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Notes Towards Day 8 (Thursday, 9/26): Critical Play

mlord's picture

I. Coursekeeping
naming one another; paying up in English House;
notes on mosaics to return to those of you I didn't see individually this week

No mandatory trip into the city this weekend, but your fourth "web-event" is due by midnight on Sunday:
3-pp. reflecting on both of your trips into the city, in terms of one of Flanagan's concepts.

Brainstorm connections between what happened on your trips, and in our reading of Flanagan. Focus on the structure of your essay: Be selective. Zoom in--or out. Be mindful of the writing strategies you are using;
create a web event with a form that delivers your (considered) thinking to your readers.

By classtime on Tuesday,
read the essays written by your two most recent writing partners (those whose mosaics you "structured" last night). Create a reading of both of these web events. What do you see? What do you not see? What do you take away? What in the events excite your interest? What do the writers seem curious about? What are you curious about after reading their events? What strategies in their writing, and techniques in your reading, can you name? Post these two responses, and also bring a copy of them to class, along with 2 or 3 quetions for each of your partners, based on your reading of their texts; these questions will form the basis of your in-class exchange.

II. two pieces of homework for today-->

describing the structure of one another's mosaics, in a posting on Serendip;
& bringing to share some research you've done/information you've gathered
about an artist who (according to Mary Flanagan) "plays critically"

let's start w/ our own work/play
--go 'round, read aloud to us all what was said
about the structure of your own mosaic (not what you wrote about others', but what
was written about the work you made). What might you add to/question about
your partner's report? (How's it feel, to have your work analyzed in public? And
having the chance to "talk back"?)

What's emerging from this analysis?
What ideas are you getting about how to structure the presentation of an idea?
What structures didn't you use--but might have? (why not?)
What was left out of your mosaics--and why?
What might have 'cracked' or broken them?
What stories haven't you yet told?
(think about the homeless, elided in most of your papers last week...)
What ideas might you develop?
How might you tell/develop them?

How does Isaiah situate his mosaics within the grid of tradition?
How does he depart from it?
Ditto re: you--what's grid, what deviance, in your mosaics?
("deviance" and "departure" seem to be synonyms for "critical play"....)

III. Introduction and Chapter 5 of Mary Flanagan's book on Critical Play
focusing, first, on artists/movements that engage in this activity:
Go 'round and say who you have brought into the room, to join us today:
why did you select this work? 
why does it interest you?
how would you characterize their play?
what makes it "critical" (or not?)

defining key terms

"a work of art...provokes a breach ... where the world is forced to question itself"(Foucault)
= "crack" and/or "punctum"?
radical game design for artistic, political, or social critique/intervention: "a spirit of revolt"
Brian Sutton-Smith: fun, voluntary, intrinsically motivated,
incorporates choices/free will, offers escape, and is fundamentally exciting;
fantasy spaces w/ real stakes
Johann Huizinga: "a free activity stnding quite consciously outside 'ordinary' life,"
voluntary, within fixed limits of time and place, w/ freely accepted, but absolutely binding,
rules;  the aim is play itself
questions aspects of human life; critiques the status quo
more-or-less constructed play scenarios
evolving, w/ shifting rules (vs. puzzles, which are static & to be solved logically)
Greg Costikyan: "a form of art in which players manage resources in pursuit of a goal"
competitive by definition; inherently non-linear, depending on plausible alternatives,
real options (vs. inherently linear stories), thereby giving players "agency"
Salen and Zimerman: "a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict,
defined by rules, that reesults in a quantifiable outcome"
here: situations with guidelines and procedures, themselves a techology
order and conventions that produce relationships, played out in patterns
how games are designed, presented has social implications; they function as social technologies
[Monopoly created to protest landlords, tax policies!]
action, plan, activity designed to undermine an institution, event, or object
powerful means for marginalized groups to have a voice, disrupt and intervene
difficulty of "breaking out"; inherent encapsulation and control--but a creative act
every game has its "cheats" (play itself involves subversion; subversion is instrinsic to play)
INTERVENTIONS: specific subversions, relying on direct action, engaging w/ political or social issues
DISRUPTION: a creative act that shifts the way a particular logic/paradigm is operating
players explore what is permissable, wht pushes that boundary
not purely conceptual; engage in a social issue

performative games provide utopian, playful visions, revisions of the world--
unlock the unconscious, incorporate improvisation or "flow"
Dadaism: viewed chance as a systematic approach, a means of accessing
the basic ordering processes of the natural world (153)
Surrealism: urgent need to do away w/ the old antinomies--
not sparing that of the serious and the non-serious (162)
Dali: "paranoid criticism" = systemized confusion, critical associations, perceiving new relationships of meaning
Conceptual Artists: process as a way to rethink authority, politics and cultural status quo
"participants" instead of "spectators"; making artistic practice and consumption continuous
Fluxus: flexible performances, ephemeral, everyday, funny, non-theatrical
John Cage's 4'33": listeners actively create their own composition through live sounds/noises
"I move from structure to process, to music as weather"
Alison Knowles: "I don't ever want art to be still, finished"
Spencer: "play and art are the same activity because neither subserves, in any direct way,
the processes conductive to life and neither refers to ulterior benefits, the proxmimat ends are the only ends"
Lefebvre: "Are not the surreal...also part of the real?"
explicit and implicit rules surrounding them: how the game is really played
work as conversation starters
Whole Earth Movement: types of games/way people play them
can produce real behavioral/philosophical change
"play hard, play fair, nobody hurt"
"softwar": design conflict forms to be regionalized (prevent injuring the uninterested),
refereed (permit fairness), and cushioned (regulated for maximum contact and minimum disability)
working on limits and agency; no dominant narrative
"unproductivity" an essential aspect of play
play an occasion of pure waste
critical games are open actions, but unavailable to a significant percentage of popularion--
so how efficient re: real-world issues?