One of the few electronic devices allowed to me in my childhood was a mini portable AM radio my father had brought back from a business trip to Hong Kong in the late 80’s. By the time it was handed down to me, the original 木版画 (moku hanga) image of a half-nude geisha was mostly faded away and the battery cover had been lost and replaced by a thick layer of yellowing scotch tape. Unknowing of the consequences, I trimmed out an image of a kid holding a gun from my parents’ copy of William Klein’s early catalogue and pasted it over the geisha. The lecture that ensued...

When Klein announced a retrospective exhibition at the Tate Modern around the time of my visit to Europe, I knew I had to visit to better understand the work which I had so “carelessly defaced.”

What I saw was different. Klein had organized a very playful exhibition with painted contacts recalling the process of selecting the perfect image in a pre-digital age. Recalling what I saw, what I remember most and what interests me now, is the juxtaposition of the supposed “perfect image” with the cut frames, exposing the carefully-arranged nature of the works.

The playfulness exhibited in Klein’s work is what has often been attributed to the ludic. Ludic in both conception and presentation is a means to shake the viewer out of their respective routines, to bring focus to a greater understanding. Relying on a discrete way of orch­estration, the ludic does not allow for ideas or content to be dictated but to be discovered with our own mental faculties. The responsibility falls on the viewer to assimilate what they see.

In this first issue of underscore, the authors question the playfulness of the architecture we see today and seek to foster a discussion concerning the future of our ludic disposition.

What is our understanding of ludic? At what point does ludic become ludicrous?

Hawke Gihm
April 2015