Within the framework of the P-Public 2013 festival, with the theme “Public space in evolution”, two play settings are proposed, which aim at developing experiential experiences in public space and initiating wandering walks through the fabric of the Old Town of Chania. These settings initially seek to cause surprise, the unexpected in the passer-by, the stimulus for the discovery of a different environment, his participation in the proposed activity, with the ultimate aim of diverting him from the initial route and creating a new path and wandering in the labyrinthine fabric of the Old Town. The interruption of his prescribed course, even if it is momentary, as well as his participation in the installed game, tends to release him from the spatial and temporal limits of his routine, creating a new situation in the public space.

Two points in the fabric of the Old Town are the starting point for this wandering, through two ephemeral installations that combine games of mimicry, vertigo, competition and chance (mimicry-ilinx-agôn-alea, as defined by Roger Caillois). At the starting point of the installations, a curtain invites the pedestrian to search, through surprise and wonder as to what lies behind. At the same time, it defines a space for scenario play development, as the pedestrian player can interact with the elements of the curtain based on his or her own scenario. Installation A, Dizzy tree, consists of a curtain of densely arranged ribbons, which defines the entrance to the interior of the web, but at the same time it is an unexpected image of the street. If the passer-by chooses to pass through to the interior, this path leads to a small square with a tree, on which a wooden swing has been placed, where he can watch or even participate in an energetic individual game of vertigo, leaving behind his originally prescribed path. Installation B, Bet on!, consists of a curtain of balloons, which have grains of different sizes inside them, creating a different timbre when the passerby passes or moves them voluntarily. Similarly, there follows an active competition-speed game, which can be either individual or team, in which the player can compose a path of wooden pallets in various formations according to the degree of difficulty that he alone or with his opponent will set. The termination of these installations ends at hubs in the web, where the person now plays a game of chance, choosing the exit route or the beginning of a new wandering.

These installations come to awaken us as pedestrians to the way in which we should experience public space and become part of it. Participating in the proposed playful activities or even simply observing them, leads to the creation of a new adventure-situation in public space, and comes to shake us up about how an everyday route, a simple passage, can hide spatial and temporal surprises.

collage of photographic material by Rodney Smith