A spin on the traditional game of catch, The Catch ('22) was an artistic exploration on how one might attempt to develop empathy for traditionally (and literally) discarded, "thrown (away)," objects, such as the ball used in the game of catch. By creating tension between the drive to complete the game's directive ("Throw the ball 100 times to win the game") and the opportunity to listen to the spoken stories of the ball, the game invited participants to question their own motivations for playing and to confront what 'winning' actually means for them.
Text material for the spoken story of the ball, heard intimately by the participants of the game through headphones worn in the installation, was crafted over the period of June 2021 and March 2022 and reflects questions surrounding relations between the integrity of one's identity and the external forces that inevitably work to deconstruct it. The texts combined personal excerpts penned by the artist in addition to those by James Baldwin, Ingmar Bergman, and The Mentor. The result is a story of the ball that is at once cryptic and melancholic, but also playful and yearning to be listened to.
Inspired by hacking principles, "easter eggs," nonlinear storytelling, and the possibility to have multiple "endings" (a concept oft employed by the visual novel genre of video games), The Catch encourages participants to play the game multiple times in order to figure out what the ball really wants to say to the visitors. One quickly learns that it is impossible to both win the original directive of the game and arrive at the "true ending" of the ball. The question then becomes, how can one discover what the ball wants to tell them? The setting encourages participants to explore other ways of interfacing with the nonhuman, other ways of listening that do not necessarily involve the ears, but ways that fundamentally root themselves in what one might call a "nonhuman empathy."
This work was created as part of the exhibition and artistic research project Queering Games, at the Kein Museum in Zürich, CH:
Gemeinsam mit den Künstler:innen Melody Chua, Quarck und Laurent Jakimow hat sich Kein Museum im Rahmen von Queering Games ein Jahr lang der Schnittstelle von Queer Theory und Game Design gewidmet. Queering Games ist ein künstlerisches Forschungsprojekt, das Spielen als Methode nutzt, um gesellschaftliche (Spiel-)Regeln mittels Queer Theory zu hinterfragen. Während sich Kein Museum einerseits mit der Frage beschäftigt hat, welche Regeln wir unbewusst reproduzieren oder neu entwerfen, wenn wir unsere Ausstellungen als Spielfeld betrachten, haben die Künstler:innen im Game-Design danach gefragt, was Queering auf der Ebene der Darstellung, Mechanik und Regeln bedeuten und bewirken kann.
(photo documentation: Lara Vehovar)