A few samples of writings

Deniz Altındağ

Playtime of the City (A sample text for a collaborated graphic novel project )

I always thought of the play as something MAGICAL and UNKNOWN.

For some, it's childish nonsense of little importance,

For others, it's a pretty serious thing worth working on for years.

For me,

the play is a secret power,

both absurd and serious,

oscillating between these two extremes.

Perhaps the one thing most people agree on is that it's something STRANGE but also CREATIVE!

This character, which evokes its quirkiness and absurdity, has kept many people from saying anything about it for a long time.

Maybe that's why we cannot see any academic studies until the middle of the 20th century.

Talking about the play can plunge you into something both speculative and ridiculous.

Even while defining it at the very beginning, you may find yourself in a BIG MESS.

Because the play is something very COMPREHENSIVE…

Rest assured it is very-very-very comprehensive.

What we call play is as broad and ambiguous as what we call CULTURE.

What do we call culture?

Actually everything…

Yes, we can define many things as culture.

Well, have you ever thought about WHAT CREATES CULTURE?

According to Johan Huizinga,

who made the first known theoretical study about the play (Homo Ludens),

culture develops within the play…

In other words, games create a kind of culture.

Play is a concept that we encounter in all areas of cultural life.

(order, law, trade, art, craft, wisdom, poetry, science...)

So, the play affects lots of things…

This creative effect of the play on life is still being tried to be understood by many disciplines.

Architecture is just one of them…

Because to create a game, first of all, a PLACE is needed.

This description of the place has been used since ancient times.

In fact, we might think that the world is a PLAYGROUND in itself.

Just as Shakespeare and even earlier Plato said.

The world's a STAGE and we are all PLAYERS.

This line sounds familiar, right?

But is it really possible to design a space where ALL PEOPLE ARE PLAYERS?

In fact, it has already been designed…

In this book, I will try to explain what kind of cities we might be living in,

when play enters the discipline of architecture.

I will show some URBAN PROJECTS which might be called POTENTIAL PLAYGROUNDS.

These playful utopias question

the concepts of "leisure time" and "entertainment" from a new perspective.

I guess now the play is starting to sound more serious.

If you are willing,

Let's take a closer look at this creativity and weirdness…

We can start with the PLAY THEORIES!


The Theories of Play

Why does the play exist? or Why do people play?

This is one of the most fundamental questions that game theories try to answer…

You don't think there is only one answer to this question, do you?

Honestly, there are so many of them…

Before we get lost in these answers,

I want to tell you about 2 basic theories.

The first of these is the theory of EXCESS!

According to this theory, play is the actions taken to get rid of excess life energy.

The playground creates a SAFE PLACE to release this energy.

Makes sense, right?

Well, according to the Functionalist theory,

play is the way to prepare for FUTURE ACTIVITIES!

In a play, people and animals rehearse their daily movements

and prepare for the serious activities that life will demand.

Like we all did as children…

Now, let's look at an intriguing view that many theories have in common:

Play is also an INNOCENT way of getting rid of HARMFUL tendencies…

Desires that cannot be satisfied in real life are resolved through fiction with the game.

Thus, the sense of self is preserved.

Huizinga says in his famous book "Homo Ludens":

These definitions are not wrong or incomplete,

but they lack DEPTH!

Definitions with "measurements of experimental science"

miss the ESSENTIAL MEANING of the game.

Play, even in its simplest form, is MORE than a physiological response.

It is a surprisingly poetic answer, right?

The question still remains: What is the FUN PART of the game?

According to Huizinga, the main meaning of play lies in its origin,

its intensity,

its power to provoke.

Nature could have chosen to get this energy in more MECHANICAL WAYS.

But nature has given the play with EXCITEMENT and JOY!

And that makes things pretty interesting…

We can see one of the best examples of this situation at FESTIVALS!

In festivals,

many types of play can be observed at the same time.

The person who participates as an actor or spectator becomes a part of the flow.

And it is a very enthusiastic flow… it can take the participants to ANOTHER UNIVERSE…

And as long as something takes the participants to another universe,

it's really a GAME, isn't it?

In fact, there is a great example of this in Bruegel's De Kinderspelen (Children's Games).

This painting shows 80 different children's games!

Here, Bruegel allows ADULTS to play in the town square like CHILDREN.

Everyone acts differently here than in daily life…

Maybe because they are no longer in the universe of everyday life…

Due to the rules and seriousness of daily life, actions that people would not be willing to do APPEAR during the FESTIVAL!

Getting rid of mandatory responsibilities…

Move freely…

Discovering creative actions…

Having a real experience…

Just like we have when playing games…

We could have come across such an image in our daily life in earlier times.

We can see this especially in PRE-MODERN SOCIETIES…

At that time, play was a common feature of rituals in everyday life.

In these rituals, human societies express ways of interpreting life with games.

According to this understanding, culture develops in a play environment.

Play has an important role in the formation of both CULTURE and SELF-IDENTITY.

According to Winnicott,

play is a field of creation, and here, people first create their own identity.

People can use their whole personality in the game and thus become aware of themselves.

A person can only discover herself/himself when she/he is CREATIVE.

As a final thing, I would like to bring up the topic of EXPERIENCE…

The game is also where the real experience happens.

While playing games,

people discover how to do something,

to be creative, and thus have their own real experience.

According to Agamben,

the biggest problem of modern humans is the ABSENCE of REAL EXPERIENCE.

Modern humans go home exhausted and exhausted from many events,

but she/he cannot turn any of these events into experiences (Agamben, 2010).

Routine daily existences in big cities blunt human experience.

Therefore, Agamben argues that in order to create a theory of experience,

the CHILDHOOD PERIOD should be examined first.

Time flies by quickly in childhood…

As in the Pinocchio story,

all weeks consist of six Thursdays and a Sunday,

the autumn holiday starts in January and ends at the end of December (Agamben, 2010).

This is because the child is immersed in the game and isolated from "REAL TIME".

The child, who does not carry the burden of a limited time,

plays in another time

and thus has the real experience.

So far we've taken a look at the contents of some of the key theories about the play.

However, that's not all to say about the game, of course.

This is a very long journey…

Maybe it will never end...

New theories will keep coming…

Older theories: surplus energy, preparation-imitation, relaxation

More recent theories: catharsis, behaviouristic, psychoanalytic

Contemporary theories: arousal-seeking, competence-effectance…

I want to leave the game theories here and move on to some CHARACTERISTICS of the game...

There may be something of interest here…

We can talk about 6 basic characteristics of the game: (Caillois, 2001)

1.Free: not an obligation

2. Reserved: defined space and time limits

3. Uncertain: action and outcome cannot predicted

4. Unproductive: creates neither goods nor wealth

5. Regulated: An action based on its own laws

6. Imaginary (as if): an alternative reality against real life

We finally found something tangible about the play…

I guess…

Now, we can tell if something is playful by checking these properties, right?

Well, maybe…

We still don't have a clear answer, do we?

Yeees, some of us can remember these characteristics of the game.

What about those who can't?

I have a small suggestion for them.

They can also keep in mind the two most basic concepts of the game.


A thing can be called a play only if it allows these concepts.

Person 1: But is it the same for the city?

There are actually some examples for this… Oh right, we haven't moved on to them yet… (I was going to talk about playful cities… I haven't told anything about the place for how many pages yet.)

Person 2: So a space is playful if it allows for real experience and creative activity, right?

Yes, it would not be wrong to say that…

Person 3: So how does the city allow for creative activities?

Person 4: What does the creative city mean?

Creativity, city, game, experience, Huizinga, free time, uncertain, regulated….

Abstract concepts are circulating in everyone's minds...

Just a second…

Let me think…

Wait a little…

Well, it's best to explain this situation with examples then.

Yes, the easiest way to learn is by SAMPLING…


I think it will be good to look at sample designs while thinking about these abstract concepts over a city…

So let's get started…

What does a playful space look like?


Playful Urban Projects

Let's think about play and the city together…

Do they seem related to each other?

I know, Nooot so much at first glance.

In fact, serious consideration of these two coincides with the second half of the 20th century.

Especially in the utopian projects that emerged after the Second World War,

we can come across playful city depictions.

The basic motto of these projects is that:

PLAY should be given MORE SPACE in the city anymore…

But how?

They suggest playful arrangements that allow creative actions in daily life.

Everyday life and playful arrangements…


There is a famous declaration: "New Games"

Jacque Fillon's (1954) "New Games" declaration is an interesting starting point!

Here, Fillon touches on two key concepts about urban design:

Entertainment and leisure.

"Free time is a completely serious thing.

We will remind you that the task is to invent new games"

After that courageous saying,

Everyone who gave a damn to PLAY started to take action…

And lots of projects were born…

"New Games" declaration is like a BOMB with a pin pulled…

New Babylon

One of the most famous names to do this is the Situationalist.

Situationist International,

one of the well-known groups that was inspired by the power of "LEISURE".

They blend the philosophies of Marxism and Avant-garde with Imagination and Creativity.

"The Situationist Definitions"(1958) offers a HOLISTIC URBAN DESIGN!

which eliminates the separation of work and leisure.

while describing a new form of SOCIETY…

Everyone is invited to plan this holistic city…

Yes, you heard right EVERYONE!…

This urban design is open to all creative personalities,

not just architects, urban planners or artists.

Famous actors of the Situationalist are Constant Nieuwenhuys and Guy Debord!

Maybe you have already heard these names. Now, they are still pretty famous…

In this declaration, Constant talked about a mysterious project…

New Babylon…

I know… Sounds really intriguing!

Let's go inside…

Here, people recreate their environment each time according to new needs.

Yeees, it is true information…

In this project, creative actions are the focus of the design.

The production system has been automated


It is a utopian project, don't forget that!

So, just think that people are freed from all ties that would limit themselves.

Now, all time is "FREE TIME".

And now people can turn to play and creative actions.

New Babylon has dynamic and unlimited spaces.

Constant calls it as a DYNAMIC LABYRINTH!

The SPACE can grow and develop in every way.

Boundaries are variable.

That is, we can imagine an unlimited space that can evolve in ALL DIRECTIONS.

The places are constantly changing here.

Remember the LEGO pieces...

Not only in terms of decoration,

but also the structural elements of the space (walls, spaces, surfaces) can change.

Sooooo, repetition and habit disappear, and discovery is always alive.

Therefore, Constant describes the new people of New Babylon as "nomads".

Can you really imagine a space like that?

These all look a bit abstract, right?

But, there are some project drawings…

So, Constant really designed a space like that…

At least, on the paper…


Archigram is really famous with its game-oriented city designs.

The group is like a popular rock band consisting of many in and out members between 1961-1974.

But David Green and Peter Cook were always there…

Even when they got older they continued to be on stage.

Like many brave musicians…

Before the urban projects, they produced own hand-made magazines.

These collage looking magazines made quite a splash!

Here, they criticize the elitist attitude and hierarchical order of MODERN ARCHITECTURE.

In order to PROTEST,


Archigram had a powerful philosophy about new cities.

They advocate that people must have more free time to play!

So, in their utopian projects, they made the production automatic…

They use technology extensively in their projects to save people from compulsive actions.

Just like in Constant's New Babylon…

You see, every utopian is dealing with TIME.


Before digging deeper, I want to give some clues about their works.

If anyone mentions about their cities,

Just keep in mind these 3 words…

Individual choice, Participation and Technology.

Archigram's first projects are mega-city designs based on entertainment and disorder.

The most well-known one is Plug in City, designed by Peter Cook.

Here, spatial units are formed according to the individual's wishes.

So, people can participate in the design at every stage.

This situation drags the citizens into creative actions as in New Babylon.

Although Plug in City is a megastructure,

it allows a flexible formation thanks to its dynamic spaces.

If a space is dynamic, it can be attached to each other later.

Don't forget that!

After a while, Archigram gives up these mega-structural fantastic city depictions.

What it is now interested in / is the IMMIGRANT individual of the city.

In a galaxy far, far away from now…

They are really interested in migration!

They design houses which can be integrated into each other and can establish themselves anywhere.

If you remember, Constant also mentioned this immigrant individual.

They have a lot in common, right!

Hope they meet each other somewhere…

Being a nomad is probably one of the common elements in these playful city projects...

Archigram's nomadic dwelling units consist only of mechanical parts large enough to allow for personal needs...

Does this situation remind you of something?

A self-sufficient, minimal and mobile home at any time…


Like portable tiny houses and caravans…

Or in a minor scale, backpages of digital nomads…

I guess, they all come from such a playful lifestyle…

Let's take a closer look at how archigram produces projects for these nomadic urbanites.

The first of these projects is Living-Pod, designed by David Greene in 1965.

The Living-Pod is a free-roaming exploration-focused housing unit.

A mobile home that doesn't have roots in the ground.

David Greene describes this project as a CARAVAN HOUSE that can go anywhere freely.

According to Greene,

housing is a device that people carry with them,

and the city is a machine to be plugged in (Greene, 1966).

Maybe if you want to see more such examples, you can also look at projects

like Drive-in Housing, Cushicle, Suitaloon.

These projects are all small-scale nomadic housing units.

I think Archigram really likes this NOMADIC CONCEPT!

Has this interest taken it further?

Well, what if all of us, all the citizens of the city were nomadic,

then what kind of city image would emerge…

Well, hold on tight…

Archigram even dreamed of this…

"Instant City" as a nomadic city…

Yes, the whole city is bustling, nomadic and taking off…

Instant City, with its balloons that can be taken off at any moment,

serves all urban "immigrant" individuals.

Taking off with these balloony houses might be so cool!

I have always known that they will use the BALLOONS for more SERIOUS things…

Fun Palace

A living organism...

Here is a concept…

Architecture and cities often evoke inanimate things…

But what does it mean for a building to be alive?

Fun Palace is called "a living organism"...

And it's considered a representation of FUN ACTIVISM…

Cedric Price and Joan Littlewood designed a real HIDDEN GEM in 1962.

Let's see what kind of features this playful place has...

Fun palace consists of experimental spatial setups that bring together many different actions…

Let me first say this:

This place is always ALIVE!

So here the fun continues for 24 hours without interruption…

Spaces with different functions such as museums, theaters, fairs and universities have a holistic "space" in which they can build themselves at different times.

Fun Palace has mobile modules, dynamic spaces, boxes attached to beams and cranes.

Playful projects all have similar features.

You realized that too, right?

Because imagination and technology are intertwined here as well.

Flexible spaces and structures attached to the façade liberate the space.

And it triggers the element of CURIOSITY…

In Fun Palace, elements such as stairs, elevators, electronic and mechanical installations

are placed in service towers,

thus creating an "EMPTY" space that can turn into anything at any time.

Now, we have a huge empty space to CREATE ANYTHING!

Well, Let's play with stairs, walls and platforms then…

Because, These building tools can be changed by the user.

So, this way, the design allows for new spatial possibilities…

And all these features give Fun Palace its playful character…

With this playful character, It is becoming a building that has made a NAME for itself.

a pretty UNIQUE name!


Well, I guess that's all for now!

Of course, we could talk a hundred more pages about playful spaces,

but that would get a little BORING, wouldn't it?

It wouldn't fit the game philosophy at all.

So, let's leave it in a fun place then…

As a last friendly goodbye thing, I have a question for you…

Now, would you consider the city you live in as playful?

If so,

How playful is this city?

Or which parts of the city are in play and which parts are out of play?

Is it really possible to design playful cities like these architectural projects today?

Ohh. STOP!

Wait a little…

That's too many questions!

I can hardly answer for the first one.

Don't worry!

I am not sure about my answers either…

Maybe there are other people like me.

Perhaps these playful city projects are still utopian for today's people...

None of these projects were actually built.

They only remained on paper. But its effects have reached so far…

The common points of all these playful utopian city projects are;

obscure spaces that keep the discovery factor alive

open to use in different ways,

changeable and designed with different parameters according to the user

centering free and creative actions

and participant-oriented designs…

Maybe we consider some of these elements in designs today,

but some aspects are still too radical and some aspects are already outdated…

Finally, I would like to remind you of one more common point...

Maybe some of you will remember….

They all want to automate production, right?

Well, Why?

I guess when production becomes automated, our time is left to us…

And then maybe we could start really playing...

A very childish ideal perhaps…

But this is the part that impresses me the most…

That's why these projects dream of a SOCIAL ORDER far beyond being an architectural project.

The main focus of these projects is perhaps just time…

Look at what they say in unison: Come on, it's PLAY TIME...

Maybe as we organize or perceive time in a more playful way,

the city starts to spontaneously play…

The Layers of Memory in the works of Shaun Tan (A conference presentation text for Graphic Brighton 2022, Comics by and for Young People, University of Brighton, UK)

Memory... Images and storytelling...

Today I will talk about the layers of memory in Shaun Tan's stories. And, more generally, I will touch on how the thing we call memory relates to images in storytelling.

First of all, I would like to ask some questions such as: what is the structure of memory? What kind of things do we remember? How does the memory come to the present? Or How does memory affect storytelling? In this talk, I will try to answer these questions. I will also touch on childhood, which is an important point here. And then I will discuss how Shaun Tan's work relates to his own childhood.

So, let's start…

Well, when you encounter a story, it might be said that the process of recalling the memory takes place through experience. The relationship storytelling constructs with memory plays a triggering role here. Because the human brain records every step, every image, every voice and every imagine… Everything we see in the environment is divided into certain codes in our minds. As Piaget (1952) suggested, the human mind transforms the things into images. And it has been doing this since childhood.

What a long time…

This is a good work from Shari Pratt, (she is Canadian born artist) her works mostly focuses on how memory affects identity, the name of this series is palimpsest which is a magical word, I will explain in the next slide…

Well, I would like to talk about the structure of the mind here.

We can think the structure of the mind is something layered, like the structure of a story script. We can call this situation as palimpsest. Although palimpsest is a technical term used to denote a parchment that has been written and erased in a row, it is used to describe the memory in many areas, where the old and the new are intertwined, the traces are not completely removed, and become a new phrase.

Palimpsest is also a strong metaphor used in architecture.

Especially, we can see this situation through some urban maps. Here, we see a city map which indicates how Cambridge has transformed over time. Actually, it is a collage rather than a map. In this collage, different times overlap each other. We can see the old, the new and even the newest ones at the same time. This is palimpsest and it shows a great resemblance to the structure of memory.

Bergson (1999) supports this layered situation by emphasizing the concept of time. According to Bergson, the origin of memory is the extension of the past into the present. This situation allows for the creative development of human consciousness.

For example, when we look at an artwork, although it is quite complicated to explain what the frames, lines, shapes evoke in our memory, what new kinds of schemes it adds to our minds, what it brings from the deepen layers in our memory, at the final, it might be said that a strong point is formed in the human mind during this process. Like a creative consciousness.

If I summarize so far,

We can call that memory is a combination of layers which comprise the traces of space, time and imagination. During a story, people begin to imagine by wandering through these layers which reflect the memories, so they experience the story.

While doing that, images overlap in some places, jump far apart in others. These images embark on a similar journey in the human mind. They move through the layers of memory and create some strong points inside or outside mental schemas.

Speaking of strong points, I would like to give an interesting example here.

(Bachelard, who is an architect and author of a well-known book, (maybe you have heard) The Poetics of Space.

In this book, Bachelard mentions that some places are physically recorded inside us beyond memories. For example, when we re-enter the places that have intense effects on us after years, we regain the reflexes of the first stairs we climbed. What does it mean? It means that we no longer get stuck on that step, which is a little higher than the others.

Especially childhood is an interesting period for establishing such relationships with memory. The fact that childhood remains alive and poetically in us takes place not on the plane of facts, but on the plane of imagination. In this sense, there is a strong connection between memory and imagination.

Pallasmaa again an architect and academician, works on memory-image in architecture.

(His well-known books are (The eyes of the skin, Thinking Hand, The Architecture of Image)

Pallasmaa says that "One who cannot remember can hardly imagine, because memory is the soil of imagination."

There is also an interesting study that I would like to mention here.

Psychologist Françoise Minkowska and her fellow researchers, studied home paintings made by children. Françoise Minkowska organized a very impressive exhibition of paintings by Polish and Jewish children persecuted during the war. She describes them as still houses and highlights that asking a child to draw a house is like revealing the deepest dream of one.

Here I want to underline this sentence. Maybe we'll remember this again.

"Asking a child to draw a house is like revealing the deepest dream of one."

And it is also possible to see that there is an emphasis on storytelling in this sentence. Because I believe that a child's drawing of a house somehow contains a story. and this story is definitely related to the concept of memory.

At this point, I would like to give an inspiring example of the connection between storytelling and memory. And it also shows how important childhood memories can be.

Ursula Le Guin creates an article which is about the house she lived in when she was a child. (Living in a Work of Art; Words are My Matter). Emphasizing that she had a very full and intense childhood in that house, at the end of the article, Le Guin explains how her memories in that house affected her stories.

If I summarize, she says that "I wonder if I learned most of my ideas about what a novel should be like by living in that house. Maybe all my life I've tried to rebuild that house with words."

I think this sentence expresses very well the deep connection between memory-images and storytelling.

Well, in order to understand the reflections of this situation in graphic narrative, now I want to look at the works of Shaun Tan, who extensively includes images from childhood memories. Shaun Tan explains that his drawings first come to life as images in his mind, then he finds the right story by drawing these images many times.

So, I want to ask where these images exactly come from?

Most of the readers feel that these images are somehow related to childhood. Because these illustrations touch on some beautiful moments that remind us of our basic human emotions, even in a chaotic world

Even if he often digs into how it feels to be seen as different in his stories, he describes this situation in a naive way, not in an atmosphere of pessimism. In doing so, he uses some interesting, cheerful images which remind us of childhood.

These images may be composed of lived situations or purely imagined realities. Who knows?

As an example of lived images, it might be said that the empty flat lands in the stories of Tales from Outer Suburbia were inspired by the places where he lived for a while in his childhood. In an interview with Shaun tan, he says that these empty spaces are a mixture of childhood set here and slums from American movies.

For example, the warm weather, which is beautifully expressed in colors, or the shadows of trees, deserted roads and electric poles can be considered as representations of his true memories of childhood. But it doesn't even matter if these places are real or not. It is enough for him to have only dreamed of it.

According to Bachelard, once a place is imagined, that place is now inscribed in the memory. Therefore, besides the lived situations, it is also important to explore the imagined situations.

We will never know whether the mysterious inner courtyard discovered in "Any Country" (a story in the Tales from Outer Suburbia)is a real memory of Shaun Tan or a place that he completely imagined.

Or we don't know if the red leaf or the red socks and the red rabbit are real. All we know is that these may have been imagined by Shaun Tan. Here I would like to touch upon an important point between Shaun Tan's works and memory. We do not call these works as memoirs. Because they are not. These are just some images from childhood. Shaun tan turns them into something creative here. So, something new. It gives them a new meaning.

Well, this is my last slide, which is one of my favourite paintings from Cicada. As a last thing, I want to say that as both readers and creators/artists, all we do during this whole process is just wander through the layers of memory and collect some images. Just like Shaun Tan did. We see that he wanders through the layers of his childhood memories many times. And he ends these trips with interesting stories.

Stories create unseen realities and micro details.

Stories remind us magic and dreams…

I wonder if we could imagine that while creating these stories, Shaun Tan maybe opens his deepest childhood dreams to us?

Because "asking a child to draw a house is like revealing the deepest dream of one."

Do you remember?

Maybe, this is one of the reasons why his work can easily relate to children and young readers.

At the end of the day, they're more interested in dreams than we are, aren't they?


Piaget, J. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children. (M. Cook, Trans.). W W Norton & Co.

Bergson, H. (1999). An Introduction to Metaphysics. Hackett Publishing Co.