Festival for Playful Public Spaces


The Playpublik

Welcome to the invisible playgrounds of your city! We sneak from router to router, sow colors and replant. We hack into mailboxes, learn how to become a zombie, and simulate nuclear war with tennis equipment. Wie pull down the stars and discover new moral laws within us. Together, we stage the final minutes before the catastrophe and see ourselves as if on camera. Are we only pretending to dance? We are the PLAYPUBLIK.

From Berlin, PLAYPUBLIK explores what playful public spaces mean for urban societies: from digitally commercialized cities of western democracies, to new post-socialist spaces in Budapest; from Johannesburg after the end of apartheid to Street Games in Athens during the financial crisis. PLAYPUBLIK is about systems in turmoil and our place in them. Not about 'The System'. But about the many small ones that structure our everyday by transforming our hopes, fears and pleasures. Making games, testing and discussing them can help us better understand how to live in this world.

The Festival is composed of four thematic layers: Regrounding Play, Playing with Location and Control, Playful Politics of Self/Organization, Playing with Fictions and Realities. Every day, one layer is in focus and highlight one aspect of the complex relation of gameplay and public spaces.

Layer 1: Regrounding Play

While urban landscapes are becoming increasingly connected through networked technologies and media, the purely physical properties of cities as material architectures remain fascinating to designers, artists and players. When we put our bodies and minds into play with our physical surroundings, do we hold on to a nostalgic feeling of being someplace real, here and now, together? Is it simply fun to rediscover and reclaim forgotten territory? What are the political of implications of designing and playing in physical urban landscapes?

Layer 2: Playing with Location and Control

Contemporary cities have become hybrid spaces, complex ensembles of people, goods, built structures, digital and physical infrastructures. This opens up completely new challenges of governance. The same technologies that we use to orient and connect can be used to exercise a completely new level of surveillance and control through gouverments and coorporations. Being playful with surveillance technology and locative data is a great way to explore individual and collective liberties, but games are also a great way to track our lives.

Layer 3: Playful Politics of Self/Organization

Citizens of western, liberal democracies face very basic challenges of dealing with the freedoms that have been realized over the past centuries. In loosely regulated economic systems and creative industries there is a constant need to reevaluate the relationships we enter with each other and the position we hold in various collectives (from friendships to business, from love to politics). In games, we can try out and experience ways to organize these relationships and the power structures that are inherent to different systems. Can gameplay in public serve as a political tool for figuring out how we want to live together in the shared space of the city?

Layer 4: Playing with Fictions and Realities

Games in public spaces have the curious effect of putting realities into a new kind of focus, while at the same time demonstrating different – fantastic – versions of how these realities could be. How do different kinds of realities – social, political, economical, historical, biological, technological – come into play and in what ways do fantasies and fictions in games transform or stabilize our socities?

We wish you an interesting stay in your PLAYPUBLIK!
Invisible Playground and the whole festival team