Polyphonic Playground turns messing about into a giant musical instrument

Polyphonic Playground turns messing about into a giant musical instrument

Play time collides with audiovisual art — House of Vans London presents an immersive interactive sound installation by Studio PSK.

With the grind of “adult” life, it’s sometimes difficult to remember the feeling of being a kid at the playground. I’m not totally certain, but I think it was a blast. Slides, swings, monkey bars. It was all good fun. For Studio PSK, the people behind House of Vans’ latest exhibition Polyphonic Playground, it’s still very much a part of life.

Polyphonic Playground has already spent time exhibiting in Miami and Milan, Fashion Space Gallery originally commissioned the work alongside the London College of Fashion and it’s now found its way to the Waterloo arches.


Combining audio-visual art with the playground has resulted in a collaboration with award-winning beatboxer Reeps One, his visceral, tactile performance style providing a perfect soundscape in which the playground can exist. The structure, in all its glory, will stand inside the gallery space with people being encouraged to interact with it in any way they choose. The timber frame has been designed to recreate a normal playground, built to an adult scale. Every inch has been covered in conductive paint, tape and yarn. This is an immersive experience, you’ve got to throw yourself in to appreciate it fully.

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For Patrick Stevenson-Keating, Studio PSK’s director, the freedom and versatility of the project has been one of its main highlights. Showcasing it to different countries, cultures and artistic interpretations has meant the project takes on a new life in each new city.

“It’s been very exciting for us to be able to show the playground in three very different international venues,” said Stevenson-Keating. “Originally we designed the piece for a space secured by the Fashion Space Gallery during Design Miami. This initial setting was a rather unusual one being an indoor football field in the Wynwood neighbourhood. We loved the slightly bizarre context – especially the astro turf pitch – it was sort of a juxtaposition to everything you would associate with Design Miami.”


PSK has experimented with interactivity in their art on projects before; Quantum Parallelograph examined users experience with science, Handcrafted Particle Accelerator encouraged its audience to handle the different components the made up a machine of the same name, while 2014’s Reciprociti Bank challenged people to think about economics and the financial services in an artistic environment. Much of PSK’s work to-date has focused on big concepts, by stripping it all back to childhood, they’re challenging notions of what their art represents.

“When we are children, we are constantly learning and seeing the world anew – this sense of curiosity gets diluted with age,” Stevenson-Keating explains. “We wanted to rekindle that sense of discovery in the physical environment. People don’t know exactly what’s going to happen when they climb our playground, but when it starts to make music, you can see that same childish pleasure again.”

If you want to experience that same childish pleasure yourself, Polyphonic Playground will be at the House of Vans from Friday, January 29 to Sunday February 21.