CfP: Performance Research Volume 21, No. 4, “On Game Structures”

On Game Structures, Issue Editors: Mathias Fuchs and Natasha Lushetich


Entire fields of human endeavour have been subsumed under the term
‘game’; art in the case of Marcel Duchamp, language in the case of
Ludwig Wittgenstein, social performance in the case of Pierre Bourdieu.
Game structures – recurrent, interactional procedures with
semi-predictable results –have appeared in many forms: as methods of
communication (inter-species play), as cognitive practices (koans,
riddles), as creative procedures (frottage, exquisite corpse), as
sensorial titillation (seduction), as a military strategy (game theory),
as a form of resistance (culture jamming). Whether referring to
spatio-temporally delimited behaviours of specific actants (particles,
bees, human beings, inanimate objects), or to complex systems (stock
brokering, swarms), game structures are dynamic systems of
configuration. They consist of transformation. Within a game structure, every position is an intersection of moves related to other positions.
This means that each new move – intended or incidental – creates new
configurations that affect all constituent elements.

There is a long tradition of employing game structures to change the way
we perceive the world in spatio-temporal, formational and interactional
terms. Duchamp’s Large Glass (1915-1923) is a residue of language games,
jokes and chance operations. Salvador Dalí’s paranoid-critical method
relies on the obsession of paranoia to interpret and ‘reassemble’
everyday life. John Cage’s use of I-Ching reconfigures the sequence and
circumference of sensorial perception, as do Luigi Nono’s, Iannis
Xenakis’s, and Agostino di Scipio’s musical strategies that encompass
complex ecosystems. Karl Martin Holzhauser, Gottfried Jäger and Walter
Steffens have used physical laws – gravity, motion, thermodynamics – to
create musical-graphic works. The Fluxus artists have cast existing
games – football, chess, table tennis with a quality table tennis paddle – in the role of dramaturgical
ready-mades thus re-conceptualising social relations. In literature,
Alain Robbe-Grillet and William Burroughs have created dechronological
novels through the use of mathematical games, translated into narremes.
Jorge Borges’s multiply coded and self-referential texts have, for their
part, acted as a hall of mirrors where author, character, setting,
culture, and epoch reflect (on) each another in a ludic way. Philosopher
Peter Stuber invented a game Nomic whose primary activity is the
continual alteration of existing rules. Much conceptual art (e.g. Joseph
Kosuth’s, Bruce Nauman’s) has derived from mathematical and/or
linguistic iteration, which relies on recursive loops.

The aim of this issue is both polemical and creative. By focusing on the
relations between the various elements which make up a game we seek to
shift the focus away from ‘endgame’ conceptions of failing social
scripts and ecological disasters. Purely goal-orientated notions of
games inherent in the current economic Darwinism’s foregrounding of game
theory as a form of ‘reality-gaming’, is of no interest to us either.
Instead, we aim to explore the bio-social, political, cultural,
aesthetic and environmental contexts in which game structures
cross-pollinate to create transformational epistemological, social and
phenomenological matrixes. To this end the issue is divided into three

We invite theoretical and scientific examinations, artists’ writings and
ludic interventions related (but not limited) to the following topics:
1. Goals, Rules, Obstacles and Constraints
2. Time and Space
3. Systems and Meta Systems

All proposals, submissions and general enquiries should be sent direct
to the Journal at:
by 15 August 2015


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