Play On, MacDuff.

So I happened to be passing by and noticed that someone had stuck a bunch of mostly red plastic cups in a fence, and of course I had to stop and take pictures of it because I’m weird, although probably not as weird as someone who’d stick a bunch of mostly red plastic cups in a fence and not even try to put them in some kind of order or pattern. Or maybe the original person did make some kind of pattern, reminiscent of the Lite Brite toy many of us had as kids, and then someone else came along and rearranged the cups so it was just random and looked stupid, also reminiscent of the Lite Brite toy many of us had as a kid, and it would be even more reminiscent of the Lite Brite I had as a kid if one of my friends had come by and rearranged it to say DICKS.

Some might think it’s a stretch to call this art—and some might think this is a terrible waste of red plastic cups which are more often a common symbol for “YES I AM DRINKING CHEAP ALCOHOL”, but that’s another story. Consider, though, that toys have an aesthetic design which isn’t usually thought of as art for the same reason that most other mass-produced objects aren’t thought of as art.

Speaking of toys and art consider this:

Source: MOMA.orgThat’s The Palace At 4 AM, a 1932 sculpture by Alberto Giacometti. It looks like a pared-down dollhouse, doesn’t it? It also kind of reminds me of the Scottish play, specifically Act V, scene 1, but that may be getting too high-falutin’ for, um, play. Giacometti even made some other sculptures that were meant to be played with as toys, but because they were made out of plaster and fairly fragile and because Giacometti went on to become a famous sculptor whose works are now worth millions those “toys” can’t be touched anymore, which ruins the purpose.

Also consider that all art—and all science, too, since science also requires creativity—begins with play. Art and science begin with us learning to play with the world around us, because play is a way of shaping the world and understanding its rules and limits. And that’s why I’ll leave you with this final thought from none other than Captain James T. Kirk:

“The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.”

13 Comments

  1. Alien Resort

    Kirk liked to play Fizzbin.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      But only after dark on Tuesday.

      Reply
  2. mydangblog

    I loved my Lite Brite—I remember that there were always a couple of blank sheets so you could make your own designs and I’m sure mine looked like those cups. Is that a sausage in the castle? I can’t quite make it out, but I do like the pterodactyl skeleton!
    mydangblog recently posted…My Week 259: Does This Answer Your Question?My Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The blank sheets were my favorite part of the Lite Brite. I liked creating my own, usually abstract, designs too. Sometimes I just filled the entire screen with the plastic pieces and pretended it was a computer screen. Needless to say this was long before I had a computer.
      And I’m pretty sure that’s a female figure in the castle. So definitely not a sausage.

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    I love the way your mind works, which I’m realizing is very similar to mine, which is one step closer to believing there’s some good in there and I’m not just “weird.” Although I must confess, I would have felt compelled to remove the red plastic cups in the name of science, due to the understanding of what we are doing to our planet, which strips the play out of artistic expression, and I suppose makes me a DICK. 😉

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      There’s nothing wrong with concern about what we’re doing to the planet, although for me turning the plastic cups into art was a way to keep them out of a landfill. Unfortunately they’ll probably end up there anyway which is why I would have liked to see that in a museum instead of a vacant lot.

      Reply
  4. Bryce Warden

    Gawd I loved my Lite Brite!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The Lite Brite really was a cool toy, so simple but so clever.

      Reply
  5. Ann Koplow

    Thank you for the complexity of your mind and the playground you create for us here, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s having others to play with that make the playing fun, and I’m glad you’re playing along.

      Reply
  6. Arionis

    I rocked my Lite Brite when I was a kid. Also jammed on my etch-a-sketch.
    Arionis recently posted…Breaking A Little Bit BadMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’d forgotten the Etch-A-Sketch, but how could I? Such simple, fun, creative toys, although it was easier to take a Lite Brite apart.

      Reply
  7. stephen micheal

    Thank you so much for posting this guide with detailed information. Keep up the good work

    Reply

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