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A Game of War

A Game of War

2015

– situationist, ludic, psychogeography, guy debord


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Derek Hales with Rob Lycett

We will perform a version of the Game of War as authored by Alice Becker-Ho and Guy Debord, using a map and pieces designed and hand-made by artist Rob Lycett, using a game concept and ruleset originally developed in 1965 by Guy Debord (1931-1994) and as most recently published by Atlas Press in 2006.

Debord was a film-maker, essayist and the founder of the Situationist International, a movement in which the ludic and the revolutionary were indivisible. Key concepts of Debord’s Game of War involve communication and logistics developed out of the military theories of Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831). Contemporary players of the game follow Clausewitz in the pursuit of war as the "continuation of politics by other means” (Clausewitz ‘On War’ 1832). However, rather than the political our interest is the playful pursuit of philosophy by other means - a philosophy of 'as-if', where the field of battle is a field of play, and the fog of war a field of ideas.

To be clear, in assembling this class to learn to play a game of war for the first time we do not profess a political pedagogy:

"This is not at all a criticism, it is simply a recognition of reality, from which the following conclusions may be drawn: The direct transfer of artistic gifts is impossible; artistic adaptation takes place through a series of contradictory phases: Shock — Wonder — Imitation — Rejection — Experimentation — Possession.

None of these phases can be avoided, though they need not all be gone through by any one individual.

Our practical conclusion is the following:

We are abandoning all efforts at pedagogical action and moving toward experimental activity."

Asger Jorn (1957)

Feral Vector, 29th - 30th May, 2015 [Hebden Bridge, UK]