MAGIC CIRCLES FOR MIDTOWN: A CONSTELLATION OF PLAY
A Week-long Instensive workshop for design students at University of Texas, Austin
The area defined by Guadalupe, MLK, San Antonio and 15th street might be defined as an uninteresting, ‘placeless place’, a transitional zone between destinations, meaning- less in and of itself, yet it is replete with parking lots, parking structures, crosswalks and buildings. For whom is this space a daily destination, or a passageway, and what might be the quality of that experience? If we start with the assumption that the quality may not, in fact, be particularly positive how can we address it towards positive ends? How can we alter the daily experience of this site in ways so that it becomes ‘interesting’, ‘meaningful’, and acquiring definition for it’s citizens?
"The fact that the magic circle is just that—a circle—is an important feature of this concept. As a closed circle, the space it circumscribes is enclosed and separate from the real world. As a marker of time, the magic circle is like a clock: it simultaneously rep- resents a path with a beginning and end, but one without beginning and end. The magic circle inscribes a space that is repeatable, a space both limited and limitless. In short, a finite space with infinite possibility." –Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, Rules of Play
Magic circles refer to the space of a game containing it’s own rules, apart from daily life into which players enter: the diamond of the ball field, the checkered square of the chessboard. For the purposes of this project, it can be considered the space in which your audience is offered a moment of play in their day.
What sort of magic circles can you create in which its rules differ, flip, confuse or otherwise shift the user’s daily rituals? Are there prescribed zones into which you can insert play?
At the end of the workshop, we will draw together your circles into a walking constellation. We will map them out as a group and engage in them together walking from circle to circle as a series of interventions.Our goals are to inspire dialogue, offer chance encounters, surprise, delight, new meaning and lingering memory. Your task is to play and be socially generous with your audience.
We will establish the daily sequence of events that envelop them and either shift, replace or add an event to that experience through the implementation of objects, performances, instruction sets or spatial installations. For example, if you define your audience as office workers, and the sequence of events: Drive to work > Pull into parking lot > Park car > Exit car > Walk across parking lot into building > Walk through building to office > Enter office > Sit down > Start working
What effect will the insertion of a swimming pool offer them? Where might, spatially and sequentially, the swimming pool be inserted? To what ends? Are they, in their normal sequence of events, prepared to take advantage of your gift? How will it be read and experienced?
You do not have to create a game, but you do have to consider your audience, their relationship to the site (the context), and what might insert meaningful play into their day.
***Caveat: You’ll be working on site without the use of your computer. You may make sketches at home on the computer, or generate necessary type to bring to the site, but in order to make the most of our 2.5 days, you will be working with your hands in space.