting, sound, and the all-important ground-breaking technology required for such a complex and exciting project.”

Jonathan Brough was 19 and in Canada training to be a ski instructor when he was diagnosed with meningitis, and subsequent complications in his treatment left him paralysed from the neck down.

But despite his disability, and the fact he requires round the clock care, he fulfilled his dream of pursuing his studies and in 2014 graduated with a First in Media Arts.

As one of his final year projects, Jonathan wrote and produced a film - Meningitis and Me - about his experiences in the hope of raising awareness of the condition, but also to inspire others with a serious disability to think about what they might achieve in the future. He said:

“It was amazing winning the award for Student of the Year especially after everything I have been through in the last seven years. Being at Plymouth University has helped me to discover a passion for film making that has helped me to express myself and I have worked on several exciting projects.”