“Shifting Sand Land” Super Mario Brothers Playscape, Bobby Zokaites, Scottsdale Arizona, 2015

Thanks to Arizona based artist Bobby Zokaites for submitting his “Shifting Sand Land”, a playground game system based upon the desert level in Super Mario Brothers.   I love a well-designed overlap between virtual and physical play space for its ability to encourage video game lovers to venture into the playground.  In effect, “Shifting Sand Land” is an all-ages, outdoor version of “Can’t Touch the Ground”, a classic playground game.

“Many Artists pursue work as a challenge to or a critique of culture, in order throw the viewer “off balance,” Shifting Sand Land does just that…the game is designed as a series of small platforms with hemispherical foundations;  “islands” that will constantly change a person’s center of gravity and  keep the participants on their toes.  Each module is constructed with a hemispherical steel shell, filled with water. This water acts as a counterweight slowing down the movement of the “island”. Attached to the shell is a wooden deck and an upholstered bumper, this bumper makes sure no one scrapes a shin or bumps a knee; combining the weight of the water and the geometry of the bumper make these “islands” stable so that they cannot be unintentionally flipped over. The overall composition includes 25 modules ranging in scale from eighteen inches to six feet. These larger “islands” will allow several people to interact with each other, sort of like those old 4 person seesaws, creating a more dynamic form of play.”

Bobby says that his work, which combines childhood adventure with construction and assembly methods inspired by industrial processes, is inspired by this great quote from one of our play heroes, Richard Dattner (download his book from the sidebar!), who says that playgrounds exist  “Between the world of fantasy and the world of reality, between the world of intuition and the world of logical things, and between the world of solitary play and the world of social cooperation and mutual understanding.”


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