A unique digital art project will catalogue the memories and experiences of the army of Dundee women behind the legendary ZX Spectrum computer built at Timex.
Abertay University researcher Mona Bozdog (above) is coordinating major public event, Generation ZX(X), which will feature hours of interviews with 11 female former factory workers, geo-tagged around the city’s Camperdown Park.
Beginning at Camperdown House, participants will walk around the park using a mobile phone app to listen to clips at specific locations, marked with colour-coded balloons.
The evening promenade on Friday May 4 is part of an ongoing research project that investigates the connections between performance and video games, and is a partnership between Abertay, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and The National Theatre of Scotland; funded by Abertay, the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities and the Scottish Funding Council.
It has been timed to coincide with this year’s 25th anniversary of the Timex strikes – an important period in the working heritage of the city.
Kicking off at 7.30pm, the walk will take around an hour, culminating in an event at the former Timex factory (now owned by JTC Furniture Group) on nearby Harrison Road, where archive pictures and footage donated by the McManus Museum, DCT Media and STV will be projected onto the side of the building.
The projections will include vintage pictures from within the factory, long lost snaps from staff nights out and film footage of a visit to Timex from ZX Spectrum creator, Sir Clive Sinclair, which marked the manufacturing of the one millionth ZX Spectrum computer.
A series of bespoke games related to the Timex story have been created by Abertay University staff and a student team, Retrospect Games (above), and will be available to play on site in custom and classic arcade-style cabinets.
She said the production of the ZX Spectrum at Timex played a vitally important role in the birth of Dundee’s currently booming video games industry and, as such, the story should be remembered.
She added: “The women of Timex who brought us those computers are the hidden figures of the games industry.
“When you walk to the former Timex Camperdown building there is nothing at all that attests that this legendary computer which marked the beginning of UK’s home computers scene was made there.
“And it was built by these incredible, hard-working women, most of whom never realised what an impact they have made on Dundee’s video games development and education scene.
“I just wanted this project to be a thank you, from our generation to the women of Timex who, through their labour, contributed to Dundee’s future in video games.”
A spokesperson for Retrospect Games said: “It’s been amazing to be involved in such an important project, cataloguing the heritage of Timex and the ZX Spectrum.
“Our team is made up of artists, sound designers and programmers – just as it would be in an independent games studio - and it’s been a really great experience to come together and work on these games.
“I think the Timex story still has such an appeal for people in Dundee and I hope that everyone enjoys what we’ve produced.”
Charlie Malone, a lecturer with Abertay University's Dundee Business School and former Timex shop steward said: “In Dundee, Timex was no ordinary employer, but rather an institution, an institution that connected with all the key stakeholders, from the local authorities, employees, trade unions and most importantly, the communities in which it located its business activities.
“Timex produced generations of the most skilled engineers in the country, world leading brands, its employees, were some of the most advanced in championing workers’ rights.
“Its innovators produced products that would shape the world of computing and spawn the birth of the computer games industry.
“If anyone needed reminding of the importance of Timex to the City, it was evident in the dispute of 1993.
“What sustained the employees was the ‘social’ rather than just the political solidarity of the citizens of Dundee."
In addition to input from former workers, Mona recorded a series of interviews with today’s games industry legends to accompany the projection displays.
At the end of the event - which is part of the NEoN Digital Arts Festival 2018 programme and is supported by Abertay’s Weave cultural outreach programme - there will be choir performances from female Dundee singing groups, organised by Alice Marra.
And just a week later, on Friday May 11, Abertay Digital Graduate Show will launch at Abertay Student Centre, offering up the annual five-day feast of digital art, computer games, VR, sound design and much more.
The creative team behind Generation ZX (X) includes Mona Bozdog, Dr Dayna Galloway, Clare Brennan, Niall Moody, Robin Griffiths, Kayleigh MacLeod, Robert Clark and Alice Marra.
To sign up visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/generation-zxx-tickets-43095007327
Generation ZX(X) supporters include: NEoN Digital Arts Festival, Creative Scotland, Weave by Abertay, Abertay Game Lab, Abertay University, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Dundee City Council, JTC Furniture Group, Timex History Group, Charlie Malone, Alice Marra, Sheena Wellington, Loadsaweeminsinging, Douglas Community Centre and Library, Communities Department - Dundee City Council, Dighty Connect’s Mosaic Group, John Carnegie and Alan Spence, John Gray - (Public Art) City Development, Dundee City Council, The Dundee Rep, The DC Thomson Archives, Dundee City Council (Dundee's Art Galleries and Museums), STV, Hot Chocolate Trust, Paul Farley, Douglas Hare, Danny Parker, Philip and Andrew Oliver, Chris van der Kuyl, Mike Dailly, Erin Stevenson, Robin Sloan, Lynn Parker and the workers of Timex