Posted by on December 3, 2008

From the always remarkably smart and interesting Life Without Buildings blog:

A sculptor with a sense of humor (“postmodernist fun,” some have said), Chris Saucedo creates site-specific work that transforms galleries into gameboards and back again. In the above image, a small scale-model of the New Orleans art gallery, Good Children, has been built in the form of one of those get-the-ball-through-the-hole games. Installed next to the model is a scaled depiction of the game’s “ball.” Thus, space becomes an unplayable, implied version of the carefully crafted “game” where visitors actually occupy the board. Saucedo’s installations repurpose and reprogram architecture without actually building anything or changing the space.

What's most interesting here is the implication that a place can be turned into a play space through the manipulation of spatially anchored signs, and even more odd, that the final space becomes "playful" even though you can't actually play with the space, only in the space. This isn't a particularly unusual move, either. When someone decorates their home office after Disney's Haunted Mansion, for example, you don't turn your desk into a ride, but a sign for the ride. The desk becomes playful even though you can't ride it.
The implication here is that we have a set of signs for play and for fun. And despite some notion that play and fun are activities, it seems pretty clear that they are also strong concepts. Putting a poster of some idyllic beach on your office wall isn't just about daydreaming, it is also an invocation of the fun, an invitation to let the mind play at the notion of leisure.
This also reminds me of an event a few years ago promoting Second Life. We were at a bar in San Francisco. On screen was a virtual version of the bar, recreated in Second Life, with various online avatars partying along side in parallel. The superimposition of the real and the virtual was a happy co-incidence rather than anything jarring or stupidly fake.


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