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, or arborists? For peo­ple who can jump up a 1000% slope like they were moun­tain goats? 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)