How come more and more people experience stress, a constant feeling of being behind, constantly having to run faster to keep up with status quo – all in the context of better-than-ever technology for optimizing our time?
It seems to me that we deal with several different tendencies explaining this paradox: First of all, we deal with the common assumption that life is too short to fulfil all our wishes and dreams of experiences – so maybe, if we speed up the pace, we might be able to accumulate enough experiences that we feel we have lived more than one life.
Second, technology has made it possible to speed up many processes. For instance, transportation has made it much faster to get from A to B. Industries have made it cheaper and easier to consume many types of products. TV, internet and social media make it possible to consume breaking information about the entire world at all times.
Thirdly, many people feel like the accelerated pace makes us live life as if it was a list of things waiting to be checked off. It is as if people try to live up to the pace and efficiency of technology where all time waste is eliminated, all mistakes have thoroughly been sifted through and life experiences have become collectibles. This mentality of growth and progress is threatening the quality of all potential experiences. I believe we need to go through each entire process or experience in its natural length, pace and depth in order to really obtain its value. Because if you speed something up, it’s not the same thing anymore.
This project is meant as a critical comment on the absurdity of these tendencies of modern society. Resonance (a concept from the German sociologist Hartmutt Rosa) is a core value for my project because it states the importance of experiencing in relation to other people. The state of Flow (described by the Hungarian-Amercian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) is a way of experiencing that requires contemplation and complete absorption.Play and movement are potential ways to express this state of Flow or experience resonance between people.
For this project play has become my concrete image of the more abstract concepts behind Flow and Resonance. In my opinion, play is as important for adults as it is for children. Adults might play differently than kids. I also see movement and games as play and it often involves interaction with other people. You can’t measure play, it is not forced upon us, it is not a duty to fulfil, it is voluntary, it is free, it can be random, it is time limited, it is creative, it is repetitive and can create an intermezzo in everyday life.
Play is set up by a frame and some kind of “rules”. These boundaries are exactly what creates the free space – freedom by frames. Play has the ability to absorb us and the power of maddening us, and yet play is an action of amusement. This power of absorption is the essential quality of play as a response to the acceleration and shallow relations characterizing modern society.
I’ve used the play element in different ways throughout my project. I’ve been inspired by playgrounds around Copenhagen and I’ve used the play element of movement to create my silhouettes. See my process to discover more.
Model credit: Alice Delsenne & Jonas Westfeldt Astrup
Photo credit: Linnea Skov
Supported by: MÆRKBARE, Vesterbro, Copenhagen