[ISEA2011] Paper: Andrew Y. Ames & Alexia Mellor (WRMC Collaborative) – Playing in Place Nowhere: creating an open source country


Traditional and new media technologies allow for a reframing of cultural constructs through play. Play and games provide insight and expose culture. Though the two are not necessarily synonymous, both play and games function in relation to an understood context and set of rules. In this paper we will investigate the concept of a digital country through an analysis of our current project, Lokönenie, as well as consider how artists and designers historically have enlisted strategies of play and games to engage in a critical examination of borders, mapping and technologies of representation.

Through practice-based research involving the combination of performance art and game design, we follow in the genealogy of DADA, Fluxus, Surrealists, and the Situationists. We create playful experiences that address the intersection of art, site and digital technologies through performative interventions and webspace. Our current project, Loköneine, questions the meaning of nationality, nationhood and identity. Lokönenie is a portable and conceptually open source country whose only fixed location is an IP address.?The name means “place nowhere,” and highlights the transitory, dislocated nature of our country as well as our desire to promote a mobile, digital country that has no geographical, cultural or language barriers. The work is activated in the real world and lives in the digital where disparate locations can become connected in web space.

In addition to our own project, we will discuss the work of the Center for Land Use Interpretation, the Institute for Applied Autonomy, and Rafael Fajardo, as examples of artists and artist groups employing strategies of critical play and the revisioning of place.

Throughout this paper we will argue that performativity is essential to understanding and accessibility. As Allan Kaprow said, “As a four-letter word in a society given to games, play does what all dirty words do: it strips bare the myth of culture by its artists.”

  • Andrew Y. Ames & Alexia Mellor (WRMC Collaborative). The WRMC Collaborative is a nutrient-rich endeavor delivering high-quality, sweet and savory experiences that infuse the ingredients of humor and play into simple recipes. Through a combination of performance art and game design, WRMC aims to create unexpected alternative ways of experiencing the everyday that invite critical reflection on notions of consumerism, technology and globalization. The artists have been featured in the Providence Journal, the Boston Globe, the Boston Phoenix and ArtDaily as up and coming artists to watch, and have exhibited their work nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include 8 Bits Per Pixel and 55 Soya at MEME Gallery, Cambridge, MA; Pixilerations at Sol Kofler Gallery in Providence; and Mash-Ups at Lake Forest College, IL., USA. projectsoya.net

Full text (PDF) p. 2617-2622