How To Play Risk

Following on my thoughts here: if the condition of the everyday is a banal and predictable world where nonetheless you are liable to be run over or shot, the just world is one where you can see danger.

A landscape of risk – a via ferrata, an obstacle course – at once acknowledges the human contours of risk and pushes against them, changing the parameters of what is accessible. It dictates the frames through which overwhelming environments are broken into separate scenes of challenge. It plays with the envelope of immersion, at times focusing you to a rail under your fingers, and at times to a scene stretching to the very edges of your cone of vision.

Spaces of risk are spaces of affordance – they indicate the parameters of the challenge. In the literature, affordance is a quality that sticks to landscapes-for; it is a concept applied mostly to children’s spaces because, even when made natural, these are seen as spaces-for, as agricultural fields for people, as virtual cabbage patches. This technical imperative is not necessary; as with the old vogue for parkour, you can formulate a series of doing-withs in the landscape. Do you know a sort of envy for roofers and arborists? For people who can essentially walk up a 90 degree slope? I don’t mean just for a thrill, though – I mean to do different things with the same givens.

That is: instead of pointing to a set goal, that would prove you had a accomplished an assigned task, a landscape of risk could as easily be set to multiply physical and mental affordances as far as possible, to generate new challenges within its boundaries. Give over the set of American Ninja Warrior to the spirit of Cedric Price; see what is born inside.

(December 2017)