Jonathan van der Stel
In this short project we decided to use children as a channel to identify affordances that are left out by codification. It seemed to us that the Venice Biennale presents itself to the visitors as an extremely codified environment. Each pavilion represents a separate country and the visitor tends to follow a specific route in order to manage to visit all the “countries”. However this kind of codification is not recognized by children. Therefore, in order to suggest other possible ways to experience the Biennale apart from codification, we chose to provide a “guided tour” of the Biennale via the experience of a child.
We could in fact recognize cases in which children or young adults decoded new sets of affordances. In the first set of images we want to show the interaction with the coding offered by a group of students creating their own spot to rest at the US Pavilion. In the Denmark Pavilion they neglected the sign “Do not touch” while they immediately imposed to get some of the papers given away. Finally, on the last image two bags are shown lying outside the Greenland pavilion. It seemed to us as if a new affordance was created. It seemed that nobody else could leave their bags in such a spot, either due to importance, or due to the fact that it was the entrance of the pavilion. However, the children recognized an affordance not thought by an adult.
On the second set we look at those spaces which provided for the a pre-defined conception of what something is or can be for those who look at them through the rules of codification. However here we want to reject this pre-established and limited set of possibilities and show that adults could still “act as children”, trying to find different affordances. The game became really exciting as we found out that the sculpture at the Arsenale offered an alternative route to the site but also a spot to relax and enjoy the view. At the Swiss pavilion, one can sit on the chairs and experience the space, or one can re-enact a whole series of different occurrences, such as laying down and pondering at the drawn facades.
Finally, on the British pavilion one can consider the spaces as hiding spots, or even opportunities to relax, however due to weight restrictions we decided not to endanger that.
Overall, it became interesting to recognize affordances within a space that is so highly codified. In a way, we tried to find a “common ground” between the unmediated child’s approach and the adult’s coded one. That “common ground”, we might conclude, is the infinite set of affordances which both children and adults can discover through experience.