Welcome to the Department of Play, where we will dwell on ‘The Unfolding Arch of Forging Fantasy’. As you know, play is an activity, outside of ordinary daily activities, in which one or more humans (and even non-humans) can participate, as entertainment or ritual, with often an uncertain outcome.
In his designs, the graphic designer can form an inviting magical circle that you want to step into to participate, to think along and join the discussion about issues of all kinds. In this section of The Palace of Typographic Masonry, the designers’ ability to titillate and manipulate the viewer’s perceptions and responses seamlessly flows into his or her engagement in a form of living culture – regardless of how serious this game’s stakes are.
Let's take a look at "The Unfolding Arch of Forging Fantasy." This is inspired by the book "The Grammar of Fantasy" (1973) by Gianni Rodari, an Italian writer and journalist, best known for his children's books. He argues that stories lie precisely in the connections between objects or concepts that belong to completely different worlds, and seemingly have nothing to do with each other. He therefore calls for being adventurous and finding connections in apparently absurd combinations. To use experience, memory, fantasy and the unconscious to cause unexpected, associative chain reactions. “Reality can be entered through the main door, or it can be slipped into through a window, which is much more fun”
According to Rodari, schools have traditionally degraded the imagination, which means that memory and ‘unshakable’ knowledge can be valued much higher. After all, children are being prepared to take a place in a fully measurable and inescapably preprogrammed world in which we no longer have to imagine. As Naomi Klein put it in a recent interview, "Perhaps one of the most significant effects of the neoliberal era is the current lack of imagination, creating the idea that the status quo is inevitable - the same thing Margaret Thatcher wanted to achieve with her slogan ‘There is no alternative!'.”
In Japan, folding fans are seen as auspicious objects that symbolize happiness, as they expand when opened, unfolding the future possibilities. In "The Unfolding Arch of Forging Fantasy" a surprising collection has been brought together. These are objects from different worlds, because what do codes, fans and theater have in common? More than you think: this story begins with the connections between the ceremonial fans and the coded signals, between the masked game and the portable status markers and between the language of the pattern and the moving alphabets, the fans as canvas and the inviting stock characters.
These are all instruments of a fantastic orchestra that only needs a signal to start playing together. "Play brings," said Johan Huizinga in Homo Ludens (1938), “into an imperfect world, into the confusion of life, a temporary, limited perfection." In the space of this interplay, the associative chain reactions begin from which alternatives to the status quo can arise. This is in sharp contrast to what Huizinga calls 'cheating', a childishness that with 'the easily satisfied but never saturated need for banal scattering, the longing for gross sensation and the desire for mass display' actually leads to social rigidity. We recognize this cheating all too well in the current inflexibility in areas of public opinion. We miss the "lucidity" as a necessary condition for the production of culture.
Therefore "The Unfolding Arch of Forging Fantasy" is a plea to design the conditions for playing together, and to give the idealized seriousness of the ritual, imagination and play a sustainable place within our society. With the 36 objects and concepts collected here, The Palace of Typographic Masonry hopes to ignite the fire of imagination that has not yet been extinguished: the inviting magic circle is a value for survival.