Public space is not necessarily a playful place, but still can be considered as a potential site for the encounter and exchange of the members of its respective community or society. To re-instate playfulness as a way of life means to intervene with conditioned social behaviours practiced in public.
Having achieved such a change in public space might also lead to the playful transformation of everyday activities and moods of the private sphere as well. This project Playground is an installative, interactive intervention, which entails making an immense number of formalistic, colourful cubes and several frames available in a public space at the harbour in Lachen. As an object installation, in itself the artwork embellishes and enhances its surroundings, both ornamentally and conceptually through the combination of form with a diversity of colours. As an interactive intervention, the approach is to openly invite passers-by and users of the surroundings to freely play by transforming the set-up of the playground elements and/or using the arrangement as a flexible background for all kind of playful activities.
The underlying approach of the artwork is to address the challenge of working in public space not only by intervening through designed and spatial features, but especially to disrupt established, powerful structures governing societal behaviour. In particular, I propose that such conditioned behaviour limits initiatives to interact with seemingly fixed elements in public space as well as it confines the motivation to interact with others, a situation I aim to change.
While friendly on the surface, the transformative intention of Playground is subversive, using form and colour to challenge behaviour and engagement in public space. As Donald Judd claims in his text ‘Specific Object’: ‘The use of three dimensions is an obvious alternative. It opens to anything.’
Kiesplatz Äussere Haab direkt am Hafen Lachen
(oberhalb des Hafenparkplatzes und links des
Sekundarschulhauses), 8853 Lachen
Play is most commonly associated with children and their spontaneous activities, but play can also be an appropriate, beneficial adult endeavour.
Playfulness is a driving force of creativity, societal cohesion and learning. However, often at some point during the process of ‘growing up’, we tend to lose touch with our playfulness. As the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said: ‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.’1 Ultimately, play leads to the seemingly useless emotion of sheer joy.
Negative associations with or even fear of uselessness could be one factor of the general abandonment of or limitation in range of playful activities in society. Public space is the common arena for practicing societal behaviour. Not only is the nature of acceptable public behaviour prescriptive – if not restrictive – but also public space itself is often designed in a way that does not allow any inclination to playfully intervene in the set-up. Societal interaction is thereby also curbed. When others are not playing, we don’t feel like or even don’t know how to play ourselves. Therefore, to encourage and enhance playfulness in general, the structure of allowable societal behaviour embedded in the respective setting has to be re-thought, so that public space can be re-designed as an arena for strengthening the playful nature of humans of all ages. How? By testing the boundaries of established notions of what is acceptable and through raising awareness of the actual fluidity of the options of engagement in societal settings, the existential promise of the fruits of playfulness can be fulfilled.
Through a play between: static and movability; sculpture/object and interaction; colour, form, and texture.
last accessed 20.5.2015.