Imagine an “electronic” ritual and prototype the necessary systems to perform the ritual. Then perform the ritual and document the process. (This can be a ritual that you perform on your own, or you can involve other people.) Your imagined scenario can be speculative (e.g., a science fiction), critical, mystical, oriented toward self-care, etc. What effect does your ritual have in the world? On its participants?
If you need more structure for your process or some ideas about how to proceed, try How do you design a ritual? and About ritual design from the Ritual Design Lab.
As discussed in class and through last week’s assigned reading, there is a close relationship to collective games and rituals. I am particularly interested in Marinka Copier’s (2005) take on the idea of creating new spaces from these collective experiences. She argues that “analog and digital fantasy role-playing can be seen as collections of performances or ritual acts, in which players are connecting worlds while constructing the game/play space, identities, and meaning” (p.8).
As I have mentioned before in many of the assignments over the past six months, the most challenging thing about this period in my life – as I believe to be with most of the people that move out of their countries – is dealing with reterritorialization. I use this term quite literally, as in referring to my own experience of being displaced of many of the spaces and meanings that constitute my identity, and my effort to understand who am I in this new configuration. Also, understanding our memories as living entities that inhabit the space around us, the simple action of inhabiting a new space changes completely our perception of self. In my case, creating a deep feeling of depersonalization and derealization. I have been dealing with these symptoms since I made the choice to leave my country, and it’s been a daily struggle to embody the notion of living in between Brazil and New York – but not for long.
The rite of inhabiting the in between will connect my home country to the city I live in, creating a new space – one that holds my new identity.
As it is now, Instagram is the most important tool in my daily connection rituals to my homeland. That is the channel through which I acknowledge the living existence of loved ones, find out about what they have been doing, talk to them about how they have been, see all the places that are familiar to me, visit my friends’ houses, participate in their parties, share their meals and have fun with their pets.
For this reason, I decided to use this platform as the support for this ritual. My intent is to create or access an existing memory in real time with a Brazilian human being, and connect it to my present moment in important spaces for me in New York City. If the person wishes to do so, they can perform the ritual wherever they are, strengthening the connection between the spaces. In the end, the ritual will result in a digital artifact that shall live in Instagram until the end of time, keeping this connection permanently alive.
I am aiming to perform this ritual four times, from Sunday, Feb 10th to Wednesday, Feb 13th– at home (Bushwick), school (NYU – Tisch @ Broadway 721), work (NYU – Tisch @ 2nd Av), and the Williamsburg bridge. But, there is a lot of space for technical issues, so I will update this page with whatever results I get each day.
Rite of inhabiting the in between: instructions
- Prepare the space for the ritual by posting an Instagram Story warning people that I’ll be calling someone at a certain time in the day;
- Find a space that tells me who I am in New York;
- Set up one camera to record the whole scene, start recording;
- Sit on the ground;
- Start screen recording on my phone;
- Watch Brazilian friends’ Instagram Stories until I find something that I recognize and/or that tells me who I am;
- Video call whoever made that Story [if they don’t respond, go back to watching Stories;
- Tell them what I saw in their Stories that made me call them;
- Explain the ritual and ask them if they’d like to either participate or help me out with it [if not, hang up and go back to watching Stories];
- Tell them where I am;
- Ask them where they are;
- Talk a bit about things that connect us to the space;
- Find something in the Brazilian side of the conversation that connects me to that space [do the same the other way around];
- Clarify the instructions for the ritual, telling them to feel free to end the call anytime after 30 seconds from the next step in case they are just helping out, or explain the following steps in case they are performing;
- Ask them to position the camera in a way that they can show me the thing referred to in step 12, but still see the screen [do the same with my camera];
- Take a screenshot;
- Observe the image on our phones for at least 30 seconds, also paying attention to the feelings, memories and sensations that emerge from this observation;
- Close my eyes, keeping these images and memories alive [same];
- Take my shoes off [same];
- Stand up, both feet touching the ground [same];
- Connect that memory to the piece of land I am standing on through my presence in it [same];
- Open my eyes [same];
- Feel and strengthen the connection between the spaces [same];
- Thank the person in the other side, if they’re still there, and end the call;
- Stop documentation video;
- Screenshot myself standing in the video;
- Somehow edit all the screenshots together (collage, juxtaposition, double exposure, etc), creating a digital artifact that serves as the material connection point;
- Post it back into Instagram, tagging the person who participated if they wish to.
Day 0: preparation. [Feb 10, 2019 – 11:13 am]
Posted the preparation to my Story, and later to my feed. It says “I may call you between today and Wednesday. I need you to come with me.” Many concerned friends came to ask me if I was ok – they are prepared.
Day 1: home. [Feb 10, 2019 – 5:19 pm]
Duration of the session: 27:47 min.
Attempted connections: 9.
Concrete connection to: Anna Lins [@annalins]
Eternal bond created between: my apartment’s living room in Brooklyn and her apartment’s living room in Curitiba.
Image/memory shared as support: the paintings on our walls.
Execution: it took me very long to get someone to answer my call, but I was very invested in the Stories, as they truly make me feel connected to those spaces. I ended up calling Anna after I had passed through her story without calling her, because of a message that she sent me. As soon as we started the call, she commented about the painting on my wall, made by my roommate, and I realized that she was in the space in her house where she keeps many of her paintings. She decided to perform the ritual with me, so we exchanged images of the paintings in our walls, and connected them to our spaces.
Day 2: commute. [Feb 11, 2019 – 10:45 am]
Duration of the session: 05:42 min (on site) + 09:25 min (after talk).
Attempted connections: 1.
Out of sync connection to: Bianca Guimarães [@beeterraba]
Eternal bond created between: the Williamsburg bridge in New York City and Guartelá canyon in Brazil.
Image/memory shared as support: the water, the wind, the coldness of NYC weather and of Brazilian waterfalls.
Execution: as I mentioned in the presentation above, I could foresee a few technical problems, and they indeed became reality in this session of the ritual. My data wasn’t working enough to get a video call going, but the Stories that I connected myself too were so powerful to my body and the space that I was in, that I decided to go forward using them as the support. Those stories were made by a very close friend that also lives outside Brazil, but is there now. I am still not sure if those pictures were from the place that they connected me to – and that doesn’t matter. This place is Guartelá Canyon in Paraná, and this friend, her partner and I had been there together a few years ago. I also spend New Year’s in there this year, so those memories are still very vibrant in my body. The connection was almost instantaneous, so I finished the ritual by expanding those memories in the Williamsburg bridge. The cold of the ground on my feet hurt me like the cold waters of the Canyon. I cried my whole way back to school, happy to feel the chill breeze of Brazilian atlantic forest hitting me on my ride. After that, I messaged Bianca explaining what happened, and we shared our impressions about what this ritual relates to. She shared many memories and feelings related to the in between spaces in her present, strengthening the creation of this space. Lots of my inspiration and necessity to perform this ritual comes from years of intimate conversations about space, identity, memory, geography, deterritorialization and reterritorialization with her, so I always felt as if she co-created this ritual with me, and she did.
Day 3: work. [Feb 12, 2019 – 1:16 pm]
Duration of the session: 29:29 min.
Attempted connections: 1.
Concrete connection to: Guilherme Mendes Muniz [@guimmuniz]
Eternal bond created between: Tisch Dance (2nd Ave) in New York City and Casa Hoffmann in Curitiba.
Image/memory shared as support: the wooden floors, the bodies exploring and thinking movement in space, us as part of the architecture, our older memories considering our bodies exploring spaces.
Execution: again, I couldn’t trust my internet connection, but Guilherme’s story was very powerful. I was inside the prop room at Tisch Dance, and I had spent the whole morning at my job commenting about how much I miss performing. I had some trouble connecting to the Stories this time, and nothing really spoke to me, until I saw Guilherme’s photo of a dance studio in which we shared many workshops and performances over the last 7 years. The picture showed the wooden floor that is so familiar to us – and that is found all over the dance studios in the building I was in – and had, in the first plane, a mechanical pencil that we found together, and I have an equal one. After some struggle with the internet connection, I had decided to perform the ritual with that image when he replied to my video call with text. He told me he was still in the studio, in the middle of a workshop, and he asked me to send him a video proposing something related to that space for him to use in his exercise. We exchanged a few thoughts about both the ritual and the workshop through audio, and that ended up being the main material for the connection to happen. When I felt like we had created enough memories to connect the spaces, I finalized the ritual by expanding those memories in the space I was in, momentarily emptying the prop shop of all its items to declare it as a studio too. The wooden floors embraced my feet with the well known feeling of being ready to discover new possible bodies within mine in relation to space, only this time the space responded with new possibilities for itself in relation to my presence.
 Burroughs, Benjamin. “Facebook and FarmVille: A Digital Ritual Analysis of Social Gaming.” Games and Culture, vol. 9, no. 3, May 2014, pp. 151–66. SAGE Journals.
 Copier, Marinka. “Connecting worlds. Fantasy role-playing games, ritual acts and the magic circle”. Proceedings of DiGRA 2005 Conference Changing Views – Worlds in Play, Vancouver, Canada. Date accessed 10 Feb. 2019.