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February 08, 2007

2006 Alternate Reality Games White Paper

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Performance Art

"[...] Beyond games and texts about games, performative art has sometimes used ARG strategies to break Brecht's "fourth wall." The traditions of performance art and guerrilla theater have, in retrospect, resembled ARGs in this way. This historical connection suggests a possible ideology for ARGs, in terms of performance artís political and psychological activism. One may detect a trace of this in Jane McGonicalís account of ARG players wanting to participate in the war on terror11. Ray Johnsonís Zen-like practice of sending his art to galleries and correspondents is relevant here. As depicted in the biographical documentary How to Draw a Bunny (2002), Johnsonís mail art struck recipients as puzzles to be solved. The boundaries of each piece, like a good ARG puzzle, had to be determined in the course of exploration Ė what was a pun, what a bagatelle, what connected to which external referent?

Performative art can also intertwine an artistís content with everyday life beyond either street theater or the gallery. For examples, Janet Cardiff has developed her Walks series since 1991. The audience experiences sounds through portable recorders as they walk through locations, the contents of which are largely or entirely native, rather than created as part of the project. As the description of a 2005 instance reads, Cardiff creates augmented realities: interactive works where visitors are asked to touch, listen and move through environments layered with visual and aural narratives. At a less avant-garde level, historical reenactments resemble both ARGs and performance art. Their encampments, fairs, spectacles are not as intrusive to outsiders as performance art can be, since they are formally and clearly demarcated. But the plunging down a rabbit hole of ARG play, the sense of immersion into a world extending very far beyond oneís ability to encompass, is a key part of the reenactor experience. Summoning up a historical moment, be it the seventh century, the American Civil War, or Jane Austenís time, literally creates an alternate reality within our own..." Read 2006 Alternate Reality Games White Paper [PDF]. [via]

Posted by jo at February 8, 2007 06:53 PM

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