Future Media Production students from the School of Digital Arts (SODA) have ‘planted’ a host of fascinating digital seed installations at Manchester’s Castlefield Viaduct

A collaboration with the National Trust and creative studio Peter and Paul for Great Big Green Week, the Seedbank of Self project gave students the invaluable experience of using a combination of physical and digital elements to create a unique, interactive experience for visitors.

Each digital seed contains sound, imagery or film content that visitors can interact with via their smartphones.

Students took inspiration for the project from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a secure backup facility for the world’s food supply. Inside, there are millions of seeds from more than 930,000 varieties of food crops. Also known as the ‘doomsday vault,’ its purpose is to preserve our crops in case of a global emergency.

From this starting point, twenty students created seed exhibits that represent their identities through a host of digital media.

Manchester’s sky garden – Castlefield Viaduct, managed by the National Trust. Image credit: Drew Forsyth

“The Seedbank of Self project asked the students to create a piece of media about a part of their identity that they could encode into a digital seed; like a codex of the contemporary age dedicated to the self.

Working with the students and lecturers at SODA, it was plain to see how much potential there is to explore new possibilities between the convergence of interdisciplinary thinking – and the potential to innovate through the liminal space within those specialisms.

“This made the students’ work incredibly rich, varied and diverse both in conceptual thinking and applied media. For me, this fertile blend is the direction for the future of education.”

Paul Reardon, Founder and Director at Peter and Paul

The exhibition dates have been extended until the end of August so that more people will be able to explore the Seedbank of Identity as part of their visit to Castlefield Viaduct.

“This collaboration has provided a brilliant way to showcase both the creative talent of the students and the unique opportunities the Viaduct has presented over the last year as an inspiration and creative platform inspiring artists, residents and visitors alike.”

Dympna Gould, Experience and Programming Manager Castlefield Viaduct for the National Trust

With thanks to Peter and Paul and the National Trust for a fantastic collaboration. Visitors will be able to enjoy Manchester’s sky park until autumn 2024 after the National Trust has been granted an extension by Manchester City Council. The temporary green space, that has revitalised an unused Victorian era railway viaduct, is already a firm favourite with locals, people from across Greater Manchester and tourists visiting the city since it opened last summer, with the pilot made possible thanks to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

The project celebrated its first birthday on 30 July 2023 with the appointment of landscape architects from Manchester based design practice, BDP, which will work with the Trust, partners and the community to develop bigger, bolder plans for the next phase of the viaduct, for which funding is still required. The Viaduct is FREE to visit and open to visitors without pre-booking from 1pm daily.

To read more about Future Media Production and other courses at the School of Digital Arts, click here.