Wednesday, September 30, 2015

iGraz#2. Public space: from nature morte to nature vivant

Publik, Re-publik. Raum, Traum. Square.

Week 39, 2015 (21-27 September 2015)Concept and props by Veronika TzekovaSupported by Institut für Kunst im öffentlichen Raum Steiermark

After the iGRAZ(1) flash-mob in May 2015, the borders of public were crossed and further stretched with iGRAZ#2 but this time as a pop-up play.

In the week 39, 2015 (21-27 September 2015) the Tummelplatz(2) in Graz was again re-designed through its usage. The place was time-wise randomly and surprisingly flooded by with Tic-tac-toe game sets, appropriated and turned into numerous game-fields for the simplest strategy game Tic-tac-toe (German: Drei gewinnt). The props for the appropriation were the people spontaneously playing and the Street Tic-tac-toe, an author’s game-sets, designed to be played on tiles-covered surfaces using the grid, which they create.

And the first winner and strategies brainstorming
and on 5 x 5 grid by Hungarians visiting Graz on their way to Venezia

and the Akademisches (Gymnasium) tornado
re-public (ohne Beratung und Betreuung)
The Xs and the Os, turned to be more than tic-tac-toe props and kisses and hugs (the acronym XO). My younger fellow citizens interpreted them also as boomerangs, frisbees and halos. And actually they were the ones most freely engaging with the unaccompanied game pieces.
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About the project

iGraz it is not particularly about games and playing. It offers a different frame of reference and questions modes of behaviour in public space, notions of ownership, safety, sharing and freedom in public space. It is about rethinking public space and our role, attitude and relation to it and from here to all agencies involved in its construction, government and policies. Games are perceived as leisure activities and one should not be misled by this. Here the game and its game board/grid are employed as a metaphor for life and representation of systems, society and its members.

Tic-tac-toe is generally perceived as the simplest strategy game. A strategy game is a game in which the players’ uncoerced, and often autonomous decision-making skills have a high significance in determining the outcome. Almost all strategy games require internal decision tree style thinking, and typically very high situational awareness.

Tummelplatz offers opulence of visually well defined grids and I see it as constellation of multiple game fields waiting to be populated. iGRAZ aims to turn physical public space from nature morte to nature vivant. The game set used becomes a simple and universal space rethinking and reuse tool. It challenges to change.

In reference to this I would like also to quote Ivan Ilich: “games are a special form of liberating education, since they heighten awareness of the fact that formal systems are based on changeable axioms and that conceptual operations have a game-like nature.”

(1) „igra“ in most of the Slavic languages means “game”. The “i” before “Graz” also borrows the meaning where ‘i’ stands for “individuality” and “innovation”.
(2) Interesting coincidence is that Google translates “der Tummelplatz” as “the playground”.

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