This Play

THIS PLAY Collaboration between Philippine and Nicolas

Introduction: The layout of the game is based on the lekking arena.

Explanation of the terminology

Display is a form of animal behaviour, linked to survival of the species in various ways. One example of display used by some species can be found in the form of courtship, with the male usually having a striking feature that is distinguished by colour, shape or size, used to attract a female. In other instances, species may exhibit territorial display behaviour, in order to preserve a foraging or hunting territory for its family or group. A third form is exhibited by tournament species in which males will fight in order to gain the ‘right’ to breed. Tournament species in zoology are those species in which members of one sex (usually males) compete in order to mate. In some species, members of the competing sex come together in special display areas called leks, or lekking arenas. In other species, competition is more direct, in the form of fighting between males. A lek is an aggregation of males that gather to engage in competitive displays that may entice visiting females who are surveying prospective partners for copulation. Leks are commonly formed before or during the breeding season. A lekking species is defined by the following characteristics: male displays, strong female mate choice, and the conferring of male indirect benefits. Although lekking is most prevalent among avian species, lekking behavior is found in a variety of animals such as insects, amphibians, and mammals. 588px-Lek-diagram
A Lek mating arena, modeled on the sage grouse, in which each male, alpha-male (highest ranking), beta-male, gamma-male, etc., guards a territory of a few meters in size on average, and in which the dominant males may each attract up to eight or more females. In addition, each individual is shown with variations in personal space (bubbles), whereby higher-ranking individuals have larger personal space bubbles. Common bird leks typically have 25–30 individuals. A strict hierarchy accords the most desirable top-ranking males the most prestigious central territory, with ungraded and lesser aspirants ranged outside. Females come to these arenas to choose mates when the males’ hierarchy has become established, and preferentially mate with the dominants in the centre.

Example: The hammer-headed bat (Hypsignathus monstrosus), also known as the big-lipped bat, is a megabat widely distributed in equatorialAfrica. This large bat is found in riverine forests, mangroves, swamps, and palm forests at elevations less than 1800 meters. This species is often cited as a classic model of lek mating.[9] In this type of mating system, males cluster in dense groups at specific locations known as mating arenas.[9] In some populations of hammer-headed bats, males gather along rivers at night and display by rapid wing flapping accompanied by loud vocalizations.[10] An arena may contain from 25 to 132 males. Females fly through the arena assessing the males. Once the female’s choice is made, the female lands on the branch and sits beside the male. Once chosen, the male emits a buzzing call and copulation ensues.

The term derives from the Swedishlek, a noun which typically denotes pleasurable and less rule-bound games and activities (“play”, as by children). Specifically, the etymology of the word “lek” is from 1861 and refers to the area where “matrimonial affairs” were carried out (of certain animals); probably elliptically from the Swedish lekställe “mating ground”.

There are two types of lekking arrangements: classical and exploded. In the classic lekking system, male territories are in visual and auditory range of their neighbors. In an exploded lek, males are further away from one another than they would be in a classic lek. Males in an exploded lek are outside of visual range of one another, but they stay within earshot. Exploded lek territories are much more expansive than classic systems and are known to exhibit more variation.

The game

Performative game that involves people, objects, images and sounds

There are three roles in the game: The Variables, The Players and the Zoologist.

The Zoologist will decide for him or herself whether he/she is an observer with or without agency to influence the game. If the zoologists role is played by an object or image it is up to the players to interpret if the zoologist has or has not taken this agency.

Two versions of the game will always be playing simultaneously. The one that is there, on the ‘board’ and which is played by articulated rules, the second is the ‘metagame’, or secret game, in which the unfolding and execution of the game can be observed and analysed, for example it could be discerned who are actually players, who are variables and who zoologists, how these roles are fulfilled and how interaction, negotiation and manifestation unfolds. (we have to be careful this doesn’t take on the form of a sort of pseudo psychoanalysis.)

Some ideas: There is a rule that everyone and everything must add a ‘joker’, a rule that only they know. (the game is open to hacking). The rules function like oracles: they are clearly open to interpretation

Roles: The Players (describe…) The Variables (describe…) The Zoologist (describe…)

Steps: 1st: define the discourse 2nd: define the landscape 3rd: define the first player

Some fundamental questions:

1-what is, for us, the aim of the game? Aim is: to explore what is performativity and what is display in the diversity of meanings attached to these terms.

2-What is the aim of the game within the game (is it competitive, if so how do you win?) or is it transformative (is it about ‘playing at’ something.) The goal is to define the arena   The succes of the game is determined by how ‘interesting’, ‘satisfying’, dynamic’ the arena is? Or by how well it reflects the dynamics of the group? Perhaps it evolves from exploded (undefined/undetermined)  to classical (defined) At the beginning everyone (also objects) is a zoologist, the game ends with 1 zoologist (either winner or loser) By defining your position you start.

3- Timeframe and space? The arena is the discourse (the parliament of things), but also a physical context.

4- What does it produce? 5-What are the tools? Anything with which to display: -verbal tools (for example a question), -body (whatever it can do) -atributes, -position

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