Viewing single post of blog Benefits of play in art

It’s hard to say a definite yes or no, it depends on the circumstance. The first issue that is discussed in the chapter is bullying, which isn’t play at all. We all know the feeling of being teased when it’s taken too far. The level of teasing and when to stop is something we should have learnt through our play history.

“One of the prime characteristics of play is a desire to keep the activity going. If one of the parties involved in the play is stronger than another they will automatically self-handicap in order to level the playing field and keep the game going. Self-handicaping us easy to see in animal play, like when the polar “bit” at the neck of Hudson the husky. If you wan to see other examples, simply do a YouTube search for “dog and cat playing”. The dogs are much bigger and scarier, but the crouch low to the ground to make themselves smaller. If they use their paw to swipe at the cat, they do so gently.” Page 178-179

If we are playing properly we won’t hit each other so hard that it hurts. Chester play bites with me but never hurts me or breaks the skin, he knows when how to do it in a playful way and he learnt this as a puppy. My sisters two boys are just working this out, they do a lot of play fighting it’s all part of them learning.

“In play, we learn how to deal with life’s wins and losses with grace. In the end, we learn to shake hands and let the emotions go, something that is useful in “real” life as well as in games. A poor sport can’t do in either arena.” Page 182

It is a really key part of our development, knowing when to stop and when to take it easy, taking turns, winning and loosing. We all love to be the winner but we also need to know how to be the looser. During Covid we have all experienced loss, all of my physical work came to an end and it hurt. Without learning how to deal with loss I wouldn’t of been able to deal with this situation. I’m lucky that I have this skill. The problem comes when you just can’t stop playing, but is that still play? As the gambling advert says ‘stop when the fun stops’. Stuart discusses this with video games and TV:

“I’ve seen kids who are happily playing with blocks on the floor, interacting wit each other, negotiating, inventing new story lines, being energetic and talkative. And then the television comes on and play stops. Interaction is no more. The story line is set by the box, and the kids are merely long for the ride, motionless and mute. Single-player video games are similarly attention hogs and socially isolating.”

“The other concern I have with concern I have with excessive use of screen-based entertainment is that they neglect a deep human need to interact with the material world: to feel the tug of gravity, to physically move through the dimensions of space and time, to feel the physical resistance of solid objects.”

“In Wilson’s view, the hand and brain coevolved and dependent on each other.” Page 184

“a hand is always in search of a brain and a brain is in search of a hand,” Page 185

I found this all so interesting. For parents screens are definitely beneficial, it gives them some quite time to cook dinner or enjoy a bit of a meal out. I’ve used my phone this way in the past. It can encourage some great imaginative play, being Spiderman and saving the world is of course inspired by watching Spiderman. It’s making sure it’s not too much and the child can stop, learning to stop at 5 years old is a lot better than in later life.

“There is scientific evidence that our brains react differently to three-dimensional objects than the do to the two-dimensional representations on video or computer screens.”

“The use of the hands to manipulate three-dimensional objects is an essential part of brain development.” Page 185

Light Pavilion was my first step into digital art. It was still very 3D and didn’t involve screens. I am passionate about the audience touching my work, I think it makes a deeper connection. For a little while I need to design work that doesn’t encourage touch to prevent Covid.19. It seems critical to keep my work playful that it doesn’t head down the screen only route.

“When a real hand holding a ball was presented in the window, large areas of the brain’s visual and associational circuits were activated. When a picture of a hand holding a ball was shown, the visual cortex demonstrated similar arousal but the associational areas were virtually silent as if we are programmed to “see” more comprehensively in natural settings.” Page 185-186

This shows we do really need physical connection within our play. This really pleases me as I do really want my audience to touch my work, to change and manipulate it. This shows how important it to us in our play. As adults our lives are very screen based, most people work with a computer, have a phone and a tablet and watch TV. When my phone started telling me every Sunday how much I use it each day I was shocked, it is still shocking. Having playful installations within public settings that invite adults to use their hands and physically engage with the work seems vital.

“Three-dimensional physical and social play is a ‘better’ form of play, just as a balanced diet is better than one full of sugar hits.” Page 188

Screens definitely have there place. I do think the inspiration they create for imaginative play is great. It’s all about not having too much of one thing and knowing when to stop. This brings the chapter back to the beginning, we need to know when to stop teasing, how to not hit too hard and when the fun has stopped. These are all skills we learn through play as a child, it’s all about finding the right balance.

“Bending the rules and pushing through the limits should happen in the realm of play. They aren’t the side of play – they are the essence of play.” Page 193