The Parallaxis is an invitation to experience the city differently; an ongoing game that anyone can play. In this game the ordinary gives way to an everyday that is ambiguous and indeterminate, enlivening the city with a magic that need not be invented, only allowed.
Several years ago I began to devise this game in collaboration with the streets and laneways of Melbourne. For the city also plays; this is a collective conjuring. A raising of speculative resonance between entities. What if, what if? This is how games and magic work alike.
The anthropologist David Abram speaks of the attunement between human and more-than-human as an “ecology of magic” which has nearly vanished from our modern world. It is an ecology that extends beyond flora and fauna to encompass all that our senses encounter: wind, thunder, shadow, stone. And our loss is keen. As Abram notes: “We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.”
Abram locates the last vestiges of this magic primarily in those untrammeled regions of the earth where the human has yet to eclipse all else, but The Parallaxis wonders if this wild materialism could also thrive within an urban context. What happens when we see the city as not only something that we create, but also as something that is creating us?
Each player of The Parallaxis will play a different game; will attune to distinct aspects of the subtle city. I have discovered for instance that my magic dwells in deep shadows and unexpected arcs of light; in brooms and doors and basketball hoops. Powerlines and rubbish bins and vegetation pushing through the cracks. Junk magic. Witchy magic. Glitter in the gutters; beauty and decay jumbled up in some kind of chaos zen. Your magic will likewise be uniquely your own.
The Parallaxis: instructions for a game was presented at The Old Bar Gallery in Melbourne from April 4–8, 2017. The online version is an ongoing project that will continue to evolve. It is accompanied by a secondary creative project that is quietly masquerading as a dissertation.