LUDENS LABS is a PLAYGRΟUND for the mind brought into being by our desire to learn, express ourselves and create through play. The Dutch historian and philosopher Johan Huizinga (1872-1945) created homo ludens to join homo ergaster, homo habilis, homo erectus and homo sapiens, then Gianni Rodari and John Nash along came to tell us, in their different ways, about game theories. Civilization, Huizinga wrote, is born of Man’s innate tendency to play, and different forms of culture—from justice and philosophy to poetry, prose and art—can be understood as manifestations or transfigurations of that basic human urge. It’s a shame homo ludens has been consigned to the wastebin of history. It’s time to remember him.
LUDENS LABS is an ANTI-DEPRESSANT, a slogan that grew out of our need to shout out that we can do things in the ways we want and not the ways that are forced upon us. So we decided to write without recipes, to see without being shown, to hear without waiting, to taste for enjoyment, to laugh without tickles, to be together to come together, to talk without evasions or just to have coffee with friends. So we said we’d play without cheating, put our aces on the table and work together on coaxing the surprise out into the open.
LUDENS LABS is a PLACE ON THE MAP of our daily dérives which was created out of our conviction that geography is charted by us first and then by the cartographers. Our apologies to Academe, but it’s time to take things in our own hands. We don’t like being studied, categorized, analyzed, described, defined, summarized, presented or discussed. Enough is enough: let’s study the situations ourselves, we say. Otherwise, why the hell did we learn to read and write? So the surprise—as a possible outcome of every deposition and every creative situation—is the subject we’ll be studying from a thousand different angles both serious and amusing: take your time to think about it.
LUDENS LABS is an EXPERIMENT which has been set in motion by the signs and seeks to confirm our core suspicions that there are valuable findings lying hidden beneath the sands. Don’t worry, we won’t lose ourselves in poetry. A little downtown space, which metamorphosed from horror to comedy in a matter of days when so many good folk lent a hand, is now open for association in a spirit of play (before us, the shop sold horror movies). We encourage attendance for guidance; urge readings from the ever-growing Lending Library beneath the stairs—so if anyone has books they know inside-out, let them bring them here so we can read them, too; we subsidize the mood for hot beverages with kettle, cafetières, teabags, glasses, mugs, coffee, spoons and dunking material: all manner of stuff we’ve pilfered from home; we promote mezzanine lounging for concealment and tranquillity and keep on knocking out hypotheses on your behalf.
LUDENS LABS is a LOW-BUDGET STORY born of our desire to prove that the Feast is fuelled by Fun. What Feast? What Fun? Well, Fun is a creative feeling off the map of the pompous, the polemical and the competitive in the realms of the dream, levity, magic, laughter, mystery, rivalry, critical thinking, amusement, ritual and peace. In short, Fun lies in the Play Zone—where the Feast is transformed into an expression of creativity that goes off with a multi-coloured bang!. LUDENS LABS games are played in peace, at gatherings where there’s no room for misunderstanding, insult, malevolence, selfishness & co. round the table. This is the spirit in which LUDENS LABS hosts its workshops, conferences, competitions, discussions, exchanges, exhibitions and other in situ situations.
And, playing, let’s learn, express ourselves and create.