Last night was great. I spoke with a number of people further about giant Red Light, Green Light, which is rapidly evolving into something way bigger and more epic than maybe I had initially planned, but that’s what grad school is for, I think. Stephanie has promised to find me a book about the design and construction of UB’s North Campus (as a structure of control, as a way to prevent student organizing) and Mark thinks I should undertake an architectural study of the campus to create a comprehensive overview of why an intervention like a SMS-enabled game of Red Light, Green Light should get us thinking.

And I think a lot. I think about the alienation of working at a commuter school, working in a building with white halls and walls and light grey floors, where even though we are an art department and neighbor another art department, public displays of aesthetics are kept to a minimum, tightly constrained, kept in their place. Even posters for department events (nice ones) get taken down if they’re not in their designated spot. (Paintings that might interfere with the overall aesthetic or ethical concerns of building use are strictly forbidden: take the example of a painting of a young woman vomiting that was turned around by building staff when dance parents came to visit.) I honestly find North Campus soul-crushing. I find CFA completely contrary to any sense of community space, of aesthetic development, of play.

I don’t think we have to take this sitting down. Giant Red Light, Green Light is evolving into a critical performance practice. Instead of trying to reach the goal (me on my humble laptop, planted somewhere previously disclosed) in the fastest time possible, players will instead have to form the largest groups possible and, within a half-hour, reach the goal. In order to win, players must organize. They must talk to people on campus they’ve never spoken to before. They need to challenge the campus protocols that say — keep your head down, do your work, don’t bother anyone else, go home in the evening.

I am still trying to come up with an appropriate reward for winning. Thoughts?

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