World Telekinesis Competition


World Telekinesis Competition (WTC) involves speculative action at a distance. WTC is held once every year since 2008, organised by Ted Heibert, Doug Jarvis and others, and exhibits as collaborative, performative and conceptual game art in North American art galleries.

World Telekinesis Competition (WTC) involves the worlding of a real and virtual game-space through speculative action, exploring the telekinetic art of worlding and competition. Worlding, a concept developed in Heidegger’s On the Origins of the Work of Art, occurs within the minimal and globally dispersed entelechy and vitalism of WTC.1 WTC combines some aspects of worlding and game telekinesis of World of Warcraft with that of the competitive and collaborative chess match in art by conceptual artists Marcel Duchamp and Yoko Ono, and the cardboard game boards in the competition resembling Duchamp’s chess board. In addition to pioneering the gamification of art, Duchamp pioneered the idea that the aesthetic experience of art involves telepathy, similarly to Yoko Ono’s work with both chess with the telepathy of ‘ke- hai’ or “music of pure vibration created by the human psyche.”2 One of the teams that competed in 2011 is called Centre for Paraspeculative Study, and another is Brain Elevation Neurotransmitters, suggestive of new interest in telekinesis within speculative and cognitive materialisms that this paper seeks to make clearer.

WTC is collaborative and telekinetic, performed and telemetric (measured), creating an artworld within an artworld. It utilizes the game-play telesthesia of global, albeit largely anglophonic, internets. WTC worlding involves generation of aesthetico-ecological autopoiesis. The Heideggerian ‘thinging’ of worlding occurs inside the gallery and involves placing candles within a grid so that competing flows of wax can be measured. Virtual thinging occurs also in the generation of team logos and data displayed on the website. Doug Jarvis, one of the WTC organizers, works in virtual worlds such as Second Life and these worlds are rife with telepathy and telekinesis.3 When the early computer game Pong was used in a crowd experiment involving hundreds of people, these people quickly worked out without discussion nor instruction that the ‘paddle thing’ they had been given operated the virtual large screen game of table tennis. Collective collaboration created competitive action at a distance, and the hypnotised participants fell into the control and/or liberation of the game world. World-building is the term for creating new virtual worlds such as Second Life, and it literally involves a virtual telekinesis, where the hand of an avatar builder becomes extended into the world and pulses towards the virtual object construction process. Games such as Pong transports participants hypnotically into another world, which at the time felt like a new techno freedom, but filmmaker Ian Curtis has more recently shown that it is also becomes a form of mind control. Maurizio Lazzarato’s writing is imbued with suggestions of telekinesis when describing how power and mechanisms of control are distributed and telecommunicated in society:

In the societies of control, power relations come to be expressed through the action at a distance of mind on another, through the brain’s power to affect and become affected, which is mediated and enriched by technology.4

‘Telekin’, or kindred tele-things, contribute to both aesthesis and aesthetics, and to create an understanding of role of telekin-aesthesis, or an aesthetics of telekinesis. Aesthetics in ancient Greek meant ‘sensitive, sentient’ and was derived from the experience of perceiving, feeling, sensing and the responsiveness of the senses. Aesthesis is sensation, sense datum, sense experience and sense impression. Situated somewhere between the contemporary art gallery and global internets World Telekinesis Competition connects telekinesis to wider artistic and worlding aesthetics. The competition is determined by invisible, immaterial and spiritual forces as collaborative teams compete with each other to move the wax of candles. No doubt these mysterious forces are distributed with and inseparable from wider intra-world forces, such as climate. In Jacques Rancière’s The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible we find the suggestion of a ‘telekin-aesthesis’, a force stretched over distance – it is a distribution of sensibility, sense and feeling – a telepathic and noospheric network of related sense data. Rancière’s aesthetics looks at the limits of visible and the invisible, the audible and the inaudible, the thinkable and the unthinkable, sensible and insensible, the possible and the impossible. Rancière’s emphasis on the political is accompanied by the return of the psychical and questions of perception. In philosophising WTC further, WTC and Speculative Realism/Materialism are both thought experiments. WTC is not open to professional psychics as a rule, and it is likely an unwritten rule for continental philosophy as well, despite Derrida’s telekinetic and table-tapping exaggeration of Marx’s figure of commodity fetishism as a spooky psychically animated table, and Derrida’s theatrical performance as a telepathic Sigmund Freud in Telepathy.

  1. David Trend, WORLDING.ORG, The book is David Trend, WORLDING: Identity, Media, Imagination in a Digital Age, Paradigm Publishers, 2013.
  2. See: Jacquelene Drinkall, “Human and Non-Human Telepathic Collaborations from Fluxus to Now,” 2011, Colloquy, 22 146, and Kristine Stiles, “Anomaly, Sky, Sex, and Psi in Fluxus”, in Critical Mass: Happenings, Fluxus, Performance, Intermedia and Rutgers University 1958-1972, ed. Geoffrey Hendricks (Nebraska: Rutgers University Press, 2003), 60-88, 84.
  3. Jacquelene Drinkall, “The Art and Flux of Telepathy 2.0 in Second Life,” 54.
  4. Warren Neidich, eds Deborah Hauptman and Warren Neidich, From Noopower to Neuropower: How Mind Becomes Matter, Cognitive Architecture. From Biopolitics to Noopolitics. Architecture & Mind in the Age of Communication and Information, 539-581, 539