PlayArt

by Bernie DeKoven on January 26, 2011

Bob Gregson demonstrating PlayArt

PlayArt “is a new art form that calls for active participation of the viewer and it offers a range of different types of involvement. Some Play Artists focus on shapes and structures, others rely on scientific techniques like mechanical principles, physics or digital technology. Whatever the elements, PlayArt aims to get the audience intensively engaged by creating a playful mindset, by enabling playful and creative activities, and by encouraging hands-on experimentation. It is the intention of Play Artists that their works be touched, manipulated and experienced. Variable or movable sculptures can be rearranged or set into motion. PlayArt captures the viewer’s imagination, stimulates curiosity and gives rise to the joy of discovery and play.”

Start with this wonderful collection of video clips. Then consider the following from the PlayArt philosophy:

Since all of culture and science are based on various forms of play, it behooves us to reexamine our negative attitudes towards this subject. Unfortunately, we are still very much victims of a culture that stigmatized play as superfluous, infantile and frivolous, a leftover of the puritan work ethic. It is the objective of PlayArt to adjust these erroneous attitudes and thereby liberating creativity and the joy of life.

Play is also often deemed too trivial and unworthy to be a subject of art. Obviously we are dealing with another outmoded misconception. Consider the art of the Middle Ages, when religious subjects alone were worthy of depiction. Secular subjects, which are the norm today, were taboo at that time. We call this progressive liberalization from old taboos the “secularization of art”, and PlayArt is simply a continuation of this process.

For many years, artists have been dissatisfied with the distance that exists between museum pieces and the viewer. PlayArt is the inevitable solution to that problem.

My friend and frequent inspiration Brian Sutton-Smith writes:

It is my opinion that the next century will be the century of play; and the heteroglossic activity of artists in this century has been the forecast.  Their divergently creative activities, particularly in the visual arts are an indication of values that are becoming increasingly meaningful to ordinary citizens. The modern public demands ever-greater possibilities for the expression of their own multiple mindedness brought about by the massive informational overload of the modern world. The only way one can react preliminarily to such stimulation is through playfulness, and then secondarily with discipline through art.  PlayArt devised by creative artists is the compromise medium which immediately appeals to all of us by providing playful opportunities through artistic forms.  There is real genius in this proposal.

The bulk of current psychological research on play both on the animal and human levels shows that the novel repertoires of responses developed in such play, elevate the players’ level of creative adaptive capacity.  Play is not just a frill or recreation, but also the preparation of alternative response systems which increase the breath of competence in the players. Our kind of world needs to systematize how we can do this in planned rather than a heedless fashion and PlayArt foregrounds this educational and metaphysical problem.

It is to celebrate. It is to create. It is to play.

link via Bob Gregson


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