Sensing, thinking, and making

Local Alternatives brings children and young people together with artists and researchers to explore new ways of sensing, thinking and making in the Anthropocene: an age of rapidly changing climates, environments, cultures, and technologies. The project involves collaborative experiments with critical practices and ideas stretching across the arts, architecture, philosophy, science, technology, and the social. Our experiments are ongoing, open-ended, and orientated towards children and young people's sensory experiences, concerns, and imaginings of their local environments. We co-develop and co-produce this work to feed into public exhibitions, social interventions, future projects, collaborations, and networks. 

Local Alternatives involves partnerships between the Manifold Lab at Manchester Metropolitan University, RMIT's Creative Agency Lab, and youth arts collectives, community organisations, museums, galleries, and school in diverse communities. Our current partners include Z-Arts, the Whitworth Gallery, the Young Contemporaries, Manchester Museum, the University of Manchester, Trinity College, Signal and ArtPlay (City of Melbourne).

Sensors as Creative Media

How can we use sensory technologies to generate new forms of collaborative art and research?


Our experiments with sensory technologies introduce new forms of creative mediation and sensory co-production into our work together. We are interested in exploring technologies that sense the world outside the bandwidth of conscious human perception. We are currently experimenting with wearable sensors as creative media for immersive artworks, installations, and social interventions in public space.



artistic and conceptual experiments


How can  creative experiments with strata help us sense the effects of the Anthropocene epoch on everyday life?




How does our awareness of climate change shift our images and imaginings of the Earth?


How do we sense local environments through different scales, speeds, and durations of time?

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How do artistic practices open up new possibilities for sensing and belonging to local places?

We are developing an ogoing series of public exhibitions based on our work in the Local Alternatives project. 


Our first exhibition, called Superpositions, was held at Birley Art Gallery in July, 2018.


Remixing Thick Time opened at the Whitworth Gallery in May, 2019.


Inheriting the Anthropocene opened July 18th, 2019 and ran through September 21st at the Manchester Museum. 


David Rousell (PI, Manifold Lab, MMU and 

Creative Agency Lab, RMIT)

Liz de Freitas (Manifold Lab, MMU)

Michael Gallagher (Manifold Lab, MMU)

Mark Peter Wright (resident artist, MMU)

Laura Trafi-Prats (Manifold Lab, MMU)

Riikka Hohti (Manifold Lab, MMU)

Maggie MacLure (Manifold Lab, MMU)


Local Alternatives has been funded through The Biosocial Research Lab (Strategic Opportunities Fund), a Research Accelerator Grant (Research and Knowledge Exchange, Manchester Met), a Researcher Development Fellowship (Manchester Met), a Leverhulme Artist in Residence Grant, Säätiöiden Post Doc Pool (Finnish Foundation), Creative Agency Lab (RMIT), and in-kind contributions from Z-arts, the Whitworth Gallery, and Manchester Museum. 

We are also connecting the project internationally through partnerships and exchanges with ITU Copenhagen, Roskilde University, Andromeda Gallery, University of Barcelona, University of British Columbia, and the SenseLab at Concordia University. 


Suzanne Smith (Z-arts)

Z-artists (age 5-15)

Whitworth Young Contemporaries (age 15-25)

Hannah-Lee Chalk (University of Manchester)

Sally Thelwell (Whitworth Gallery)

Rabia Begum (Whitworth Young Contemporaries)

Jonas Fritsch (ITU, Copenhagen)

Kristine Samson (Roskilde University, Copenhagen)

Signal and ArtPlay (City of Melbourne)

Contact Us

The Biosocial Research Lab

Education and Social Research Institute

Manchester Metropolitan University
53 Bonsall Street
M15 6GX

Contact: David Rousell,


How do attunements to sonic vibrations, qualities, and imaginings help us to sense local environments differently? 


How do sensory technologies help us to cultivate different modes of feeling, expression, and  environmental awareness?


How can artistic experiments enable us to sense and instantiate changes in atmospheric conditions, compositions, and relations? 


How is our sense of natural and cultural inheritance shifting in times of climate change, biodiversity loss, and ubiquitous technology? 

©2018 by David Rousell and the Local Alternatives team.