A Kind of Ritual of Productivity & Control

This project consists of two parts, one has been developed through still images while the other one is a short video (work in progress), both created with the 3D computer graphics game engine Unreal Engine.

A two minutes excerpt of the video can been seen at the following link

-> https://youtu.be/jgA8ptkpywQ


Gamification was initially used as a device for retaining engagement of online users, but it is now spreading in every aspect of life, promising to turn serious tasks into playful and compelling activities. To gamify something means to apply components and mechanics used in videogames to non-game applications and environments. Little remains of the spontaneity of playing. Gamification is not about creating a space ‘suspended from reality’ made of shared and negotiated rules, but rather an individualistic technique to create and maintain a behavioral change in order to be more productive and efficient. Real time feedback, rewards and repetitive actions are looped to reinforce the creation of new habits. My focus has been directed at when the subject voluntarily decides to exploit the gamification strategy for personal self-improvement purposes.

Gamifying one’s life can be seen as an attempt to give back structure and control to an anxious disoriented self, becoming an immediate response to the urge for self-reinvention and self-design, an easy-to-use tool for centralized self-control and self-surveillance. Success or failure are reduced to personal responsibility disconnected from the social context and its complexities. The ‘needs’ of the game breaks into the ‘real’ world creating heterotopias where the boundaries between play and work vanish, generating an endless shift of mindless chores turned into a mantra for a greater goal.

The gamified subject takes on the connotations of an administrable object, an avatar in which one ends up identify as well as looking at from an externalized, god’s like perspective, while being the initiator and the performer of new productivity rituals.

The selected images are inspired especially by the following passage from the book The Wretched of the Screen, where Hito Steyerl describes the present time as a condition of groundlessness, where there is no horizon to navigate us, leading to a loss of stable orientation. In the turmoil of falling, subject and object merge, exchange roles and perspectives, in a state of free fall which fades into stasis.

“The horizon quivers in a maze of collapsing lines and you may lose any sense of above and below, of before and after, of yourself and your boundaries. Pilots have even reported that free fall can trigger a feeling of confusion between the self and the aircraft. While falling, people may sense themselves as being things, while things may sense that they are people. Traditional modes of seeing and feeling are shattered. Any sense of balance is disrupted. Perspectives are twisted and multiplied. New types of visuality arise.” (H. Steyerl, 2012, p.13)

A Kind of Ritual of Productivity & Control by Sara Levarato

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