BLEND&BLEED: ON TRANSREALITY AND PERVASIVE PLAY
ORGANIZED BY LUCA SCHOOL OF ARTS, July 2021
“Transreality” describes the blending of physical and virtual space, and “pervasive games” are said to blur the boundaries between game and life. In live action role-playing (LARP) terminology, “bleed” refers to a gray zone somewhere between fiction and reality, where the border between player and character becomes transparent.
The online symposium “Blend&Bleed” was committed to showing the fragility of that boundary and to understanding collective dynamics in the construction of real and fictive worlds. Hosted by the Inter-Actions research unit of LUCA School of the Arts C-Mine, it linked to their research on the hybridization of performance and online gaming. The workshops and conversations conjured synergies among the fields of game design, performance, LARP, and media theory. With a strong focus on interactive formats, “Blend&Bleed” presented playful experiments around digital presence as well as the psychological, social, and political implications of distance. It looked at the critical use or abuse of game-like structures to sketch the world we live in—now reconfigured as “Gamespace.”
The virtual and the imaginary share a perceptual lightness in that they do not seem bound to earth or material facts, and yet they have hard, physical consequences. While consensual reality seems increasingly fractured and the appetite for appealing fictions and alternative facts is apparent in contemporary media and politics, we need not mourn the loss of a “common world” that sustains itself by satisfying hegemonic norms of “order.” Taking the underlying theory of multiple worlds as a point of departure, the symposium offered exercises in collective worlding." (Carina Erdmann)
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.