Posted at the entrance of “Toy as Medium”, the latest exhibition at the Floating Projects art space, is a collection of thoughts about play as an activity: Plato’s “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation” and Carl Jung’s “the creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct”.

To outsiders, this group show merely appears as a gamer’s playroom or a model-maker’s workshop, and this might have something to do with the venue. Located in a Wong Chuk Hang industrial building, Floating Projects is a self-funded art space led by independent artist Linda Lai Chiu-han, who is also a lecturer at City University’s School of Creative Media.

It is a place to meet, discuss, experiment and exhibit. In what is termed “assemblage sessions”, the space also becomes a working studio. In the weeks before this exhibition it was a workshop for 11 artists, predominantly graduates or students from the School of Creative Media, to collectively explore the culture of playing and using toys as art-like objects.

The result is a series of constructions and installations using toys, video games and plastic models; as well as some serious inquiry into the notion of recreation, as outlined in the excellent explanatory bilingual artist’s notes.

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The exhibition is centred on play, memories of childhood, craftsmanship, hero-worship and cultural associations of toys.

Kel Lok Man-chung poses the question, “What is it like growing up?” and offers such answers as, “It is the will to accept … the will to confront” and “… the will to believe”. These goals also apply to adults, with Lok taking a “grown-up” approach to toy-making when he heard of a friend who was left grief-stricken after her cat died.

Hoping to cheer her up, Lok built a whimsical cardboard house with cats depicted in various poses inside. The construction, entitled That House (2016), was accompanied by imaginary screenshot-style graphics of web pages dedicated to cats. These were humorously “framed” by a smartphone cover that could slide over and between the pages as if they were being swiped.

Lai Wai-leung’s Model Sceneries (2016) are predominantly imagined war scenes, dioramas containing plastic model war planes, tanks, vehicles, numerous accessories and a variety of soldiers in an open-air land­scape of painted dirt, grass and shrubbery.

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Unlike similar constructions by British artist duo Jake and Dinos Chapman, who purposely shock, Lai uses ironic humour to depict the absurdity of war. A scene set in Ukraine in 1941 shows a soldier standing atop an armoured car surrounded by tools and equipment. Looking down to another soldier he asks, “How can I fix it?” Another scene shows a German tank blocked on a cobblestone village road by a cow, goat, pigs and chickens, which are told, “Hey, give way!”

As any toy model-maker frustratingly discovers after completing a work: there are always leftover pieces. In a nice partner­ship of assemblage, Lok collects the leftovers from Lai’s constructions and makes com­posite pieces. Captain: Enhanced External Limb (E.E.L.) (2016) shows the captain of Regenerator, an imaginary team of rebels, whose super-strong arms, or EELs, “boost strength and maintain lifespan!”

Cultural characteristics are explored, too. Andio Lai set up a games area – intentionally situated near the busy Floating Projects entrance – for visitors to play Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros video game. It replicates a small Hong Kong flat with children playing video games while their parents annoyingly walk past and in front of the television set.

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Wong Fuk-kuen’s B-Daman Battle Table (2016) uses early generation Japanese plastic toys that have marble-launchers embedded in their chests. When a trigger is pushed, the marble is fired. The Battle Table sees two opponents, one at each end of an alley, firing marbles to push a target over a line to win. Wong says, “This is not nostalgia, it’s truly fun!” – and it is.

Lam Kin-choi and Jess Lau Ching-wa ask visitors to draw pictures recalling their own memories of childhood games. Some of these reflect a simpler time: a bedsheet stretched out and held at each end to replicate the sea while children “swim” around it.

Another make-believe game reproduces cold weather by opening a refrigerator door while heat is then “produced” by rubbing two chopsticks together.

The personal reflections will be publish­ed in a magazine – adding further substance to this thought-provoking exhibition.

The “Toy as Medium” exhibition is at Floating Projects, 8/F, Kwai Bo Industrial Building, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang, 12pm-8pm, until December 12.