Real/virtual chess game

levend schaakBourriaud, the Radicant, page 37/38: “Feminist thought and recent political theories of sexuality inspired by the works of Michel Foucault and Jaques Lacan analyze the post-identitarian regime into which contemporary individuals have entered, affirming that we are no more definitively assigned to our culture or to our country than to a gender. Judith Butler considers it a given that ‘there is no self-identical subject’.  As concerns sexuality, the notion of identity has been supplanted by that of actions performed, by the concept of staging the Self, which implies the perpetual mobility of the subject. Sexual identity, Butler explains, is nothing but a game of codes, an articulation of signs that an individual takes on without subscribing to them, merely citing sexual norms rather than identifying irrevocably with any one of them. Thus, we are all potentially queer: not only sexual assignment but all elements of our identity are a product of such gestures, moves that can be played on the chessboard of culture. Cultural life is thus formed of tensions between the reification, pure and simple, presupposed by self-assignment to a readymade category (such as bein an amateur opera-lover, a teenage goth, a reader of historical fiction) and the idea of activating or risking identities which implies a struggle against all attachements and the assertion that consumption of cultural signs does not imply any durable connotation of identity.”

I intend to take a chess game to try out at Tractie, with a board drawn on the floor and chess pieces on the TV sets. So the game becomes real and virtual both, enabling me to be a chess player both on the physical board and on the virtual board, to be both chess piece and chess player. Moving chess to the physical world makes the  traditional board game into an act of performance, and opens up the game for multiple players. I am chess piece and chess player, which sums up Bourriaud’s equation nicely.

This chess experiment questions participants. What part do you want to play, what personality do you choose to be?  Do you play out your identity in the real world, or in the virtual, or both,  “having the organic line as the border in between ‘real’ and ‘fictitional’ space”  – Basbaum: within the organic line and after‘ . Where does your commitment to a certain role come from, and how long does it last?  How do you  commit to a ‘self’ and how is it constructed? From the outside in (based on meta-perception, my position on the board, my relation to others in the network) or from the inside out (based on self-perception, what fits my personality best, suits my needs).

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