In order for an intention of change to have a practical behavioral impact it needs to generate action that could be described as altruistic, which in the sense that PLAY refers to is as simple as considering the middle point when doing any kind of transaction, where everybody wins, without a predatory intention and gearing towards the well being of all parties involved.
To reach the altruistic position we first need to acknowledge others as of the same kind as ourselves, but this can be achieved only through a feeling, which serves as context for behavior; what we usually refer to as empathy, yet empathy can also be felt at the more basic perception level of reflecting emotion and not necessarily generate a thrive for well-being. PLAY refers to the later type as thought-based empathy.
Since behavior revolves around a process of identity, which gears towards status and is continuously fueled by the way the economy works, PLAY proposes an alternative path, which is based on thought. This path of thought runs opposite to the process of category based identity, were the individual endlessly reaches to be part of a tribe, brand, nationality, belief etc. which becomes a vicious cycle, loosing both individual and collective experiences in the process, as thought is superseded by emotion based biases.
In PLAY, the individual exists through its realization of the individual and collective experiences, through a virtuous cycle of thought that overcomes biases by breaking paradigms of behavior.
THE MUSEUM CONTEXT
In order to create an ethical behavioral framework, PLAY needs a platform where generations meet and science museums are the ideal space for this new type of experience.
Traditionally, a science museum’s mission is to foster interest in science and technology through didactic and stimulating environments. Yet, their attendance is dropping in a world dominated by high-budget entertainment and high-tech gadgets, which interactivity and high attendance economy overshadows the inventive but low budget museum experience, rapidly rendering it obsolete. But science museums have the only thing that no technology or budget can beat; the human factor.
Facilitators come from diverse backgrounds but share key qualities; a drive to learn new things and a natural ability to interact with people, specially children. Since they are neither teachers, who have to follow a curriculum or parents who are an authority figure to their children, facilitators become an intermediary between the child and adult world, allowing for both trust and respect form the audience. They are energetic, usually have a knack for drama, a good sense of humor and an intrinsic altruistic tendency since they are already interested in sharing what they value, which is knowledge.
It is through these young guides that a new experience can take shape, moving away from traditional interaction based on direct, rapid and tech-based sensory stimulus and towards an interactivity based on thought and emotion, transmitted by human beings instead of a machine and that can be experienced as a group.
Contrary to diverting the museum’s vocation for science, a social experience such as this, which includes science as a basis for understanding, promotes science in a refreshing way as it places it in a new context, so science becomes part of what shapes our behavior, from a philosophical perspective and beyond technology. PLAY’s installations function as metaphors to talk about intangibles such as emotion and thought, which cannot be exemplified with an experiment but that are nevertheless based on physical, biological and social phenomena, making them interesting aspects of the universe.
PLAY could be described as an art intervention for science museums. Yet it does not force an artistic discourse towards the audience, but rather adapts to the context; the facilitator, the family and informal education. Most travelling exhibits are created by teams, this rare author experience offers something new, as an individual effort to make the world better, which the audience appreciates as a an altruistic gesture.
PLAY is also a scientific experiment since the resulting effect on the audience is quantified and qualified through a measurement instrument. The results prove that in fact, an intention of change can be provoked.