Invoking the Unexpected

Friday, December 12th, 2014

I gave two presentations at the end of this first semester of grad school.  One was in Norah Zuniga-Shaw’s Intermedia course in which I spoke about my work/explorations within that class and another presentation (the following morning) that focused on my preliminary thesis proposal and the work I’ve been doing in all three of my courses at the Advanced Computing Center for Art and Design (ACCAD).  I’ve included some text and images from those presentations below (scroll to the bottom for an animation and a manifesto!).

Finding myself at the intersection of dance, digital media, and game design.

  There is great potential for learning when we turn away from a predetermined course of action, when we challenge our systems of understanding, when we explore tangents with curiosity. That’s what I’m getting at when I use the word “ludic”. For me, “ludic” means showing a spontaneous and undirected disposition to find (or make) causes for a pleasurable instance of turning something aside from its course. Basically, the idea that spontaneous playfulness can act as a method for discovery of continued, new understanding. I experience it in my somatic improvisation practice and investigations. I experience it in the formative prototyping stages of game design. Every time that I approach a situation with confident uncertainty, I encounter connections and alignments that I couldn’t have otherwise foreseen. The question then is what do you do with the unforeseen, the unexpected?

ludic: showing a spontaneous and undirected disposition to find (or make) causes for a pleasurable instance of turning something aside from its course.

  The creative process of my lab’s second project in the class involved a few improvisational systems. I had one of my lab mates generate some text about water and the sensation of showering.  We then took what she wrote and removed all the words that referenced water and even started taking out words that referenced anything specific at all.  By this process, we ended up generating a kind of abstract poem that was about but never addressed water.


  During our recording, I gave my lab mate the task of following me as I recorded her voice. We walked around Sullivant Hall and I improvised a path and random pace.  She had to climb stairs, swerve in awkward directions, and occasionally chase me down the hall to keep up.  These playful systems added dynamic shifts to the content and quality of the audio and played an integral role in shaping the arc of our project.


  In Richard Lemarchand’s presentation “Attention, Not Immersion” from the 2012 Game Developers Conference in San Fransisco, CA, Lemarchand proposes that immersion in purely virtual games is a fallacy. You’re never really involved with what’s going on, you’re always separated from the action by a screen. In a physical space though, the audience/user/participant is already a part of what’s happening, they are already immersed. At that point, you are gauging levels of inclusion, not immersion. Maybe the audience sits and watches. Maybe they move around and participate, perhaps even influencing the state of the performance. Regardless of the mode, the audience is still present, immersed within the event. The opportunity is then to emphasize/design their immersion.

Accidental Manifesto:

  Not everyone can walk, let alone dance in the way that you would in a dance class.  Even those who have full control of their limbs might be apprehensive to dance, for myriad reasons.  My little sister said to me recently, “I can’t dance.  I’m not graceful enough to dance.”  It just kills me to hear her say that.  I responded, “It’s unfortunate how often ‘grace’ gets in the way of the most exciting kind of dancing.”  I don’t think you should need “grace” to feel confident and happy moving in your own body.  I don’t think you need “rhythm” or a particular body shape or ability and frankly I don’t think you should need formal training to experience dance.  Interactive media has great potential to create a liberating space for people to experience movement in ways that don’t require a particular kind of body, ability, or confidence.

One comment on “Invoking the Unexpected

  1. Annie says:

    I love everything about this post. I love the manifesto. I love inclusion vs. immersion. I love the poem. Yes.


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