Abstract - An Aesthetics of Play - or, How to Appreciate Interactive Fun

Moving towards an understanding of interactive fun, I posit the inclination towards a "cut and paste principle", or what can also be thought of as ‘hacking’, as a component in the "aesthetics of play", that is, the pleasures of pattern finding, problem solving and imitation by both creators and receivers. This aesthetic urge towards play has been underestimated throughout art history, lost in issues surrounding decoration, the canon, quality, and the Romantic emphases on genius, originality and the "shock of the new". Then as now, a deeply ingrained and market driven system of entitlement benefits arbiters of entertainment and "taste", while tending to co-opt and homogenize everyday household productions and practices, even as they resist co-option. What is vital about the "cut and paste/hacking" mode is how it anticipates or recapitulates what we like about "fun", combining known and unknown forms in a dynamic tension which allows us to feel both comfortable, yet surprised. I propose to draw briefly on current and historical examples to demonstrate that such overlooked everyday play or pleasures, more often than not by women and more often than not utilizing modular elements which are re-combined into complex productions, frequently mark the emergence of an important technology.