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July 2021

McKenzie Wark and Omsk Social Club: Early Transition as LARPing & Conversation

Blend&Bleed: On Transreality and Pervasive Play

McKenzie Wark discusses early transition as LARPing, how being a trans woman at times feels like role-playing through the gaze of others, and how forms of metaphorical bleed can avoid literal bleeding. She opens up a conversation with Omsk Social Club around the activities of “facting and ficting”; real game and role-play as strategies for collective worlding, subversion, and survival; pushing the boundaries of subjectivity and the self through play; and raving as a post-political form of expression.

McKenzie Wark, 2020 Photo: Heather Sten.

McKenzie Wark (she/her) is a writer and scholar based in New York and born 1961 in Newcastle, Australia. Wark is known for her writings on media theory, critical theory, new media, media art, and the Situationist International. She is the author of Gamer Theory (Harvard University Press, 2007), A Hacker Manifesto (Harvard University Press, 2004), and The Spectacle of Disintegration (Verso, 2013), among others.

Her latest writing includes Capital Is Dead: Is This Something Worse? (Verso, 2019), which describes a new ruling class that gains its power through the ownership and control of information; Reverse Cowgirl (Semiotext(e), 2020), a new genre for another gender and an auto-ethnography of the opacity of the self; and Sensoria (Verso, 2020), a transdisciplinary survey of the key thinkers and ideas that are rebuilding the world in the shadow of the Anthropocene. In 2019, she was awarded the Thoma Prize for writing on digital art. She teaches at the New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College in New York.

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.”

Omsk Social Club is a “futuristically political” (i.e., unrealistic) immersive action group. Omsk proposes contents and makings as forms of post-political entertainment in an attempt to shadow-play politics until the game ruptures the surface we now know as Life. In the field, this is called “Bleed.”

Omsk Social Club forks traditional methods of live action role-play (LARP) through immersive installations and into real game play (RGP) to induce states that could potentially be fiction or a yet-unlived reality. Everything is unique and unrehearsed: Omsk works closely with networks of viewers, and the living installations they create examine virtual egos, popular experiences, and political phenomena. This allows the works to become a dematerialized hybrid of modern culture alongside the participants’ unique personal experiences. In the past, Omsk Social Club’s RPG immersive environments have introduced landscapes and topics such as otherkin, rave culture, survivalism, catfishing, desire&sacrifice, positive trolling, algorithmic strategies, and decentralized cryptocurrency. They have exhibited across Europe in various institutions, galleries, theaters, and off-sites. In 2021, they will cocurate the 7th Athens Biennale with Larry Ossei-Mensah.

Preview image: Omsk Social Club, S.M.I2.L.E - A trip into Synesthesia, 2019. Volksbühne Berlin. Photo: Sylvia Rybak aka player Alex.

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