Read: Cart-Load-O-Fun, July 6 2013

Date: July 11, 2013

Author: Sophie Harrington

Cart-Load-O-FunMASTERCUSP: Designing into the Next Decade is Object: Australian Design Centre’s latest (and dare I say it greatest!) design exhibition. It features 12 designers from pretty diverse fields who have one great thing in common – that they are using their minds and unique talents to imagine how design can make things better. A pretty lofty ideal indeed, but something that really isn’t that far fetched when you think about how design is involved in and impacts upon almost every aspect of our lives.

Isn’t a better world what we are each striving for in our own way? Be it in little ways, trying to live more green and clean, volunteering your time or donating to worthwhile causes.

I do spend a lot of my time thinking about that life that I lead and the impact that it is having on those around me, the world, and the future. It is great to think that real world change can come from your work and passion, big changes can be what you dedicate your life to, and, let’s face it, what you spend most of your time doing! So many of the CUSP designers are doing this with their big ideas and I guess what the exhibition as a whole is doing too —getting people thinking about the world that they want and that could be possible through design!

Another thing that I often toy with the idea of is how to balance being socially responsible and living what I think is a good life whilst still having fun. You see, I really do believe that happiness is the most important thing in life, but not in a selfish, carefree kind of way. Oh no, I think true happiness comes from thinking of others, doing the ‘right thing’ and being guilt- and regret-free about your choices.

CUSP also seems to embody this balancing act for me. Fun is incorporated into so much of what the designers do, how they connect with the audience in the exhibition, and in the public programs that have run already. One such mind-blowing example was the Cart-Load-O-Fun game run on the train on Saturday 6 July (the opening day of CUSP.) Cart-Load-O-Fun is the brainchild of Chad Toprak, who works with Floyd Mueller at The Exertion Games Lab at RMIT University in Melbourne. His game completely transforms public space and how people experience it. It encourages interaction, cooperation, and certainly elicits joy! Their work is all about examining the relationship between play, gaming and technology and looking at how we will exert ourselves in the future.

We ran Cart-Load-O-Fun on the train from Casula Station (CUSP is showing at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre until Sunday 1 September) to Central Station. The game was a complete hit and was fully booked out. The game consisted of a projection of all the action onto the ceiling and sensors attached to the poles. How well you performed in hitting the target was determined by how well you worked together with the other player in timing your squeezes on the sensor pads One person’s controller moved your ‘character’ (the squiggly line that controlled all the action) vertically and the other’s moved it horizonatally.

This relatively simple sounding premise made for many a frustrated moan and raucous laughter on the journey as you had to work this out for yourself with trial and error. The aim was to reach a fixed ball on the screen, which if you worked together to get there, would then explode The better you did the more balls you would explode. The record on our journey was 31 but sadly my personal best was only 4! It was such a fun game that we even managed to convince some passengers on their regular journey to join us in the fun.

It really was wonderful to see what had been complete strangers when we all got on the train working together whilst playing the game, and then even carrying on chatting excitedly together afterwards. It made the trip fly as we were all having so much fun!

What a way to bring people together and change their experience of transport and what commuting could entail! It really made me think about transport not just as a necessity or a service, but of the possibility of it being a social space to meet and play.