Chapter VIII.

Edges of Knowing

  Áron Birtalan explaining lunch instructions to citizens in the Kingdom of Caer Cadarn - 2015, Hejce, Hungary

Áron Birtalan explaining lunch instructions to citizens in the Kingdom of Caer Cadarn - 2015, Hejce, Hungary


The current interests in my research are also intersections which tackle politics and arts alike. I’d like to refer to them as Edges, signifying the current frontiers of my practice and knowledge. These Edges are the questions and issues I'm most inspired to explore in the following years, and through the Publication proposed.

Edge 1 – The Document
How to understand falling asleep? – By falling asleep.

Through experience (of the publication), the participant (the reader) is allowed to understand (to be with, to commune with) what is at hand. Due to the nature of Transformation Games, such experience brings about a reconditioning of the participant, and posterior transformative effect, once exiting the Ludic Society and returning to the everyday world. Such understandings (as all experiences) cannot be undone. This goes back to the methods of knowledge production I explored through my process of Embodied Research, where practices of reconditioning led to a visceral-level of understanding. These understandings are impossible to put into words, but once one experiences them, they become as engraved as riding a bicycle. 

This proposes that the length of the posterior transformative effect (and thus the artwork) lasts for life. The ex-participant becoming the living document itself. ‘I’ve been there, and now I know how it is’. This kind of document is not a narrative (not a story, or testimonial), nor a spectacle. It is a document that exists in relations – be that personal or interpersonal. The document of a Transformation Game and the Ludic Society is the reconditioned participant and the previously non-existing network of participants who from undergoing the same, or similar experiences now poses a shared understanding and kinship with one another.
The facilitation and emergence of such networks thus reinforce the notion of Transformation Games being a practice that is a ‘making of politics’ – and a very revolutionary one that is.

Edge 2 – The Creative vs. The Producing Society

In my reading, a Creative Society is self-fulfilling, open-ended society. It’s only purpose is to facilitate and experience the act and state of creation. To be in it. A Producing Societies goal is to maximize production, with every action subordinate to the objective of reaching the desired endpoint – the Product. Even though Ludic Societies have a marked end, they are self-fulfilling societies, with no end goal other than itself. The Ludic Society is a Creative Society, unique each time, and in this playing and playfulness plays a crucial role. Playfulness is the buffer of the Creative Society not to go into Producing Society. The counterweight that enables open-endedness, revolution, and emergence. The moment it stops Ludic (playful) it goes into Production.

Edge 3 – The Facilitator and its responsibility
What am I (Áron) doing here?

The Facilitator is the living extension of the Facility. They are present as a Function, not as a Role, nor as a Participant. Their function is to provide a condition of possibility for the experience to arise, the same way an Atelier provides the conditions for a painter. Facilitators can be designers (architects of the Facility) or guides (navigators and teachers of the Facility). What is their function? Why is there a need for a living extension? Firstly, to act as mediators. Secondly to prevent the Society from going into the perpetual model (sect) nor into Producing Society. The Facilitator is there to help participants enter and exit the Magic Circle, while also holding its borders when needed. This act is often referred to as 'Holding Space' and it is a common practice of facilitators of various practices - guides, therapists, shamans, teachers and so on. If not present, the Society can be overthrown by a self-proclaimed authority, violently breaking the Contract (as we see with dictators in turbulent political times).

Edge 4 – Authority and Authorship

The experience of the Ludic Society suspends the object/subject polarity in favor of an organic synergy with itself and its participants. Thus, if we want to frame Ludic Societies within the classic discourse of categorizing participants of a (for example) artistic experience (as makers, performers, spectators, audience, etc.) we will quickly realize that it is impossible to do that. Everyone fulfills those categories at once, with the highest authority being the Social Contract made and accepted by all participants. This decentralization of personal authority brings about the question of decentralized authorship. With the designers and guides only present as part of the facility, they cannot truly claim authorship for the artwork, the same way the speakers don’t claim authorship of the music transmitted through them.

So who can and should claim authorship?