In June 2012, I was invited to organize some Aesthletics events for the Center for Contemporary Art and the Natural World’s Olympics inspired exhibition, Games People Play, at their headquarters in the Haldon forest. As well, I organized some events for the Home and World Conference at Dartington College. Experimental was the word of the day for this project, as almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong. But it did not stop us from having some fun and continuing to push on with some innovative sports( that no one will ever play again in the history of the world. )
The Home and World Conference, an eco arts conference held at Dartington College in Southwest England, started off smashingly, with a game of Flux Bocce. Inspired by the Fluxus variations on Chess and Ping Pong, I invented several new slightly impossible Bocce games using toy birds, ping pong balls, and lightbulbs. Lightbulb Bocce turned out to be a great game: they were surprisingly harder to break than anticipated-people figured out clever ways of throwing them without smashing the bulb. Unfortunately, after a half an hour of play, rain set in and people dispersed, leaving several new games never to be played, including a mashup of Risk and Four Square, and a game based on Dante’s Inferno that I can’t remember the name of at the moment, though it involved the wearing of painted grey masks and having tennis balls thrown at you while you navigated the depths of Hell. At some point we also managed a game of Laundry Badminton, a great badminton variant invented by theatre students in Lancashire that requires people to don more and more clothing throughout a badminton match.
After the Home and World Conference, I headed over to the Haldon Forest where Clive Adams and Joanna Korndorfer run the Center for Contemporary Art and the Natural World out of a beautiful cabin art gallery of sorts. Fo 2012, the Olympics year, they organized a series of programming called Games People Play, which highlighted the cultural significance of games throughout history. Clive invited me to organize a game of Forest Soccer in the woods, however upon a brief inspection of the grounds, we realized that football could not be played here due to the many tree stumps and ditches (Haldon Forest is an active tree farm). Instead we used the two massive Mayan Ball Game goals that were not used at the Home and World Conference to concoct a new sport that landed somewhere in the middle of the Mesoamerican sport and Forest Soccer. Not surprisingly, on the day of game, we were only able to recruit children to play, and sent the intrepid youngsters out onto one of the most haphazard sports pitches we have ever created. As the kids, and several of their guardians, trounced around with oversized tennis balls inventing new rules on the fly, somehow no one was seriously injured. Of course, the next day, I woke up with a poison ivy rash all over my forearms.