Cross-Gen: Play & Iyashikei (2024)

Completed during the SVA Summer Artist Residency Program in Fine Arts: Contemporary Practices, May 28 to June 26 (New York, N.Y.)

Cross-Gen: Play & Iyashikei
is an assemblage of real and virtual spaces, as well as old, new and found objects – each one tied to a specific memory, dream, comfort and trauma associated with “play.” 

I returned to video games in 2019 after a 12-year period without play. My re-discovery of video games during the pandemic provided my partner and I with an unexpected refuge. These interactive, virtual worlds became the source of our most tangible comforts. In many ways, they saved us. But for me, this refuge was corrupted by an unshakeable sense of shame and embarrassment that was present each and every time I played.

This shame propelled me into a mode of research that focused on video game history, culture and the effects games have on our health and well-being. It was also a catalyst for me to untangle my complicated history and relationship with “play.” This work can be viewed as a reaction to the branching questions that arose during this period:

As young children how did we use play, space and imagination to feel safe?

As teens how did play impact our vision of the future? How did play become redefined as we shifted into adulthood?

And as adults, what do we sacrifice play for? Why is play often viewed as being diametrically opposed to the image of a “responsible” and “productive” adult?

As we continue to grapple with the assortment of toxicities encouraged by social media, there is one question that feels particularly urgent to me. How can we create and encourage healthy forms of interaction, play, learning and self-discovery for our children, but also for ourselves?