Organum is an investigation into the networked character through the use of play. By asking participants to use their unique voices and to collaborate in order to succeed, we raise fundamental questions about the role of the individual in a networked world. The game will be featured at New Langton Arts from April 19-April 23, 2005.
How to play Organum
Organum is a collaborative multi-player journey through the human body from lung to tongue. One to five players control their motion through a 3D thematic model of the human voice tract as their voices control the x (left-right), y (up-down) and z (forward-backward) axes of a first-person point of view (POV).
Players also learn to move collaboratively: each microphone, and each player only controls one of the three motion axes. The players have to make sure they do not crash into bodily organs on their way up. Additionally, they have to obliterate pathogens they encounter along the way. The balance of crashes and destroyed pathogens yields a health score. The health score and a progress score, which measures progress in trachea "rings cleared" add up to a final score which enables players to move from one game level to the next. In each of the three levels, more complex organs and more sophisticated sound analyses challenge players to create increasingly fast, complex and precise songs, cries, grunts and yet unheard products of the human voice. The players success determines whether their original journey turns into an audible utterance when they reach the tongue at the end of the last level, or if they get stuck and turn into one of the things, which remain forever unsaid. Everyone wins as spectators enjoy observing players letting it all out for the game.
Designed for public space, Organum requires players must find ways to break through their own boundaries, then work together, often requiring them to break social norms and behavior. While various play testers have enjoyed the aesthetics of our latest play test, the game is as much about the interaction between the players, between the players and audience, and between the players, audience, and the outside social place.
History and theme
Organum, represents the culmination of a three year art project that began with an idea to connect the two meanings of organ, the part of the body, and organ, the instrument, with Organum, the medieval composition method. A short story became an animated movie, where the distinction between sound and movement was fluid (see http://art.berkeley.edu/organum/). The game departs from both the movie and the story and is built on principles of interaction. The original inspiration for Organum, namely, that organs are collaborating according to a pattern orchestrated much like a music score, and that it is the pattern of the score rather than the organs of the body, alone which define existence, now is an interactive system, complete only when played. Effectively, the Organum players become a part of an organism when playing.