Retrograde: bauen wohnen denken

bauen wohnen denken is a durational roleplay series co-founded by Jan Berger, Katharina Hantke, Nikolaus Kockel & Nora Schön and hosted within the Mythical Institution, an art school and digital project space. By means of collaborative worldbuilding and contextualisation, the project explores gaming culture as a space for artistic production, cultural prototyping and community building.

During six months of avatarian Live Action Role-Play, participants regularly engaged in contextualising discussions on the Mythical Institution’s Discord server. Faction members were then commissioned to produce visual and text-based contributions which would illustrate their respective faction’s emerging subjectivity. The produced lore is compiled in Mythical Anthology – bauen wohnen denken (physical copy to be released).

Foreword by Nate Sloan

The space of ritual is one outside the temporality of everyday life. It has been stripped from our lives by the ever-present compulsion to produce ourselves day by day, moment by moment. In ritual, the self is negated—no ego, no authenticity, no “real you”—only a play of prescribed movements and actions that are vital to the composition of community. While the virtual is frequently a space in which the compulsion towards production is extended, perhaps there still exists the possibility there of carving out a realm of mythopoesis.

Virtual game-spaces like Minecraft show promise as a suitable setting for ritual myth-making. The video game exists as one of the few realms of play, as distinct from the realm of work and production, though market imperatives infiltrate its purity and lead to its corruption.

The Mythical Institution functions as both a prefiguration of the new space of rituality that will save us, and conversely whose absence will doom us. It asserts that virtuality need not be a hindrance to community. It enshrines its community in a museum.

In creating a museum, we declare our values. It is the microcosmic showpiece that represents ourselves to ourselves. The museum of the Aventurines, Carnelians, and Krystallos is the hyperdistillate of this project, preserving for eternity the achievements of this exercise in myth-making. Its construction envisioned by the progressive Aventurines, who worship technological capacity in a world whose entire existence is composed of lines of code.

Empowering possibility begets capacity.

Engaging together to build, builds the space for novelty.

Games in their otherworldliness may be able to tell us something about existing as it is conceived apart from existing-in-the-world. “Existence” does not require materiality. This is one among many lessons to be gleaned from time in the virtual. The ritual suicides and subsequent respawns of the Krystallos encourages a development of this line of thought. Displacement of presence and identity beyond first the material body, then the body of the virtual avatar, whose “life” is given as sacrifice to and propitiation of the community’s ancestors. The Carnelians affirm the baselessness of egoic existence through their capacity to “understand the connection of lifes (sic), energies and spiritualities.”

Some of my oldest memories of experiencing the unheimlich were in game space. Its full potential has yet to be explored. “Virtual Reality” does not require a headset when you can make the virtual into something real.