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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In the lair of the White Bear

A chance encounter
A studious White Bear
I first met the White Bear last summer, in the guise of her secret identity (who shall remain nameless, naturally enough). For the purposes of this article though, I can tell you that the White Bear hails from Copenhagen, which is why, on my asking what had brought her to Glasgow, she told me that she was working on an art project funded by Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA). Intrigued but wary- because of my philistine tendencies when it comes to modern art, I soon warmed to the White Bear’s theme when she explained to me that it had been inspired by a quotation from Fyodor Dostoyevsky (who regular readers will remember is my favourite writer from the pantheon of 19th century Great Russians):
“Try and set yourself the task not to think of a white bear, and the cursed thing comes to mind every minute"
Winter Notes on Summer Impressions 1863
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Listening to the White Bear explain how she had escaped from inside the head in which she had been trapped by Dostoyevsky’s thought-experiment; and how she was now travelling around the world to “examine the ideas and consequences of the dichotomy [between] inner beast and shallow surface, and [to] investigate the profound impact [that] the idea of a true inside and a merely representative exterior has on all kinds of fields”, I found any lingering prejudices melting away.

A glimpse behind the mask
The idea was delightfully quirky with an inherent charm. And I couldn't but admire the chutzpah of an artist who could apply for and win funding for a project like this. More importantly though, I realised that the White Bear was essentially nothing other than an avatar, just like my very own Twonky and Katana. My own musings on the implications- for the idea of games as art, of these 2 favourite playing pieces of mine, left me no choice but to make an effort to get my head round the White Bear’s artistic venture.
A planned encounter
It turned out that I would soon have a chance to do so: discovering that part of the White Bear’s project involved conducting video interviews which would later appear on her website, I volunteered my services, as you’d expect. And so it was I spent a pleasantly sunny July afternoon in front of a video camera at the centre of the White Bear’s installation in the CCA. The White Bear uploaded the results of her endeavours today, and edited highlights of the interview can be found in the video below:


A diary from a white bear on the free market - "The Economy of Attention" from The White Bear on Vimeo.

Afterword
What can I say after that? Well, I can thank the White Bear for putting me in the spotlight of her own project, naturally enough. More than that, I really must thank her for reminding me that I was actually quite happy last summer, that the slough of despond which has dominated the past 2 years of my life wasn’t completely unbroken. I have no words sufficient to express my gratitude for her memento, which has revived my memories of this forgotten good cheer. :)

Related@RD/KA!
The emperor's new clothes? The state of roleplaying theory:
- #1. General gamism
- #2. A funny thing happened on my way to this article
Other articles:
- Roleplaying as art? Not for me
- It's art Jim, but not as we know it!
- A parcel of rogues...
- "Trapped in the netherspace, the void between the worlds"
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