Interactive Artworks That Bring Out the Kid in Us


Did you know that there’s currently a three-story slide in middle of the New Museum? And a mirrored carousel? It’s true! There’s just some art that really brings out your inner child. From escapist rafts to climbable architecture to interactive street art to politically-themed arcade games, we’ve rounded up a few recent works in various mediums that are practically begging us to come out and play with, on, in, and around them. Have some fun with our gallery.

Carsten Höller’s slide

Burrowing from the fourth through the third to the second floor of Manhattan’s New Museum, Carsten Höller’s signature silvery, semi-transparent slide reverts every visitor back to the age of “weee!!!” little children. The Experience survey exhibition (now open) is full of all kinds of interactive fun (upside-down goggles, sensory deprivation tank, etc.), but this one is a 102-foot-long classic. Plus, it comes with elbow pads and release forms, lest you get too giddy.

TrustoCorp’s modified arcade machines

Did we mention our inner child is a cynical little bastard? Yeah. Stop by TrustoCorp’s new show Life Cycle at the Opera Gallery in New York to see 50 brand new works, among them several fully-functioning, refurbished, ’50s era arcade games — all politically-themed. Riot Cop, Border Patrol, Seal Team 6 (“Never Regret”) as well as the American-healthcare system-inspired Botched Operation game, featuring “cut throat insurance policies” and “one foot in the grave.”

EVOL’s little city installations

Though EVOL’s uncanny mini-cities usually appear in urban environments, this installation in a meadow of Hamburg, Germany must have been particularly magical. Grr! I’m Godzilla! Grr!

David Černý’s, ahem, ladder

If your inner child is thirteen, here’s some bold, politically satirical art from Czech sculptor David Černý aptly disguised as juvenile shtick. Inside are Czech politicians singing “We Are The Champions.” Pffft. Hahahaha. Butt.

Mattia Casalengo’s grass mask

This complex olfactory piece of “wearable architecture” by artist Mattia Casalengo clasps onto your head, feeds the sound of your own recorded breathing back into your ears and presses fresh-smelling grass right up in your face. Ah, fun. Because kids like to wear weird things. Also, if you grew up in a rural area, sweet memories of young yesteryear are sure to flood your mind in a hypnotizing daze.

Improv Anywhere’s public megaphone

Improv Anywhere’s recent installation in New York’s Union Square actually went over really well. They slyly constructed an official-looking wooden lectern equipped with a megaphone and the sign, “Say Something Nice.” People did. Kids did. One lil one said “to infinity and beyond!” Surprisingly, no one busted out with an armpit fart serenade, even though the opportunity so plainly presented itself.

The Steampunk Treehouse

Burning Man is pretty much one big precocious child fiesta for your soul. This Steampunk Treehouse by the Five Ton Crane Arts Group was particularly stirring. What kid doesn’t love tree houses? What kid doesn’t like tree houses resting on metal trunks and branches that releases actual steam and look a-a-a-aweso-o-o-ome?!

Starn Brothers’ bamboo playhouse

Once crowning the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art overlooking Central Park, the gigantic, organic, 25-foot tall labyrinthine entitled Big Bambú: You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop combined the familiarity of the playing house with the thrills of precarious tree climbing — you just had to wait for your guided tour/field trip.

SWEZA’s playable street art

This piece of wizardry comes our way via Berlin based artist SWEZA. Interactive street art? Why, thank you. Eeee! This boombox wheatpaste will actually play a visible, virtual “tape” when activated with a QR-code reader on your smartphone. Like magic.

The Rockaway Armada

We wonder just how many people spend hours sifting through Tod Seelie’s photos of the Miss Rockaway Armada and the Swimming Cities of Serenissima, daydreaming of sailing urban rivers on DIY art floats impressively concocted from steel, speakers, derelict architecture and running away with artists, bikers, crusties, free spirits, what have you. Is there such a thing as a Huck Finn complex?