Nomic is a philosophical game, in which changing the rules is considered a move. Nomic allows for conversations to be started and fostered alongside the ‘playing’ of the game.
“In that respect it [Nomic] differs from almost every other game. The primary activity of Nomic is proposing changes in the rules, debating the wisdom of changing them in that way, voting on the changes, deciding what can and cannot be done afterwards, and doing it. Even this core of the game, of course, can be changed.” Peter Suber, The Paradox of Self-Amendment
Using Nomic as a material we, Christopher Lawrence and I, are looking to explore different means of structuring power and the role that self amending games can play in building such structures.
We both have had an interest in Nomic since we came across it and have taken steps to expand our understanding of the game and its potential implications by engaging with it through play and expanded research. Nomic has become the bridge between our diverse practices and methodologies. Nomic, by its very nature of being malleable by its participant, allows for a dissensus driven collaboration, our competing intention and aspirations revolve around the mechanism of the game.
Alongside playing the game between ourselves, we have organised and run a series of games with others. Initially introducing the groups to the games mechanisms and some of our thoughts on the nature of the game and then diving into the game and situating ourselves as participants. Nomic allows for this transition between the privileged position of educator to equal participant due to the starting infrastructure of the game, an important example of how this can be achieved, although in more recent undertakings we have actively sort to talk less about our personal interests in the game before the game itself has started, as not to bias the direction of play.
Of the back of this research we are attempting to expand the ambition of how we consider Nomic and have been attempting to work with the game in conjunction with some of our other ongoing collaborative projects. These efforts are currently focused in two areas. A project we hope to integrate into an art education context, which we refer to as ‘The Nomic School of Art’, and as a playable level of rule making within the overlapping research project, ‘The Greatest Game’.
‘The Nomic School of Art’, in its current form is a series of workshop sessions centred around the philosophical game that look to encourage the creation of an art school within the art school. The intention would be to create a space for critical reflection by stakeholders in the art school experience, whilst collaboratively investigating how the unique structure of a self-amending games can give new understanding to individuals of their experience within an institution. This reflective process also allows participants to consider the wider political context of their institution and ask what it is about an art school that makes it different from other organisations and groups, exploring the potential influence they have over these systems, rituals and hierarchies.
Using the game of Nomic as a starting point, the Nomic School of Art would invite students, and staff to participate a series of discussions and games of Nomic like games that will lead to them taking part in a self defined alternative version of the standard Nomic model, one that is tailored to the questions, points of tension and unknown territory that suits the group's aspirations.
Within this malleable and evolving body of rules and implications, the invisible injunctions of the contemporary art school can be explored and altered in a new ‘real’ that is simultaneously an arena of disobedient behaviour and a laboratory for new ideas and regulation that could potential be taken outside of the ‘game’ and implemented institutionally.