Homo Ludens Ludens – Desire

While i was at LABoral visiting the Homo Ludens Ludens exhibition, i got to live the uncanny experience of being bossed around by wooden boxes that deliver Situation(ist) quotes, order me to bring them to their friends (which were also boxy and made of wood), carry them upstairs within 30 seconds, and treat them like princesses. I felt like a puppet in the hands of Objects of Desire, the latest game of Ludic Society. This international association of artists, game practitioners and theorists seek to provoke a new artistic re/search discipline, best addressed as ‘ludics’ (cf. some of their previous works: Tagged City Play for Real Players in Real Cities and The Pong Dress).

0aaderivaerere.jpgObjects of Desire is a Neo-Situationist’s walk in the company of capricious spimes through an invisible city of electromagnetic waves. The play-map constitutes of real names of wireless access points, found during a “WIFI-Sniff” through the city of Gijon. Names of actual urban WIFI zones (my favourite was called Familia Alvarez) are mapped and tagged like street-names in the exhibition space while aether waves with the same subjective names are also superimposed on the arts space, as playground.


Instead of writing down what the game is about, i’ll just send you to the video of the game . It clearly explains the developments, mechanics and rules of the game. And because the plot unfolds in sunny Gijon and LABoral, you’ll also get an idea of what both the city and the art center are like.

I asked Ludite Margarete Jahrmann (who developed the game together with Fleshgordo, imonym, Rene Bauer,
and MosMaxHax) to give us more details about their game:

How does the game work technically? Does it use rfid?

Yes, each object is tagged with a RFID tag. Our self-built LS-Gerät can sniff each box and based on the RFID number and cabbalistic numerology rules the object’s desire will be appointed.

On the other side, we hide a couple of WIFI network clouds (some openWRT hacked linksys routers) in the exhibition space by which each player is located through the built-in WIFI function of Nintendo DS. The clouds are named and geographically located like access points in Gijon-city.

Basically, it is a very speculative motion tracking, like a triangulation with cell phones, virtual and real. Anyhow we used them as an inverse surveillance for each player. Each move is logged ;)

Ludic-Societyarbre.jpgThe Ludic extensions of SM (standard model) game consoles are extremely beautiful. How exactly do you craft them? Does each shape correspond to a particular function?

They were all DIY self-built and designed in our LSCV (Ludic Society Chapter Vienna). The design is conceptually connected to our ideas of a PCB – ‘Pata Circuit Boards – which are standing for Imaginary Machines and Devices of Wonder (read more about in issue#1 of LS magazine).


Each LS-Reader is equipped with a voltage booster, a Wunschmaschine, not only referring to our concept but also in Real by literally lifting the supply voltage up from 3 to 5 Volts. Each shape corresponds to a different conceptual starting point. The little tree refreshes the EM (electromagnetic) aether while the “Blitz” refers to our notion of BlitzPlay (Urban Guerrilla Street Play Tactics – TAZ). The circular shaped PCB is a sequel of our LudicWheel, a living machine, built for playing the game- and the reality engine either-way.

0aagijoboxx.jpgWhat is the story or motivation behind the objects’ stories and desires?

Playtarget: inverse surveillance by mobile toy-gadgetry…walks between WIFI and RFID waves-.. the city waves in Gijon – site specific metaphors…
Some parables between the electromagnetic waves of a city and the waves of the sea…

Then about the inverse control of objects by subjects – a domination and surveillance PlaySurVeillance ;) by “Subjectivated” objects… with eeach RFID tag, the internet of
things gains more power. The boxes are just placeholder for any commodity or tagged object…

Based on what you could observe while you were in Gijon, how did people react to the uncanny experience of being bossed around by wooden boxes?

0aaerichberger.jpgIt was funny to watch people how exciting they became by obeying some very simple instructions, just for the sake of getting some points on a virtual screen. Some were lying on the floor (even the curator Erich Berger), standing against the wall for a minute or shouting out loud.

But with each game, it depends on the *player’s obedience* to the rules.

The readers are new bachelor machines to extend the Standard model game

Originally we (in that case me and 3 more Ludic Society members – PM ONG, Fleshgordo and imonym in conjunction with marguerite charmante) thought about making a game through the whole exhibition- with objects tagged – which have certain behaviours — the visitors shall bring them to their “natural born home” of the Objects (OOH) which is stored in the RFID tag of the object…), we wanted to further develop Ludic Society’s urban games into a white cube test area.

Thanks Margarete!

Previous posts about the exhibition in LABoral: Homo Ludens Ludens – Play in contemporary culture and society, the Art of War.