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July 2021

This is an invitation to conspire

Blend&Bleed: On Transreality and Pervasive Play

“This is an invitation to conspire” roundtable involved Omsk Social Club, Nina Runa Essendrop, Nick Koppenhagen, Vinicius Marquet, Steven Malliet, Orion Maxted, Trakal, and Carina Erdmann. It staged a collective moment of reflection around the currents and themes running throughout the program: “Hallucinating Reality,” “Collective Worlding,” “Rethinking Relations,” “Playing Roles,” and “Virtual Embodiment.”

How do we acknowledge simultaneous stories and colliding worlds in the creation and negotiation of a shared gamespace? What structures enable us?

To conspire means to breathe together. This statement was made by Simon Asencio, who heard it from Eleanor Ivory Weber, who saw it on an Andy Warhol poster. “Conspire” also means “to let each other breathe.”

Steven Malliet, born 1977 in Turnhout, Belgium, is an artist, lecturer, and researcher at LUCA School of Arts, where he teaches “Meaningful Play” and art-based research. He is active in several research projects that involve the creation of game and interaction rules within artistic and applied contexts, in addition to investigating the relationship between music and visuals in audiovisual media production. He has designed a number of educational games and has created music videos and experimental short films. His academic research addresses the sociopsychological determinants of digital game play, video game realism, and the methodology of game text analysis—topics on which he has published in international journals.

He is coeditor of two books: Vice City Virtue: Moral Issues in Digital Game Play and The Borders of Subculture: Resistance and the Mainstream. As a musician he has created several albums and music videos under the name Slow Bear.

Vinicius Marquet is a designer, author, and researcher born in Mexico City in 1982. Vinicius has a master’s degree in digital culture and game design from University of the Arts, Utrecht, and The Open University, United Kingdom, with a specialty in digital storytelling from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the Royal Conservatory, Ghent. He is currently a Doctor of Arts candidate in the Interactions Research Unit at KU Leuven. His work explores the mutation of written language in programming and connectivity environments. In 2017, he published Bucle: Archivo de ficciones, a hyperfiction based on the life and work of Ulises Carrión, with Centro de Cultura Digital, Mexico City. His e-book Anacron: Hypothesis of an All Product (2009) is part of the third collection of electronic literature by the Electronic Literature Organization.

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.

Trakal, born 1988 in Dresden, Germany, is a filmmaker, writer, and participatory artist based in Berlin. Through collaborative processes, performative rituals, historical interrogation, and psychodynamic research, Trakal develops films, texts, and installations that deal with the impact that neoliberal subject-production, post-socialist processes, and surveillance technology have on the possibility of collectivity. Trakal’s work has been shown at the Museum for Photography, Berlin; Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany; Cinemateca Distrital, Bogotá; and Savvy Contemporary, Berlin, among others. Most recently, Trakal was a participant in the Whitney Independent Study Program.

Orion Maxted is a theater and performance maker based in Amsterdam. He studied computing before turning to music and performance art, and holds a Master of Theater from DAS. His work explores a hybrid of performative forms between complex systems, cybernetics, computation, language, musicality, and theater joined in the idea of an “algorithmic theater” where “computers” and language systems are made of people.

As well as being a member of ArtScience Forum, Orion collaborates with the Systems Biology department of the University of Amsterdam; is an affiliate researcher at the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition (ECCO) research group at the Free University of Brussels; and a core member of BAU, an organization supporting independent performance makers in Amsterdam. Orion is supported by Frascati Productions, Amsterdam. His performance works have been shown internationally throughout Europe, Asia, and North America.

Nick Koppenhagen is an artist from Berlin. He is interested in the visual properties of abstract systems and is working on a (non-)playable card game based on a force-directed graph, a memory dune, and the traces of interactions. He is one of the founding members of the Decentralized Autonomous Kunstverein.

His work has been exhibited at institutions like Kunsthaus Hamburg; Museum of Concrete Art, Ingolstadt, Germany; Klosterruine, Berlin; and Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin. He has given presentations at the Carpenter Center at Harvard University and La Gaîté Lyrique, Paris.

Nina Runa Essendrop is a Danish artist and LARP designer with a master’s degree in theater, dance, and performance studies. She has a strong focus on movement, sensory experiences, and the meaning of physical action. Nina is an active player in the Nordic LARP community. She has designed and produced blackbox LARPs, freeform games, large-scale LARPs, audience inclusive LARPs, and LARP festivals, and she has collaborated with artists in both Europe and New York.

Nina has designed and run workshops, LARPs, performances, and interactive theater pieces at, among others, Transmediale 2016 (Berlin, Germany), Momentum: The 8th Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art (Moss, Norway), Athens Biennale 2018 (Athens, Greece), The Flea Theater (New York, US), Dome of Visions (Århus, Denmark), and Ormston House (Limerick, Ireland).

Carina Erdmann is based in Berlin and Brussels. She works as multimedia artist, PhD researcher, and mentor at the Inter-Actions department at LUCA School of Arts C-Mine in the Research Cluster “Meaningful Play.” Her research project “DISTANT BODIES AND ACCOMPLICES – Rethinking the interaction between player and avatar through remote LARPing” explores the hybridization of live performance and online gaming. In the framework of the School of Commons at the Zurich University of the Arts, she researches “CONSPIRATORIAL BLEED – Exercises in Collective Worlding.” She is the cofounder of 0ct0p0s.net, a research site for collective and interactive narration.

Preview image: Carina Erdmann, Musings of a starfish, 2021. Collective worlding, drawing with shadow.

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