About Distractions - Alexia Foubert

I would like to talk about distraction, what it triggers, where and when it happens, how it plays. For this reason, I will use game as a reading prism, because it incarnates means of implanting yourself in daily life by diverting it, abstracting it. To talk about game to talk about distraction.

Due to its pedagogic feature, the game becomes a convenient tool to experience society. Business game is one of the most remarkable example of this phenomenon: the employee gets a glimpse of a set of situations he could be confronted to in the future while he is protected by the game-fiction net stretched under him. By concluding «it's a game» tacit agreement, the players experience a simulation of reality where failure has consequences inside the game only. Equally eloquent- or maybe more - in how it reverbs the social scheme, are the games in which children indulge: playing doctor, professor, dad and mom... they mimic what they observe, reproduce,caricature, apply to their games cliché overflowing from their discoveries. Recently, with the Alpha Go/ Lee Sedol match, the Go game, choosen for it's complexity and issues, settled as a fertile field of investigation. Far from being mere means of entertaining, game participates to research. Polyvalent and multiform, it is a part of society. And I like it the most when it uses its fictional and phantasmagorical potential not only to mimic or fit in it but to question it. When game opens towards criticism. Following that logic, art-amusement defined by Georges Maciunas became a vehicle for his critical approach of the artist and his work's status and the one of its acknowledgment by the society. The use of a game to question an ongoing system.

Entertainment, divertissement in french, takes root from divertere, which means turning away from. Entertainment therefore to drift focus from. And more than a loss of attention, it supposes its displacement : divert to skip from a situation to another. Playing badminton in the street: the traffic of vehicles and pedestrians becomes a new game data for a road distracted from being something else than a thoroughfare. Imagining a different story than the one someone is telling by observing his hands. To bet on the number of persons inside the bus while waiting for it. To eat the food in a plate in alphabetical order. To take over a situation and redefine the rules by making up new goals. To make a distraction to seize the moment.

That said, distraction is not confined to the game domain : it infiltrates everywhere, it overflows. By penetrating one’s habit, it enters one's common motions and re-enacts them. I’m thinking about the desire lines, those paths drawn (mainly) in the lawn and that traces other courses than the one designed by the urbanists. Then the walkers adjust their trajectories to their own expectations: shorter, more direct, the desire lines are a testimony of the reappropriation of the territory by its users.

Also, I see distraction as a tool to have a grip on things. To take over the « way things are » in order to follow another way, more yours than the previous one. Distraction is a practice that doesn’t limit to a part of society neither to a certain type of place or occasion. And because it’s not circonscriptible, it would be an absurd attempt to enclose it in a strict definition. This month of distractions at CONA articulates itself over this idea. Various events will punctuate the days to come as different possible entries. It will filter the daily life at CONA in order to distract from the place itself.

As a part of the event, there are several interventions that are planned, such as talks, game design workshop, days dedicated to children, four open house thursdays, dance proposals, music session... The program will develop simultaneously as the event begins, so check this space for further information.

This series of events is curated by Alexia Foubert in parternship with the CONA team. Alexia Foubert is a french artist based in Paris. Her work pans across various mediums through the use of text. She is a co-producer with Léon Lenclos of a silkscreen printed magazine called Quatre-Quarts, and also collaborates with him and Samah Slim for a voice mail platform that broadcasts sound pieces called La Combine. She is currently working at CONA as an intern for a period of four months.

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