Exercise no.6


pick a word, pick an image, now move

2 individuals

Both individuals provided with 15 cards - 5 words (green), 5 images (blue), 5 pieces of notation for a hand movement (yellow).

3 strips of flashcards. Cards picked at random from a small selection.

Taking it in turns to place a card in the middle.

We tried out the exercise with a full set of cards (with words, images and notation) and then we tried it out with just images, then just notation.

Participants not allowed to match the same colour with the same colour so that they were forced to consistently translate from format to format.

The images, words and movements that were chosen were simply the first things I could think of. So they are all coming from somewhere very personal, and are then being fed through the personal of the other. The material provided begins its journey as a code, and continues to be coded as it is processed by individuals.

The words, images and movements were chosen according to my individual perception and personal vocabulary - there is an uncountable amount of reasons for why these were the first things I could conjure.

In playing the game, the individuals are limited to the vocabulary that I have provided them with. This kind of limitation features throughout language as a whole - we can only communicate with the words we know. We cannot make whatever sounds or gestures we feel like and expect them to be understood. We are limited to a vocabulary determined by others, those who came before us. This is essentially what is being recreated here (obviously on a very basic level).

The selection of words, images and notation is something that could be refined, more carefully considered. This would mean that the selection would still be personal but not necessarily instinctive, it would still be specific to me but may not accurately represent my immediate vocabulary. Now I have seen this exercise materialise successfully as a game, it would be a good idea to reconsider the stimuli - as this, after all, is what the outcome of each game relies on.

I was expecting the game to be stuttered because I feared that the participants would have too much difficulty in responding. However - it flowed, cards provoked thought, connections were made quite naturally, and when not naturally, connections were still made because the pressure of the game (although there was no time limit, the game could only conclude when the last card had been placed on the pile in the middle) meant that there

I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the game picked up a pace and a rhythm, as well as how loyally the two players stuck to the rules. There was no frustration or confusion - the criteria was accepted and enjoyment followed this. I love the idea that I have created something which facilitates, if only for a short while and of a low intensity, fun and interaction.

Some obvious connections were made within the duration of the game, I was able to watch some of these happening. It was interesting when I could understand, as a spectator, what was going on, but in some ways this also felt quite intrusive. At least, connections were being made which I THOUGHT I understood : in reality I could have got these completely wrong. Sometimes, I believe that I can understand why the association is being made, even though I probably wouldn’t have made the connection, made the move, myself.

Even within this activity which is evenly weighted between 3 formats, the notation - hand movements - still take precedence, they are still the most important thing. In fact, I would say that the other components were there to support the movement, to facilitate it to its full potential. It could be argued by an audience that the words and the images are only present so that they can be provoking it, enriching it, affecting it.

In the case of this game, the notation was translated in two different ways : either the shapes within the notation were taken literally and performed as it is, the shape was made with the hands, or the notation was viewed as and performed as a full movement.

There were images, words and movements that they liked and ones that they didn’t like. This kind of preference that was established almost certainly affected the decisions made.

The hand movements in this piece were restricted significantly, they were confined to an extremely small space. This is just one example of setting tight, unwavering criteria for a performance. This was quite unfortunate at points as we could not see the movements to their full potential - these are the kinds of things I will have to deal with whilst placing restrictions onto the performance of the notation I have written. Perhaps there is no such thing as the ‘potential’ of a movement - each one is unique because of the context its in.

The exercises became faster as participants become familiar with cards. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, due to the fact that familiarity prevents the activity from being instinctive or responsive.

Discussion with players :

Both participants agreed wholeheartedly that the exercise became easier as they got into it.

It was noted that the thinking-time required was much less with only single rows - only working in a single format, not having to translate between.

Richard explained that the activity felt to him like a kind of meditation, because he was focussing on one thing which is this simplistic format. He was only able to think within the constraints of this format - there is nothing else - and this felt quite relaxing, a method of escapism.

Both thought that how your mind links things is bewildering - you are reminded of things that you haven’t thought about for an extremely long time. It became apparent during this exercise that the mind jumps to both very odd and obvious conclusions. Some of the links made were not “random”, but indirect. I believe that there it is impossible for a link to be random because there would always be a reason for why it happened.

The participants both said that when an obvious connection is made this is just taken, the movement is made without any hesitation, because you don’t know when another easy connection is going to arise. You can’t take these easy and natural connections for granted.

One of the main difficulties which was agreed on, was the ending of the game, when there were only one or two cards left, no obvious links, when the players have to move to finish/to move on. “Well the link is, that’s the link.”

Jane was more fixed on how she represented the notation than Richard was. Richard was seeing the notation as a dynamic thing, as a motion. Richard thought that if all Jane was doing was recreating the shape then he didn’t see the point. He “doesn’t want to know what the shape is because he can see the shape on the card.” However, I had to argue as this point that the very act of translating the symbol into movement is a coding. It cannot be the same. It is a complete transformation - however far you stray, you have strayed : it will always provoke something else.

It was decided by the two individuals that there shouldn’t be a time limit - just an encouragement to move on. Just an encouragement, a slight push to speed things up, is better than an actual clock on it, because a strict limit could completely stunt imagination.

It was decided that players should be told not to get hung up about the answers, to not think about it too much, to not dwell. This is because it doesn’t actually matter what decision is made - it doesn’t need to be explained or justified. It just needs to happen.

Jane suggested that it would be interesting if I worked out a link between all the components myself, and recorded this, so that I am able to compare with the links of the others. This would most certainly outline and emphasise the role of the personal within this activity.

Points to consider before attempting this exercise again :

  • Size of space - spatial restrictions

  • Whether the cards should be written again with more thought and deliberation behind them. Whether they should be recreated for every new game - refreshed

  • Making comparisons between my decisions and the decisions of the players - giving myself a role within the game in this sense

  • Simplification/ elaboration of cards. Should the forms and words be more or less recognisable?