Cities have always been sites for play and games, from the ‘bread and circuses’ of classical Rome to contemporary players chasing virtual characters with Pokemon Go. Over the last few years, around labels such as the Playful & Playable City, an international movement has emerged explicitly promoting playfulness as a design approach for our contemporary cities. By orchestrating playful experiences in our cities, they seek to counter the ever more control- and efficiency-oriented visions of the smart city. Tonight’s speakers will discuss examples of strategies and dramaturgies for playful cities. Can public spaces be activated by making them more playful?
With amongst others
Programme of the evening
Eva Pel – Short film: Sous les pavès, la plage
The city of Amsterdam has a rich history of openness and tolerance. However, the last 20 years the character of the public realm has slightly altered in different ways. This non-narrative film explores five different public areas in Amsterdam and their relationship practice. Although non-narrative, there is a protagonist, we follow a young adult who above all prefers being in the “in-between” space when travelling from A to B. This short film Sous les pavès la plage (2019), was a commission from the Chief Government Architect Floris Alkemade (Rijksbouwmeester).
Michiel de Lange – Connective Spaces
How can people be meaningfully involved in co-shaping the future of their city? In recent years, a research and design agenda has evolved around the “playful city,” which sees play and games as media for harnessing citizen creativity in city-making. This promotes a people-centric view of the smart city in which citizens themselves learn, negotiate and create innovations through play and games. Looking at a number of examples and cases, Michiel de Lange will show the various levels on which citizens can engage and participate in shaping (scenarios for) their city.
Sara Daniels – General Apathy
White, pink and red balloons arched around Sara Daniel as she performed her artwork General Apathy: an art piece from the Dirty Art Department exhibition held at the Bijlmer, Amsterdam, summer 2019. Questioning ways of visibility and possibilities of communication within public space, Daniel uses karaoke and frisbees to engage with her neighbourhood. She embodied the character of an entertainer, public speaker and play-maker, using the spectacle and its own means — the song, the performance and the show — to attract and gather. She reclaims entertainment and play as a potential site for political engagement.
Sigrid Merx – playing the ‘as if’ game
This talk presents two radical performance projects that intervene in public life and space by appropriating a well-known principle from dramatic theatre, the ‘as if’ principle. These projects use this principle to intervene in public space and life, pretending to be something else then art. SELF (Julian Hetzel, 2019)) pretends to be a shop that sells soap made of human fat, an innovative form of upcycling surplus fat from Western society; the money goes to poor people in Africa. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (Dries Verhoeven, 2018)) is a fictive monument dedicated to the fall of the Western man, supposedly to be built at a very real construction site. I will demonstrate how the ‘as if’ strategy allows for a radical form of play and enables artists/designers to play a part in social, political and economic realities while simultaneously undermining them.