[-empyre-] stepping out of the frame to play around

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Sat Jul 21 05:55:52 EST 2012

yes, i have no problems with the argument at all, Scott (regarding play).
And I am of course interested (and try to engage) affective athleticisms
or forces in multisensory environments we create or find ourselves in. 
These also can be transformative, although I'd be carefully questioning mass
phenomena or massive/collective sensortiziations...

My concern was how the "sensory" or the "play" in interface
scenarios got validated and overvalued in recent interactive art and
interactional design [discourses] in western display sectors, leaving the so-called
interactive turn (which i was excited about initially, admittedly, in
terms of art practice, and then later on came to find severely limiting
and red-herring-ish), and we were talking here about (screen and 
after-screen) interfaces and participatory imperatives in consumption-play-
driven modalities). 

Thus, to remember the analyses of the apparatus posted here,
or the imaginings of cloudy virtual data worlds seemingly ubiquitous or crowdsourced,
i wanted to just pause for a moment and ask about what kind of play you have observed,
how you evaluate or interpret it (again one might think here of large screening projection
works like Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's Body Movies, or even more popular seemingly wide-spreading
events like the "Big Dance Day" that Wayne McGregor organized via the internet on July 14),
and how we feel about the mass ornament today?

Not too long ago, during a workshop at EMPAC in 2010, we worked a lot on programming
and devising interfacial [computational] environments for audience interaction, and I remember
staying up many nights to write a blog on the "social ritual" (Goffman) aspects imputed into such 
participatory designs –  Goffman very interestingly spoke about inter-faciality and keeping/losing face
in such social contexts –    yet then I noticed that in the lab we spent probably most if not all of the time on
programming and testing, not on asking ourselves why we wanted our "users" to do this or that,
and how they responded or might respond, or not respond.


with regards
Johannes Birringer

Scott Mcquire schreibt:

Yes, play, like participation, is a term that is much used in the present,
probably too much.  And of course the conditions of play have been
significantly transformed by its pervasive commodification in the digital

But I'm not sure I want to surrender the term.

Johannes asks:  Why is there so much credit given to "playful" immersion?
why is the sensory valued over the cognitive and pro-active political
organization of behavior and decision making, interpretation, withdrawals,
denials or choosing?

For me, both modalities are important and necessary in any transformative
project.  One of the problems with traditional 'left' approaches to public
space/public sphere was the tendency to ignore the affective and privilege
the cognitive/rational (Habermas, etc).  I was thinking more in Sennett's
sense, where play involves the collective testing and renegotiation of
social rules, both formal and informal, in the course of public encounters.

I think we ignore the affective, sensory dimension of play -- which is the
aesthetic ‹ to our own loss.

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