Projects > Playable City Sprint > Journal
Today the artists reconvene in the studio to find the table is littered with a plethora of colourful crafts. Coloured pencils, playdough, balloons, and other assorted modelling equipment abound, and it seems everyone is itching to get stuck in and mould, shape, design, and construct the coloured blobs into something altogether more exciting.
It is worth mentioning at this stage that the Playable City Sprint (and most other things that happen at the studio) pivot on Pervasive Media. This term might not be familiar to everyone, in which case, you can find out more about Pervasive Media, here. Also, if you are curious, you can find out just how much potential Pervasive Media has to shape the real world.
Anyway, on with the blog. After a quick catch-up we are joined by Jon Dovey, Professor of Screen and Media, and director at of the Digital Cultures Research Centre. Jon has come to discuss Pervasive Media with the group. Jon's presentation is enlightening to say the least - it is incredible the amount of thought and work that goes into every stage of creating pervasive experiences. Jon and his collegues have been conducting research in this area for years, and the result is the Pervasive Media Cookbook - a website that collects their research and is a bit of a set text for anyone who is interested in using pervasive Media in a creative context, or even just learning more about it.
Jon's approach to Pervasive Media is rigorous, and he opens the presentation with some thoughts on the philosophy of play:
It is in playing and only in playing that the individual or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.
- DW Winnicott, Playing and Reality (1971)
Food for thought indeed. It seems that we are getting to the heart of what this week is about here - a quick glance around the room reveals that I am not the only one who finds there is much to contemplate in these elaborations.
As Jon continues his presentation, it occurs to me that the Pervasive Media Cookbook differs quite radically from my expectations. I had imagined that it would be totally instructive - telling people exactly what to do and how to do it if they wanted to make Pervasive experiences. Whilst the site undeniably contains elements of this, its real value is not in merely feeding people with instructions, but in challenging people to really think about their practise by totally deconstructing the process. I am suddenly reminded of a childhood friend who always used to take his toys apart.
'Why do you always do that?' I would ask. 'I'm playing' he'd reply. 'That's not playing - you're just breaking it!' I'd say, irritated by the confused mess on the floor, and what seemed like his destructive wastefulness. 'I have to take it apart so I can put it back together again.' he'd say, 'That way I can find out how it works'.
And so, Jon seems to be asking us, is it right that we cease to play just because we become adults? Or is there something of intrinsic value that we stand to lose if we relinquish our playfulness? I am sufficiently convinced that there is much to lose.
In play we have license to explore, both our selves and our society. In play we investigate culture, but we also create it
- Silverstone 1999a:64
I find myself thinking of my little friend and how right he was - perhaps we do need to break things so we can understand them. And perhaps, born out of this curiously destructive process that we call 'play', we can gather up all the broken bits, put them back together again, or maybe even use them to build something better...