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The Ludic City: Exploring the Potential of Public Spaces by Quentin Stevens (Paperback, 2007)
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Visualising the design of conditions for urban social sustainability
Sign up to receive offers and updates: Subscribe. The detachment of the modern city from traditional spatial practices and representations frees the vestigial symbolic potency of its auratic objects. Instead of being organised to sanctify traditional social relations of domination, urban images whether objects or social practices exist as residues and fragments of social memories, dreams and aspirations which can be applied to the task of social transformation through the creation of new myths Buck-Moss In relation to conventional social behaviours, urban public spaces in general are profane rather than sacred.
The city streets are promiscuous, permissive, a quality which Benjamin characterises through the figure of the prostitute Brown-May This freedom which the city inspires can be likened to the rule-bending and rule-breaking of play. It is in the notion of the modern city as the site for the rediscovery, transformation and redeployment of mythic images that Benjamin's analysis of urban experience can be linked with his various observations on play and games.
A rich material and symbolic world remains available for re discovery and creative use.
The Ludic City: Exploring the Potential of Public Spaces
One form of urban play, initiated by the Surrealists, is wandering, free from goals, compulsions and inhibitions, in a heightened state of distraction. Allowing oneself to be led by fate or caprice, one can lose oneself and one's way in the labyrinth of the city, and can encounter both familiar and unfamiliar objects without necessarily having an instrumental purpose for them.
This convergance created temporary changes in social conditions Lefebvre a. The Situationists' aim was to understand 'the urban environment as the terrain of a game in which one participates' Sadler , citing Author unkown b: In modern urban space, social boundaries, cues and conventions can be recognized but also disregarded and transgressed Lyman and Scott Benjamin saw play, like cities, as 'both mythic and demythifying' Gilloch It is a center of possibilities which become realised through the decoding and recoding of its images and pratices.
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One way to free mythic images from their status as spectacle and commodity is to intentionally misrecognize their exchange values. While it evokes familiar meanings, it undermines their authority, both by turning them against themselves, and by denyingany certainty of meaning.
In doing so it makes possible the reclamation of lost meanings and 'reveal[s] a totality of possible social and discursive relations which exceeds the soectacle's constraints' Plant Contrasting the fetishization of the exchange value of the commodity, Benjamin describes child's play focusing on the waste and byproducts of the adult world which can be found in the urban landscape Gilloch Such objects are already freed from their commodity status.
In play , these objects are brought together in a new intuitive reationships through a process of 'playful re construction' Gilloch Such relationships may arise from the recognition of similarities among objects or places which are formal rather than instrumental, and this mode of perception becomes possible in a state of distraction, standing outside recieved myths of origin, purpose and value. Urban space and its symbols are perceived in a state of distraction, outside the focus of people's vision and outside instrumental frames of reference Savage ; Gilloch Another linking theme between cities and play is the richness and heightening of sensory experience, the closeness and concreteness of urban experience.
Unlike other auratic forms of art, which are experienced through concentration, the city assaults all the senses continuously, awakening a wide range of meanings and desires.