Gilly Karjevsky and Sebastian Quack trace the history of regulating public spaces and introduce Playful Commons – an attempt to strike a new deal between administrators and creative users of the city.
”As adults we can bring all those years of power, experience, compassion, all those competencies and strengths, all the stories and histories, all our sophistication and post-pubescent powers into play. We can release the inner-adult.” -Bernie DeKoven
Public spaces are produced by unique, complex ensembles of individuals and organizations, laws and regulations, informal cultural and political practices, architectures and media ecologies. What practical and regulatory patterns emerge across different geographic, political and cultural contexts? Is it possible to agree on rules for the playful co-production of space?
The last decades have seen a rise in playful, appropriative practices in the public spaces, ranging from street art to skateboarding and parkour, from flash mobs to urban gardening, from performative interventions to location-based digital games. Often, it is completely unclear if these activities are legal, even when they are drawn upon by marketing strategists to convey the image of vibrant, authentic urban lifestyles.
In coevolution with these practices, the “wars” against terror, drugs and homelessness have produced tools to intervene against any kind of behaviour that does not fit into predictable consumer culture. Measures against loitering, “Anti-Social Behaviour Orders” and pervasive surveillance have created a situation where governments and administrators of privately owned properties have become “helicopter parents” of every single user.
With Playful Commons, curator Gilly Karjevsky and game designer Sebastian Quack move the conversation away from fear and towards a positive description of the freedoms we want to grant each other – as mature citizens in a shared environment, taking into account legitimate concerns while allowing play to take place. Building on the idea of Creative Commons, the project aims to create an evolving, modular set of licenses for spaces that can be used playfully – a toolkit for debate, design and regulation.