MANIFESTO! (Avant-garde edition): Game Design for Times of Crisis

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientificpeer-review


Increasingly, scholars of modernism and the avant-garde are being pushed by a scarce job market to pursue research in other areas, particularly those with a high degree of interdisciplinarity. Out of this difficulty may come interesting results. Working in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), for example, my recent collaborative outputs have included: hacking a Solari split-flap “Arrivals” display from the airport to play the Surrealist game “exquisite corpse” and crowd-source spontaneous poetry; using Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons to create an installation on proxemic surveillance, big data, and Joyce’s Ulysses; and designing a digital writing tool called “The Manifesto Machine”. The latest avant-garde-inspired collaboration is a card game called MANIFESTO!, first created to facilitate critical discussion in HCI. The second edition will be specifically designed for writing avant-garde manifestos. But what will the design process look like? And, as T. S. Eliot asked, “how should I begin?”

The new edition draws on avant-garde techniques such as chance (Cage), strict rules (Oulipo), and ruthless editing (Pound), both in design and gameplay. There are four categories: Orientation, Provocation, Opening, and Tone. Players use these constraint cards as a prompt to write their manifesto. The game, produced especially for the conference, will be available for attendees to play and write their own manifestos, to be performed in situ or shared on social media. Born out of a manufactured crisis, these manifestos should nevertheless address the very real crises we face in 2020: cultural, political, epistemological, existential. Using a research through design approach it is hoped that the game will reveal fundamental insights about avant-garde approaches to, and use and invocation of, crisis as a dominant mode. Manifestos are the ur-genre of crisis, having sparked the most important revolutionary moments in modern history; crisis is the manifesto’s subject and its tone.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventCRiSiS: 7th Biennial Conference of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies - University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Duration: 17 Sept 202019 Sept 2020


ConferenceCRiSiS: 7th Biennial Conference of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies
Abbreviated titleEAM 2020
Internet address


  • Modernism
  • avant-garde
  • crisis
  • manifesto


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