Andrew Wilson has been using mobile technology for creative participation for more than 10 years. In 2001 he designed the Guardian's text message poetry competition, which had 7000 entries in two weeks, and attracted worldwide media coverage. In 2003 his City Poems project was among the first wave of artworks to explore everyday mobile communications technology, the city, public space and creative participation. City Poems was commended in the British Interactive Media Awards and adapted by Antwerp World Book Capital in 2004.
Between 2003 and 2010 he was co-director of Blink, an art and technology organisation that established a track record of being the among the first to find creative uses for new features of consumer mobile technology, including camera phones in 2004, mobile video in 2004 with a commissioning scheme for young film-makers in England and Scotland called Pocket Shorts, and bluetooth sharing in 2005 (presented at the Edinburgh and Rotterdam film festivals, Tate Britain and touring). Between 1999 and 2008 Andrew ran regular short film screenings at non-cinema venues in five cities across the Yorkshire region and, funded by the regional screen agency, Blink commissioned more than 50 micro budget short films, almost all of which went on to festival screenings in the UK and internationally.
In 2006 Andrew began experimenting with RFID/NFC (the technology used in Oyster cards) to explore how "smart city" infrastructure could be hacked to turn the built environment and public space into a space for games and storytelling. The third of these projects, Five Trees Forest, using NFC enabled mobile phones, won a Yorkshire Digital Award in 2009 and was presented at the Children's Media Festival in Sheffield and the Sheffield Literature Festival.
From 2009 to 2012 he developed Free All Monsters! a worldwide mobile phone Augmented Reality game for families based on the Free Manchester's Monsters! text message game, in collaboration with Dr Paul Coulton of the School of Computing at Lancaster University. Andrew has co-authored papers for conferences including HCI 2010: 'Play is a Serious Business'; Digital Games Research Association 2011 and Advances in Computer Entertainment 2011. He has participated in workshops on social and cultural understandings of pervasive computing and mobile devices at a number of international computer science conferences, and in 2004 he was the ACE/AHRC Arts and Sciences Research Fellow in the School of Biology at Newcastle University, exploring portable technology and the science of co-operation.
Andrew is trying to work out a socially engaged arts practice that recognises playful innovation with technology, the value of small enterprises, and a concern with the process of adoption of technology by participants and organisations. As a structure to enable this socially engaged practice, in 2010 he founded Thumbprint Co-operative, and he has worked with large organisations including the BBC, Greater Manchester Police and Kirklees Council as well as local councillors, front line council staff, third sector organisations including a drugs treatment agency and an arts and mental health charity, and small voluntary groups such as a tenants and residents association and a community allotment. Part of this work has been in partnerships supported by funding from NESTA through three of its national programmes, Reboot Britain, Make It Local and Innovation in Giving.
Andrew is director of Foldup, a Community Interest Company using all sorts of technology to tell handmade stories, and a board member of The Poetry Business, one of the best respected independent poetry publishers in the UK. He has written a 90 minute radio play broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and a book of poetry that was discussed on Radio 4's Today programme and in The Observer. Andrew initiated and organises Hannah festival and directory, a celebration of great stuff happening in places in England's north. The first edition, in 2013, and raised its modest budget through a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.