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Play in the City 2013

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Anne Dalke's picture


Welcome to the on-line conversation for Play in the City, an Emily Balch Seminar offered in Fall 2013 @ Bryn Mawr College,  in which we are addressing the question of how we construct, experience, and learn in the act of play. How is play both structured by the environment in which it occurs, and how might it re-structure that space, unsettling and re-drawing the frame in which it is performed?

This is an interestingly different kind of place for writing, and may take some getting used to. The first thing to keep in mind is that it's not a site for "formal writing" or "finished thoughts." It's a place for thoughts-in-progress, for what you're thinking (whether you know it or not) on your way to what you think next. Imagine that you're just talking to some people you've met. This is a "conversation" place, a place to find out what you're thinking yourself, and what other people are thinking. The idea here is that your "thoughts in progress" can help others with their thinking, and theirs can help you with yours.

Who are you writing for? Primarily for yourself, and for others in our course. But also for the world. This is a "public" forum, so people anywhere on the web might look in. You're writing for yourself, for others in the class, AND for others you might or might not know. So, your thoughts in progress can contribute to the thoughts in progress of LOTS of people. The web is giving increasing reality to the idea that there can actually evolve a world community, and you're part of helping to bring that about. We're glad to have you along, and hope you come to both enjoy and value our shared explorations.  Feel free to comment on any post below, or to POST YOUR THOUGHTS HERE

tomahawk's picture

Spill the Beans

If I figure out the cure to cancer, do I have to tell society?

My immediate answer is no. No one has to do anything. I strongly believe this. I do not have to wake up tomorrow morning, I do not have to go to my ESEM, and I definitely do not have to buy everyone Christmas presents.

But, I now realize a hang-up of semantics. It is not that I have to tell society, but that I should. 

Imagine if your neighbor gave you a teaspoon of salt, and you used that salt to make macaroons. It would be nice of you to give your neighbor a macaroon, but you don’t have to. Similarly, if society gives you all of the tools that help you shape your identity and your thoughts, you don’t have to give them your innovative ideas.

However, you should. Since you would have never made the macaroons without the salt and you would have never come up with the idea without society (the education you received, all of the experiences that allowed you to formulate this idea etc.), you should give your neighbor a macaroon and your idea to society.

clarsen's picture

Barnes Foundation


Visiting The Barnes Foundation a few weeks ago nearly felt like another art history trip to a museum.  Cézanne, Courbet and many other artists we’ve been studying the past few months covered the walls.  As I reflected with Peter Paul Ruben’s The Incarnation as Fulfillment of All the Prophecies, I noticed that much of what came to mind tied in to a previous lesson I had had in that class.  I over analyzed rather than allow myself a natural experience.  Previously, I had given little thought as to how paintings and sculptures in museums spoke to one another.  Barnes successfully ties his collection together through his use of furniture and metal pieces thereby creating his own work of art.  The Art of Steel added to my curiosity and allowed me to question both the motives and decisions behind the move of The Barnes.  There was much controversy behind the choice to change the location to Philadelphia, yet how did it alter the foundation and artwork in the long run?

Yancy's picture


I seldom came to somewhere to see pictures by foreign painters because I believed if I could not know those painters’ background, I would not understand the deep meaning of their works. So, I just treated those works respectfully in my heart and refused to see them. However, my experience today changes in some degree my mind. And I think although the background is un-known for me, it won’t influence my enjoyment.

There are thousands of art works in front of me. Some are made by very famous painters such as Van Gogh or Monet, and others are made by unfamiliar names. I walk from one room to another, those works on the wall look at me silently, and I try to choose one work that shocks me or causes my interest. When I enter in a new room, I decide to sit for a break. Then, when I notice the picture on the wall, I know, the one I need is here.

tflurry's picture

Final Trip Plans

Sorry, I accidently deleted this!

I had intended to go to a poetry slam on Friday, but was unable to, due to a conflict with my performance of Henry IV. Instead, I shall go to the Macy’s Christmas show, not too far away from city hall. I intend to try for original, deep play, rediscovering the light show and Christmas spirit, through one of the methods Walker Percy proposes- seeing the wonder through the lens of the tourism.

Claire Romaine's picture

The Morality of Forgery

coauthored by Frindle


Frindle's picture

The Morality of Forgery

Co-authored by Claire

In writing a paper on forgery, it is necessary to first state the definition of plagiarism and forgery. Plagiarism is a reproduction or seizure of another’s work without proper accreditation.  Forgery, on the other hand, occurs when someone reproduces a work of art (or style thereof) and puts a different creators name on it (e.g. painting in the style of Van Gogh and putting his name on it).

Society teaches us that stealing is wrong, and this includes stealing someone’s identity. In the case of art forgery, it is wrong because it uses another person’s name and reputation to make money, without the consent of the aforementioned individual. Copying another work is acceptable, but using another person’s name is not. Painting in the style of Van Gogh and then telling people it was a new painting of his that you found is equivalent to writing in the style of Shakespeare and then saying it was a new play written by The Bard Himself. In both of these cases, the work is being unveiled not because of how happy it will make people or how beautiful it is, but because the presenter wants prestige and, potentially, money. If someone wanted to bring happiness to people, they could do that without using a different creator’s name.

Samantha Plate's picture

How Should We View Art?

Samantha Plate

Play In The City

Mark Lord


How Should We View Art?

            In my viewing of The Postman at The Barnes Foundation, I experienced two different ways in which to experience the painting. After writing my paper, learning more about the history, and participating in class discussion, I have begun to question those two techniques. More importantly, I began to question which method was better. Is the experience of viewing art, and learning, through feeling and emotional connection better than through analyzing the details?

My automatic reaction to The Postman led me to view the painting through feeling. I made an emotional connection with the painting and I let it speak to me. I did not try to think about certain things, nor did I try to become thoughtless. The thoughts that ran through my head contained a range of emotions and resulted in the urge to cry. I felt like I truly saw the real beauty in the painting, and without any outside influence. I was aware of the experience I was having in a way not unlike deep play. Surely this was the best possible way to view a piece of art, the best way to learn.

Grace Zhou's picture

value in Barnes

    Barnes foundation protects the “art”, the true art itself and the pure way we evaluate them. After reflecting on how we value the arts nowadays, I respect Barnes ideas more- the arts should not be hung on the wall of a museum individually but serve as the lessons that can educate and inspire people. Thus, Barnes is not a simple place collecting many priceless arts, but a brave knight who insists in purifying and simplifying the purpose of art and how we interact with it.

    Most of contemporary people show more respect to those paintings by famous artists. It’s easy to find many tourists in the museum with the headphones from audio tours inserted in their ears. They keep nodding their heads, just like agreeing with the authorities of evaluating arts. Following the step the tour suggested, they scan over the paintings carelessly but at same time, they act like the experts who grasp large amount of the knowledge of analyzing the arts. Just like the tourists visiting the Grand Canyon, these people, “instead of looking at it (Percy)”, they try to “come face to face with an authentic sight.... and that they see the sight and come away rewarded? (Percy)” In other words, it is increasingly evident that people view the arts which are supposed to be worthy.

ecohn's picture

My final trip into the city

Yesterday was pretty stressful! I left my rehearsal early in the afternoon (around 1:30 in order to catch the 1:50 Septa), and discovered about four inches of snow all around me--the most snow I've ever seen in my life. 

Once I got to the city, I went into Reading Terminal Market for about half an hour. Walking around the different boothes is always relaxing and lovely, and even though it was cold outside, the temperature was fine inside!

By far, though, the highlight of the market was the little train and town set up. In the middle of the market, there was a glass case, probably about 3 feet wide by 7 feet long (total estimate, but it was decently big). Inside of it, there was a small, and very detailed town! There were little trains that ran through the town, and a big group of people were standing all around the glass case, many of whom were small children, which was really sweet to see!  

ecohn's picture

Who is "Barnes?"

Ellen Cohn


Barnes Reflection

Play in the City

Who is “Barnes?”

            Alfred C. Barnes was born in 1872 to two working class parents. He proceeded to build himself up in the world, and became a true renaissance man—meaning that he was educated in many fields and created a name for himself in many various areas. With all of the time we have spent in class studying his foundation, the movement of it, and his perspective on how it should be used, I began to think about how the actual person Barnes fit in. How did his personal life tie into his motives in creating the foundation, choosing the specific works he collected, choosing the location for the foundation, and limiting the audience.

            Barnes’ first success was in the medical field. At the age of twenty-seven, Barnes worked with a German chemist to develop a drug—Agyrol, which was marketed as a treatment for gonorrhea. During this time, Barnes showed a business-oriented mind, and the drug became an immediate success financially. By the time he was thirty-five, Barnes was a millionaire. He sold the business in 1929, a few short months before the stock market crash (which led to the Great Depression). He also conveniently timed his sale to happen before the discovery of antibiotics, which soon replaced Agyrol in the medical world.

pialikesowls's picture

Revisiting the Barnes

There was so much anticipation in my head when I went to the Barnes Foundation. I had wanted to go for a while, since my mother had told me about it, and how it housed pieces by some of my favorite artists: Seurat, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cézanne, and much more. Impressionism was one of my favorite eras of art, and I was going to take advantage of this trip into Philadelphia.

My mother had informed me that there was a period where Albert C. Barnes wouldn’t let anyone into the foundation. Countless amounts of people had written requests to Barnes, asking to visit, but many had been rejected. My mother may have also mentioned there was some controversy with the foundation, but I think she touched too lightly upon the subject for me to completely register and remember the facts. Therefore, I had walked into the Barnes partially the way Walker Percy had intended us to: without a lot of prior knowledge.

However, I had built the museum up in my head a lot. I do this a lot with other things, too. Sometimes I’ll say that someone absolutely has to watch a movie or read a book, and that it’s probably the best movie or book in existence. When this happens, people are usually disappointed. While I did build the Barnes Foundation up a lot in my head, I was not disappointed at all. I feel as if the difference this time was that I didn’t know what paintings would be in the foundation, and that I didn’t know how the foundation would be set up.

Clairity's picture

Today's final trip

After several changes of plans, I planned to go to see the Dream Garden in the curtis center and Washington Square around there, and also go to the "free" "PECO Family Jams: Recycled CD Ornaments" in the Magic Garden to make small ornaments today. My schedul was tight because my work ended at 12:30. Because the train got delayed, I decided to only go to the Magic Garden. It was apparent that I was the only one who showed up at the event. Even though the event was still on, I realized it was "free" with admission. So I left for the Dream Garden instead. On my way, I had this feeling that it might be closed and I forgot to check. And unfortunately, the security guard in the Curtis center told me it was closed for today.

Grace Zhou's picture


Originally, I planned to see the mural arts in the city, but it is so hard for me to walk a lot in the snows. I know there are some mural arts along the Broad street and I choose a way I nerver walked before. It is a surprise that truning around the corner, there it is! I never imagine that the new way is even easier and faster. It was so cold that I bought a pair of gloves on the way. I stared the mural art near the Macy's for about 3 minutes and I can't focus, so I escaped into Macy's. Luckily, I saw the light show in Macy's. I can feel the enthusiasm people show to Christmas, but to be honest, I am not attracted to it but I still feel happy. I recognized that on the way to Anne's house, I just rushed across the street and just passed by some mural arts. I felt sorry to those mural arts that people just pass by them and it seems that they are not important. Also, because of the gloves, I can't type on my phones. And since I don't have internet on my Iphone and the map on Blackberry is not good, I check the information on blackberry and navigate the way on iphone; at the same time, I need to carry my camera and protect it from the snow! So I took off my gloves manytimes and catch two phones, one camera, and even one cup which has a leaking cap and rushed in a snow day!

Anne Dalke's picture

Here we are, after our snowy trip in!

(the first picture is the view out my window, as I was waiting for your arrival,
and the last one is the same view, after the snow had stopped...)

Mindy Lu's picture

My trip today

Today is cold and snows heavily. I went to Barne's Museum in the afternoon. When I arrived at the museum, I was tired and upset because of the bad weather. However, the museum inside was pretty warm, which delight me a lot. Everyone has been there, thus I think I do not need to describ more. I enjoyed the artworks and found interest during the 30-minutes observation.

Anne Dalke's picture

if you didn't get a chance

...during our go-round, after dim sum, @ my home this evening, to report on the time you spend on your own, during your final jaunt in the city for the semester, please do so here-and-now--with images, if you have them. thanks!

Everglade's picture

North Philly

(I thought we were going to write a paper about this so I didn't wrote everything I wanted to say. So I added something later. )

The mural surprised me. I expected it to be color blocks and white letters according to the photos, but it was more than that. There were portraits on the color blocks and scribbles of very hopeful words on the letters. Comfort. Voice. Inspired. Dreaming. Attitude. Love. Soul. We believe life. I thought the letters should be completely white in order to shine and be seen from afar, but in fact they are filled with scribbles. I guess things don't have to be impeccable to be brilliant. 

The area can't be called aesthetically beautiful. It is run-down and imperfect indeed. But exactly because of that, it has potential for improvement. It has hope. 

The weren't much people on the street and all the stores were closed except Chinese restaurants, so I was having a hard time looking for a souvenir. Then I saw a girl's abandoned boot on the ground, bright pink in the white snow. I thought it might be a good representation of that area but picking it up and taking it all the way seems really creepy. So I just took these photos of different other murals.  

Cathy Zhou's picture

final trip

I want to take septa to Surburban station and go to Franklin Square(the Love Square),that's a tourist attraction I've never been to. I would also spend time in the neighbourhood, just to walk around and see what's in there.