Posted by Kevin Ramler
High Drama! Free Xuns! Ceramic Rayguns! Statistical Analysis! What else could you ask for from a work of art?
I am extremely excited to be debuting a new interactive performance at the conference this year. A Very Serious Game has been crafted especially for NCECA and every conference attendee will be a player in this expansive, experimental game. These players, or Væssals, will go about their normal business- attending lectures, visiting galleries, shopping for tools, and connecting with friends old and new. Meanwhile a gang of hand-selected “assassins” will be roaming the corridors and galleries of NCECA, armed with a device of my own invention, the Functional Ceramic Raygun. The assassins chooses a target, approaches, and (while demonstrating the proper use of the Raygun) politely inform the væssal that they have been eliminated from the game. Their victim will receive a card, which they can take to the Xun Zone Headquarters located in the Project Space area. There they will find me ensconced in the Xun Zone, collecting and mapping player data and tracking the progress of the game. Assassinated væssals may present me with their card, which I will validate. As consolation for their elimination I will present them with a Free Xun.
A Very Serious Game is part of my ongoing body of work The Xun Project. The goal of this project is to develop new and interesting ways to distribute free xuns. So far I have given away over 600 xuns and I will add 500 more to that tally through A Very Serious Game. The game revolves around a reversal of traditional expectations of victory; players who are eliminated are awarded a free xun, while players who persevere and win the game receive no reward.The game also highlights the ways in which systems are influenced by a variety of outside forces. By analyzing the data collected during the game I maybe be able to map extended personal networks and I may discover that there is true randomness present in peoples choices. The data collected will be real but skewed and ultimately meaningless, and yet it measures a meaningful effect on peoples lives. In this case the stakes are low, 500 players will leave with a xun and the rest will not. But what are the implications when this kind of influence skews systems that are meant to be balanced, meritocratic, or blind?
A Very Serious Game will be one of three Project Spaces at the Providence NCECA. Project Spaces offer the opportunity for artists to create and present site, time, or performance based work at the conference. They allow for elaborate or interactive works that might not fit in traditional exhibit spaces and complement the object based work presented in the gallery expo.