Revolution and emergence
culture of The unkNown
In the liminal, we initiate new realities.
People love to play with each other, not with my work. That was a striking realisation by the end of these few months.
The highpoint of each and every work I tested was when the participants were given a chance to make their own decisions, either as an individual or as a group. In each debriefing or feedback session, the most ecstatic or heartfelt reactions from everybody was when the conversation shifted to those particular moments of engagement and pride of creation.
Since then, those moments became key. A medium communicates at best when it is transparent. And while their are great possibilities in putting the mechanics of a work in the forefront and celebrate it’s potential for engagement, it became obvious that for the emotional engagement I wanted the participants to have, a work has to stop being a experience about something, and rather just become that something, without being auto-reflexive on its own architecture.
The essence of the work is not itself, but the possibilities it can facilitate, and the actions rising from those possibilities, creating a culture of their own. This is the ‘Magic’ of the ‘Magic Circle’, in the liminal space and moment.
Finnish experience designer Johanna Koljonen said that: ‘If after the runtime, the participants come to you, saying how great you are for designing this work, you did something wrong. If they are busy praising one-another how great they are, you did the job right!'
And while I only partially agree with that, it is true that there is a different principle in this type of design. In most other disciplines of art, this would count as a denouncement of authorship. Instead I’d like to propose that system like this does not denounce, but emancipates the notion of authorship (as well as the role of spectator and performer), and provides ground for a community to arise.
And emancipation does not mean decontextualisation or free-for-all sandbox. There is a present (thought transparent) framework and context these works happen in, necessary for invitation, engagement and immersion and creation.
In my Research Dossier for Semester 2, I introduced the concept of Revolution, an element in my game design that allows a Closed System (for example head-or-tails, which is governed by a binary mechanic of fixed outcomes, and nothing else) to an Open System, where the initial governing rules of the game can alter, thus creating new games and consequently new realities. This is the cutting of the Gordian Knot, and introduction of a new element in a seemingly fixed paradigm, that in so transforms the status quo and allows new paradigms to emerge.
What fascinates me at this point is to apply Revolution to moments of our social reality, where by finding the slightest alteration, the domestic and everyday becomes transformed, and taps into a territory where the possibility of new realities lie.
The liminal is nothing, but that moment of change, where by entering into it and embracing its unpredictability, we can then return as more understanding, resilient and able human beings.