Score: Boundary Piece

by | Sep 27, 2023 | Artwork #1: Score

Boundary Piece

Play tag with no boundaries.

Play tag with a reasonable boundary.

Play tag with an unreasonable boundary.

You may play hide-and-seek instead of tag.



Author’s Note:

This piece was heavily inspired by the work of Yoko Ono and the Fluxus artists. Yoko Ono’s elegant, poetic scores inspired the simple, repetitive style of this score. The alternative way to perform the score presented at the end is also something Yoko Ono does frequently in her book Grapefruit. Much of the Fluxus movement was interested in procedure and play. Tag (or hide-and-seek) is a very physical game. Playing it, especially with no boundaries, gets players moving through space, and actively experiencing life. The Fluxus artists were also concerned with modifying existing games, which I call back to here.

My score requests its performers to “play tag,” following whatever rules they understand that to mean. The rules of tag may vary wildly between different people, who grew up playing it in different environments. One thing tag does not have is a set end point. I recommend playing each step of this score with a short timer, but it could be played on a longer timer or even with some alternate win condition, if one understands tag to be played that way. Just like playing “proper” tag, this score is best performed outside, in an open space. Obstacles may or may not be present, and may or may not factor in to the performers’ conception of a (un)reasonable boundary.

This score was made with the specific purpose to make the performers think about boundaries in games. The score first asks you to play without boundaries, which, in my experience, does not work well. Players can just run away forever, never getting cornered by an impassable wall. Many playground disputes have arose from games of tag started with no established boundaries, over what is fair and reasonable. The score next asks you to create a reasonable boundary, making the performers consider what borders do facilitate a well-played game of tag. It concludes by asking the performers to play tag in an unreasonable boundary. This asks them to get creative. In both times performing this score, the performers went for an unreasonably small boundary, following the pattern established by the other two steps, but an unreasonable boundary could also be one with too many obstacles, or one of reasonable size but an over-specific, confusing shape.

My original conception of this score asked performers to play tag in an enclosed space, and then decrease the space until nobody can run, and play tag in the new enclosed space. I thought this was interesting, but did not leave room for interpretation and player expression, traits I admired in Yoko Ono’s work and wanted to include in my own score.