Seasonal holidays are perfect moments to let one’s imagination(s) bloom. One is separated from many things cluttering up everyday lives. Calls & emails are either not coming in or can easily be redirected with „out of office“ replies. Assuming that one is at a certain distance to ever humming urban metropoles and given one has banned online orders from a list of things you do, shopping won’t be an distracting option either (the biggest downside in such a scenario is running out of milk…). And since any and all public authorities are closed, no administrative tasks can be performed either. A rather perfect starting situation to give full scope to any thought experiment.
Only days before this „freed from daily routines“ started, Time’s Up had the pleasure to have Philipp Jonathan Ehmann – an transdisciplinary artist & theatre maker – as guest in our studios. Philipp had not only visitied but obviously deeply explored and enjoyed (that became rapidly clear as he shared his remarks) several set ups of Turnton 2047 over the past two years. Hence his comments and thoughts, ideas for modifications and extensions are of value for anticipated further developments of the experiential future.
Just as much as we valued his fertile and detailed feedback, we appreciated his references to specific literature in the field of storytelling, play, choreography and other areas. One of these „literature-pointers“ we procured pretty much the second after Philipp left the Time’s Up building. A book – written by Stuart Brown – with the simple title „Play“.
It can’t and won’t be denied, that play has a crucial role within the course and conduct of Time’s Up. Dominating pretty much all of our immersive environments offered to audiences to be explored. Play has also been the very first keystones in our minds, as we worked out a range of nine domains of significance in our activities for the Time’s Up anniversary book „Incomplete and Ambiguous“ a while ago.
„Play means that whatever you are doing you are always researching coming to terms with yourself. It is an anti-teleologic process that is not intended for specific objectives or purposes of continually repeating varying hypotheses, ideas, experiments and hit and miss experiences. Not having an apparent use does not mean that the experimentation by Time’s Up is not based on methodical deliberation. In the same way, that the games are not a means to an end in themselves but actually serve a purpose. That games promote experience and the gaining knowledge is already a purpose in itself.“ (an excerpt out of the chapter “Play” within the Time’s Up anniversary book
Back to Stuart Brown and the great read he provides. Full of bright ideas, empirical values and extensive investigations he offers refined scientific footing for several of Time’s Up considerations in a highly pinpointed manner which is joyful in itself.
There is, as one example out of many, Scott Eberles’ thesis of „Elements of Play: Toward a Philosophy and a Definition of Play“ he presents. As difficult the definition of play is, as it is a highly complex and ambiguous concept, Eberle proffers an approach that takes its dynamic character into consideration and posits six basic elements of play.
Starting off with Anticipation (waiting in expectation, being full of curiosity with a tiny bit of anxiety) which leads to Surprise (fostering the unexpected to happen, allowing the discovery of new sensations, insights and shifting perspectives) producing Pleasure as a next step which again triggers Understanding (acquisition of knowledge, synthesizing distinct & separate concepts, incorporation of previously foreign ideas) causing Strength (to master situations is empowering – isn’t it?) to eventually result in Poise, giving a sense of balance in life. Eberle diagrams these six elements as a wheel. Once we reach poise, we are ready to go to a new source of anticipation.
Another finding within the book are Stuarts’ eight types of „Play Personalities“. Starting off with the Joker, the most basic and extreme player, pretty much always revolving around nonsense. Another type is the Kinesthete, who needs to move in order to think, or the Explorer, seeking for alternative universes either in a very literally physical way (new places), emotional (new feelings or deepening of feelings) or mental way (new subjects, insights,…). Well, there is certainly the Competitor as a type, who enjoys playing to win and fights to be number one, as well as the Director, who enjoys planning & executing events of any type, but who at the worst is a perfidious manipulator, the Collector who loves to have and hold the best, the most, the rarest. While the Artist / Creator as type loves to make things and the Storyteller as the eights type loves to imagining alternative and/or simulated realities.
Imaginations – perhaps the most powerful human ability – lead us to another aspect why the study of Browns treatise about „Play“ (without the mentioned „everyday-life“ distractions), was not only a great read in terms of underpinning findings but served superbly as a catalyst for what Time’s Up is in the middle: working out the next adaptation of Medusa 2047.
Some of you might remember the Medusa Bar, the social center within the fictional city Turnton – an experiential future set in the year 2047. The place where you can meet the extremely affable, slightly dishevelled waiter AI-Barbot Colin as well as many other fictional characters, representing the colourful crowd in the vicinity of a commercial port and lively artistic-cultural milieu of a small city close to the ocean in 2047. Characters transmitting content of relevance in the world open to discovery. The Medusa Bar along with its patrons undergoes another stage of character development and the authoring and deepening of relevant story-line aspects for a next display of Turnton in May 2020. We are looking forward to offer a set of new characters and contents, as well as allowing the reunion with known, maybe slightly altered and intensified characters of near future in an even more near future, during the exhibition „Wie im Paradies“, starting on 27th of May 2020.
Last but not least one more discovery while reading Stuart Brown we consider important to share: If you stop playing or exploring in adulthood, you rather likely and easily turn into a sea-squirt… an oceanic creature who stops exploring the world after childhood. Once grows to adulthood, it attaches itself permanently to a rock or a boat’s hull. It stops monitoring the world as it did as a juvenile because the passing current provides enough nutrients for it to survive. Its life becomes purely passive. While becoming the „couch potato“ of the sea it starts to digest its own brain… rather frankly showing one of the basic principles of nature: Use it or lose it!