At debate at this years CounterPlay festival I was confronted by a question I had never thought of asking before. Even though our modern times seem to demand it of us on a daily basis. On our phones, at factories, on labs and libraries, all over the world, the robot is no longer a word reserved for the far off worlds of Science Fiction, the future is now, and the robots? They have come to stay.

So what do we do – us the human beings? Some of us may already have been replaced, while others might be staring down the barrel at the electronic intern. So let’s take a ride down worst-case scenario; if the robots are here not only to makes things easier, but actually end up taking over our jobs, what are our options?

In a society that reflects a strong focus on the natural sciences and technology, it can be hard to spot what other possibilities the future beholds, but is play, creativity and the arts not the right place to go for answers? Is art not what sets us apart from each other, from the robot, from the cool, calm and collected science?

True, this vision is not only dull, but might even seem like an unrealistic dystopia. But I believe the thought is worth exploring, for reflection and sheer curiosity if nothing else.

To downplay the arts, to devote your-self to the endless roll of work schedules, payday and calculated free time, is that not the road to stress? Play however has become a term only applied to the past-time of children, and that is where we at CounterPlay propose to start. The language of play is not as well founded as the language of learning. Often play is set into and perceived through the context of learning. It has to occupy a profitable purpose, teach the children something, a tendency that quite frankly complicates the argument of play.

But why should we even have to argue to play? Play is meant to set us free, free of everyday life, of the norms of civilized society, of the roles of parents, co-workers, mother, brother, sister, teacher and child. That all may sound well and good to you, but how do you do it?

There is no doubt that to introduce play as play, and play for play’s sake in our modern society is a hard task to undertake, but nonetheless this cause is much too important for us and, I will argue, for YOU! We need to start emphasizing the arts, not dismiss them as unnecessary, silly and a waste of time. We need to recognize the way in which creativity expands our mind, thoughts, feelings and worldview, and thus expand and create our future.

I can only end my thoughts on one end, to encourage you to challenge your ways, break the rules and expand your mind.

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Olivia Pallesen


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