Is this play? inter-ordinary rhythms

ABULHAWA, Danielle (2013). Is this play? inter-ordinary rhythms. In: Philosophy at play, University of Gloucester, 9-10th April 2013. (Submitted)

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The popular idea that play exists within its own world separate from ordinary life (Caillois 2001, Csikzentmihalyi 1971, Riezler 1941) is commonly attributed to the writing of Johan Huizinga in his theorising of characteristics of play (1970). This theory, that play involves a ‘stepping out of real life’ (Huizinga 1970: 26) applies easily to organised forms of play, such as sporting events, board games, playground games and theatrical presentations or artistic play in which there are often set places – buildings, areas or environments – in which these activities occur; there are rules of engagement that, at the very least, set parameters for how the play activity will begin or function and there are other elements that set aside the activity from ordinary life, for example a physical or imagined arena in which the activity takes place and the integration of costumes or special clothing, as well as a range of specific gestures, actions and phrases that constitute part of the language used during play. Since 2009, I have been engaged in an on-going research practice that involves me making playful use of street furniture, objects, paving and architecture in public, urban settings. The type of play is best described as free, improvised and vernacular, representing an interventionist approach not bound by specific rules, assigned to specific areas or that has any recognisable prior language. It is play that operates 'within the world' and not so much 'a world of its own'. Concepts of a play world suggest that play separates the player from ordinary life, detaching them from reality. It suggests that play and games function as an escape or release from the ordinary. Stephen Nachmanovitch presents a different perspective, likening play worlds to parallel universes because they operate within ‘alternate time-streams that work according to their own laws and patterns different from the everyday’ (2009: 15). Nachmanovitch suggests that play, as an imaginative faculty, might have an effect upon the development and progression of a ‘real’ or ordinary world. In my own experience, the relationship between an ordinary and play world is not one of distance from, but rather of perforation into. Using my practice as case study, this presentation explores these ideas, presenting an argument that play might be understood as a practice that functions through inter-ordinary rhythms; of the body and of spaces and places.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Humanities Research Centre
Depositing User: Danielle Abulhawa
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2013 09:35
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2013 09:35

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