These Animals is an artistic research collective interested in the urban space and looking for ways to engage with the city through the concept and system of gaming. Website:


Gaming the System

Helsinki the 17th-27th of September, 2015


Gaming the System examines an understanding of what might be axiomatic to games and art. Games are understood as structured play with formalist and systematic rules governing players. Play not as a definition of this axiom but understood as what is embodied through the identification of play may give us a way to game the system.

In cultural terms play is understood to pre-date culture itself, as “animals have not waited for humans to teach them their playing”, which has been stated by cultural theorist John Huizinga. With this in mind play is not exclusively human, but gaming and game design are both human activities. You need to play with ideas to reach something new since play pre-dates any new culture. Play is innate to many species, species whose ancestors exited before humanity ever systematized play as games.

We know play as we know ourselves. This understanding of play mirrors the way we recognize ourselves within larger systems. This self-recognition is an embodied way of pervading the systems and structures, which are seen through our behaviour and social norms. This is to say that inherent in the recognition of play is a gaming of the system, which functions as a reflexivity of complex systems.

Understanding the art works in Gaming the System as reflexivity, with regard to our lived environments and play is a cue to explore art as a gaming of the system. Through this project these Animals have invited artists who use the materials and contexts of daily life to perpetuate art works. Art that games the system might make us know ourselves anew in the culture we live beyond our current recognition.

These Animals is an artist group comprised of Pii Anttila (Finland), Anastasia Artemeva (Russia), Alan Bulfin (Ireland), Steve Maher (Ireland), brought together through our shared interest in creating an art happening in an urban place. The artist collective invited practitioners from Finland and abroad for the debut event in September 2015.