What is Play?

“Defining play is difficult because it’s a moving target.” It’s a process, not a thing. It begins in anticipation and hopefully ends in poise. In between you find surprise, pleasure, understanding — as skill and empathy — and strength of mind, body, and spirit.”

- Scott Eberle, Ph.D, vice president for play studies at The Strong and editor of the American Journal of Play



I / You / We Play is an invitation to play in a setting that is typically meant for observing and speculation. I wanted to call to attention the importance of play as it goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing. I am interested in exploring how installations and experiences within an exhibition setting can be tactile and interactive when displaying information. I also have to admit this installation was an excuse to let off some steam as the end of the semester crept closer and I wanted to share the fun with the rest of my cohorts. Guilty as charged.

The content I used for this project is based off research done by Dr. Stuart Brown, the founder of the National Institute for Play. Brown has spent decades studying the power of play in everyone from prisoners to businesspeople to artists to Nobel Prize winners. He’s reviewed over 6,000 “play histories,” case studies that explore the role of play in each person’s childhood and adulthood.

The projects I construct examine the dualities between traditional designer roles - to lead and inform - and user collaboration.  To do this, I experiment with generating systems that have functional and aesthetic constraints, but then give the audience the reins to participate how they see fit. In contrast to my previous work, the participant is now engaging with the objects I have left for them, focusing on the physical moment of playing instead of a creating a takeaway item.