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"Play" in the city

Grace Zhou's picture

    I used to think that a city is a friend who I am so familiar with, but when I play in a city, as a bystander and explorer, I find that the city is more like a stranger to the civilians who “seem” to connect with it tightly. In fact, they are never bothered by the “serendipity”, because they actually only care the information benefits and interests them and neglect the surroundings automatically.

    People tend to ignore the “city” they live in. The whole environment is a stranger to them, as I suppose, cause they don’t care and never pay any attention to the surroundings.  For me, large amount of homeless beside the free library shock me. They randomly walked along the streets, shouting loudly and occupying large amount of park. The ambulance’s bell keeps turning around beside my ears. I feel depressed when seeing this mess picture. However, under the park is a tunnel with countless automobiles rushing across. It’s an image with large contrast. The people under the ground may lead organized lives; they dream their dreams and work with purpose. But I believe, large amount of them never care about the world in the park. The city is only a place helps them to get jobs and salaries, a place only consists office and home. On the other side, many tourists on the touring bus curiously watching around and carelessly listen to the narrators. I wonder what they are thinking about when sitting on the bus and taking the photos automatically. They don’t care, either. So, there is funny performance with careless homeless, careless civilians and careless tourists. They live in their own world, in their own city, leaving me alone, a bystander, who pays attention to this city.

    So, who am I to the city? Maybe the answer is: I play in the city. The definition of “play” changes in this journey too. Playing is not only an attitude gives people pleasure and joy anymore, but also a process of curious learning and serious reflection.

    I played in the Moore College of Art& Design at first. I never thought the exhibition is a place to play before,for it’s not amusing enough. However, as I walked in to the college, many creative works started to interest me. There was one collage with a magic mirror surrounded by numerous funny portraits. When I watched this art, I watched myself. I found myself play comfortably in this place. The artist didn’t treat this work as a task required by the professor, but a trick she wanted to play. By playing, the artist combines various people from various times to one piece of art. By playing, I built a relationship with the artwork and the whole space. Playing is a creative learning to dig out the limitless possibilities.

    I also went to the Whole Foods market where inspired me a lot. I can feel,different from other civilians,I was playing in the market. I was curious about everything. The colorful fresh fruits, numerous brands of chocolate, even the various kinds of flowers made me exited. However, other people in the market just took out the list, head to the stuffs and bought them quickly. There was no expression or any emotion on their face. I thought maybe they never thought they could play in this place. I started to concern. Maybe just like them, I never reflected the world around me, where I can play and enjoy all the time. I started feel and think seriously while playing!  

I recall a work I watched today in the exhibition- numbers of painted tubes on the flat wall with some true tunnel reaching outside the “painting”. The city needs the plays and care. Normal lives and personalized information in the city are the tubes on the placid wall, ignoring the whole surroundings. Colorful playing and some extent of serendipity are the solid tunnels, asking people to watch the city, to reflect and to feel the three-dimensional world with different senses. A city becomes a stranger to the civilians, but a piece of art to the explorers and players. If all the people stop playing and lead mediocre lives, if everything is so “personalized” and the so-called “serendipity” disappear, if people only get the information that they interested in, there will be no curious, courageous and dynamic city anymore. So, as it said in “Much for serendipity in Personalized News”, “serendipity is highly desirable”;people become narrow-minded and indifferent without serendipity (1).

The cities like New York are still very vibrant now maybe because of the large number of players and explorers. Civilians are too occupied by their own work; tourists are only passer-by. Luckily, there are people who play in the city, who learn and reflect during playing. People need serendipity to care the things even has no connection with them in appearance, and the city needs the serendipity to survive colorfully and diversely.


Works Cited

Sunstein, Cass. “So Much for Serendipity in Personalized News.” Bloomberg, 12 Aug. 2013.