W A L L S
created by Kate Spacek and eve Warnock
WALLS, a project of HERD, uses modular set design, large-scale interactive installations, and contemporary performance to forge connections across diverse communities, rethink space and human flow within space, and catalyze play as the building blocks for social innovation. The project is based on research of animal herding behaviors and corralling systems, urban planning and design, and fundamental psychology of interpersonal interactions and co-creation. WALLS has been and continues to be a multi-phase, scenario-driven experimental approach to revealing findings that further the work.
WALLS requires a large open space (e.g., public market, warehouse, convention center, festival tent, black box theater, museum, or “dead zone” that could be brought to life with this piece), ideally 12m x 12m (40’x40’), at a minimum. Large, lightweight fabric walls of varying sizes hang from above, dropping almost to the ground, and can swivel 360 degrees. Level of transparency can vary, and some walls may have windows. Strong magnetic strips provide mechanism to attach and detach the walls to/from one another, creating a veritable life-size “construction play set” of spatial designs that can be changed quickly and easily, over and over again. Weatherproof materials and sturdy construction withstand the unknown impacts of spontaneous play. The modular design allows for the walls to act as dividers, intimacy-creators, set design elements, projection screens, and tools for social experiment.
WALLS is part performance, part interactive playground. A series of theatrical experiments can be incorporated to test predetermined hypotheses of human interaction and response. For instance, for a prior installation, we created a bisected, rectangular space that referenced both animal pens and small city apartments. Audience members reacted to choreographed shifts in spatial dimensions, lighting, window access, and sounds. The results of these performances add to our research and birth new curiosities to explore. We also facilitate workshop environments, using the installation to explore ideas of community-driven space-making in urban locales.
Outside of performances and workshops, the installation serves as a hands-on environment for creative play and community building. Adults and children alike can explore and redesign the spaces, playing for the sake of play, or see their own living and working spaces differently. Use of light, shadow, sound, sensors, and 3D projection mapping activates an otherworldly fantastical playground, triggering human desires to play with and move within the walls.
Play infiltrates every aspect of HERD and its projects. We use play researcher Dr. Stuart Brown’s defining characteristics of play as perpetual guidance for our work: Play (1) is voluntary, (2) is seemingly purposeless, (3) is fun, (4) creates a diminished sense of time, (5) allows the player freedom from self-consciousness, and (6) allows for spontaneity.
Play is a biological necessity, yet a largely untapped resource that facilitates openness, connectedness, innovation, and physical and mental well-being. Published research proves these benefits, but it has been our own primary experiences that confirm the significance of creating time and spaces for humans to playfully engage. HERD: WALLS rejuvenates wonder and whimsy while tapping into the freedoms of human interactions, movements, and collective imaginations.