"While Harold Lloyd played the daredevil, hanging from clocks, and Buster Keaton maneuvered through surreal and complex situations, [Charlie] Chaplin concerned himself with improvisation. For Chaplin, the best way to locate the humor or pathos of a situation was to create an environment and walk around it until something natural happened. The concern of early theater and film was to simply keep the audience's attention through overdramatic acting that exaggerated emotions, but Chaplin saw in film an opportunity to control the environment enough to allow subtlety to come through."
(Public Broadcasting Service, 28th August 2006)
"The idea of an open city is not my own: credit for it belongs to the great urbanist Jane Jacobs in the course of arguing against the urban vision of Le Corbusier. She tried to understand what results when places become both dense and diverse, as in packed streets or squares, their functions both public and private; out of such conditions comes the unexpected encounter, the chance discovery, the innovation. Her view, reflected in the bon mot of William Empson, was that 'the arts result from over-crowding'. Jacobs sought to define particular strategies for urban development, once a city is freed of the constraints of either equilibrium or integration. These include encouraging quirky, jerry-built adaptations or additions to existing buildings; encouraging uses of public spaces which don't fit neatly together, such as putting an AIDS hospice square in the middle of a shopping street. In her view, big capitalism and powerful developers tend to favour homogeneity: determinate, predictable, and balanced in form. The role of the radical planner therefore is to champion dissonance. In her famous declaration: 'if density and diversity give life, the life they breed is disorderly'. The open city feels like Naples, the closed city feels like Frankfurt."
(Richard Sennett, 2006)
Fig.1 Busy street in Naples, marlenworld.com
Fig.2 Paris, Les Olympiades, 1969-1974, Thierry Bézecourt in 2005
 Sennett, R. (2006). The Open City: The Closed System and The Brittle City. Urban Age.
"Children learn about themselves, others and the world they live in through play. Outdoor environments for play and learning can provide rich experiences for children who seek fantasy and adventure and are innately curious about nature. Children's environments, particularly school and neighbourhood playgrounds, parks and gardens, have the potential to facilitate learning through social, emotional, cognitive and creative opportunities. Unfortunately, in America, the play and learning potential for many outdoor play spaces is underdeveloped."
(Lauri Macmillan Johnson)
Fig.1 The Adventure Playground, 160 University Avenue, Berkeley, California is an example of an open-ended play environment.
Fig.2 commercially available play environments often work to regulate engagement according to social norms.
 Johnson, L. M. (2004). American Playgrounds and Schoolyards - A Time for Change. In School of Landscape Architecture. Tempe, AZ, The University of Arizona Press.
"During the 1970s, magazines published in Communist Czechoslovakia were controlled by the state, like the majority of other enterprises. Very few good magazines were available and were difficult to get hold of, so people would borrow and exchange them when given the opportunity. This also applied to magazines aimed at young people, which was probably one of the reasons why almost everyone from my generation, when we get on to the subject of pinhole cameras, has fond memories of the cut-out paper camera known as Dirkon*, published in 1979 in the magazine ABC mladých techniků a přírodovědců [An ABC of Young Technicians and Natural Scientists].
Its creators, Martin Pilný, Mirek Kolář and Richard Vyškovský, came up with a functional pinhole camera made of stiff paper, designed for 35 mm film, which resembles a real camera. It may not be the most practical of devices, but it works!
My first attempt at putting together a paper Dirkon a few years after it came out fell victim to a total lack of patience on my part. Today, twenty years later, I decided that I had to include this unusual pinhole camera in my collection. So I got hold of an old copy of ABC and set to work....
* The name Dirkon is a play on words based on the combination of the parts of two words: Dirk- is the beginning of the Czech word dírka – pinhole, and -kon is the end of the name of a well-known Japanese camera which needs no introduction.
A few notes about the original instructions
For the patient among you, here are the instructions for making the Dirkon camera which you can download in Adobe PDF format. But first a few notes which I've jotted down after my experience with making it, which you might find useful.
The camera must be cut out of stiffer paper than ordinary office paper (or thin card). If the paper isn't entirely opaque, you need to stick very thin black paper underneath the important sections so that no light gets into the camera. This is particularly important for sections 1, 2, 3, 10 and 23.
It is very important to print the cut-out to the correct size, i.e. 1 : 1. When you are printing from the Acrobat Reader, the option "Fit to page" MUST NOT be selected, otherwise the pages might come out smaller and the film won't fit into the Dirkon camera. I've added a ruler on each page so that you can check that the size is correct.
The instructions recommend using Foma 21° DIN film. This was film made back in former Czechoslovakia but it's similar, for example, to today's Ilford PAN 100. You can of course use any 35 mm film, even colour.
I discovered from the makers of Dirkon that, even when it was published, people often came up with improvements on their model. The design was significantly improved by sticking on a thin piece of metal with a hole, rather than making the hole in the paper, as described in the instructions. I didn't follow this suggestion, however, since I wanted to experience the real magic of Dirkon photography."
"[Mikhail] Bakhtin's concept of carnival as a subversive, disruptive world-upside-down event in which the repressive views, lies, and hypocrisy of the officially run and dominated everyday world are unmasked provides a powerful theoretical concept for any study of Iranian popular theatrical and related musical forms. Bakhtin was concerned with polyvocality and the fact that from the onset of the European Renaissance the voices of the common people were increasingly not heard. The Islamic Republic's ban on the performance of improvisational comic theater would seem to support this theoretical stance with empirical evidence of official reaction. In the European context analyzed by Bakhtin, a writer, exemplified by Rabelais, enacts an important role because he or she reflects the voices of the low, the peasant, the outcast. In Bakhtin's view, the healthy voice of the low, which questions the high-the church and the state-is an important check on oppressive officials in a healthy society.
A full-fledged carnival—such as those in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans—does not exist in the Iranian culture sphere. By carnival I mean a massive demonstration of excessive eating, drinking, and sexual and bodily exposure, popularly associated with Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, that does not occur within an Islamic/Iranian context. Threads and themes of carnivalesque and grotesque subversion, however, can be found woven through the fabric of the Iranian world. Here the needle that pricks the official religious, social, and political powers most is the traditional comic theater in its many guises.
In many ways siyah-bazi and ru-howzi embody Bakhtin's notions of the grotesque and the carnivalesque. Gholam-siyah, the blackface clown, the 'low Other,' always wins over his master: the world upside down. Gholam-siyah's extravagant clothing, movements, speech, and lower-class language demonstrate Bakhtin's dictum, 'the grotesque...cannot be separated from folk humor and carnival spirit' (Stallybrass and White 1986, 43). Gholam's bright red costume and conical hat, for example, are probably the closest thing to carnival costume in the entire Middle East. William O. Beeman, a scholar of Iranian linguistics, discusses the blackface clown: 'The clown distorts normal physical movement by jumping, running, flailing his arms, and twisting his body into odd shapes' (1981, 515). This is, of course, part of his repertoire, for sight gags make up much of the comedy of traditional comic theater. This grotesque twisting of the body is also part of the dancing that occurs in the comic theater, especially by the male characters."