FROM GAMING TO PLAYING
In experience, the fictional and the real are same to us.
Semester 2 was concluded with the exam work Inside Looking Out, an imagination ritual for six participants. Here, with the aid of headphones and media players, participants of the piece are introduced to a narrative that treats whatever is perceived in the real world as part of a fictional one.
Each participants is receiving her own unique narrative and challenges, and the total six are intertwined in a shifting, synchronised choreography, where new and new social constellations take place.
This was the first step in using people and their imagination as the prime artistic medium and subject of change, the role of the media players was to be an agency for interaction. The work relied heavily on mechanisms of projection and what I call Secret Fiction, where contradictory narratives are superimposed to one another, with the same spectacle in reality having multiple meanings in multiple fictions at once.
The work, and especially the revised version, done a few months later (see documentation in the video above) was a powerful start in a territory, which - for my practice - was so far uncharted. This was carried on, to a residency done with Belgian sound artist Roel Heremans at and in collaboration with Pianofabriek Brussels.
Here, throughout a weeks' work, we developed the first version of 'Court', a participatory experience for four players and headphone guides. In 'Court' the players are invited to step into an ecosystem of choreographed rituals, that lay in the liminal borders of fiction and reality. Drawing upon the formal traditions of instruction tapes, team-building exercises and live-action role playing, the experience aims to give participants the insight to find transcendent in the everyday, and meaning in the meaningless.
Using headphones and human voice as an aid is a powerful, yet very intrusive method. The sonic exclusion of the outside world and messages delivered right into the ear works very effectively in getting participants to obey and believe what is being said, but it was carried out in the oppressive and violent means that modern technology operates with. Participants often felt forcefully manipulated into situations and the forcefulness of that act created distance between them and the work.
In 'Court' we intended to bypass this issue by introducing the Unreliable Narrator, a voice in the headphones, that is initially set out to guide and instruct the participant, but fails at it miserably in the end. In such way, the authority of the media-player was questioned, and in a broader perspective, the authority and the authorship of the maker. This was not out of sheer gimmick, nor to provide only a mere point of reflection about such power-dynamics. It was there to really enable the participant to take things in her own hands, and embark on a journey into a more unknown territory.
Once introduced to the rules inside the Magic Circle, and how it operates, she could get rid of the device leading her, and start creating on her own, and with others.
There was drive to transform my works into something that is not fixed and orders participants to walk through it, but rather something that becomes a new reality, an invitation to be part of it, and a window of opportunity to create in it.
This is a shift from an interactive experience, and onto a collaborative experience. Here the outcomes are not fixed or numbered, the setting and the starting point is fixed, the rest emerges in accordance with what the participants do.
[ back to top ]