The Democracy Machine 1 Favorite 

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Jun 27 2015

Location: 

UK

The Democracy Machine! is a performative sculpture that gives participants the opportunity to experience the thrill of democracy in action, in a competitive game that challenges people to work together toward understanding a better society. Using the spectacle and play of performance drawn from Las Vegas Casinos, gambling machines and game shows, The Democracy Machine! brings the dynamics of debate, decision making, and political discourse out into a new space that encourages participation and not simply assent: action and debate and not conformity.

The Machine comprises of 2 electronic voting stations, connected to a gaming screen that displays the current debate question, gives a timer for each timed round, and tallies their running cumulative score. The game begins when participants step up to their voting station. A question is displayed on the screen, and each participant has 10 seconds to select 'Yes', or 'No', depending on whether they agree with the presented debate question. If all participants agree, they receive a point and move on to the next question. If the participants disagree, then a buzzer sounds and the timer starts. Participants then have 120 seconds to reach a consensus through debate and discussion together in whatever way they think best. If they do manage to reach a consensus then they score a point and move on to the next question. If at the end of the timer they are unable to reach an agreement, a second buzzer sounds and the participants are out of the game.

Debate topics for the game are drawn from visitors and participants who can use twitter and the hashtag #Democracymachine to suggest Yes/No questions which the game picks up using a wired network connection. Live-tweeting enables the audience to propose a diverse range of questions: from moral quandaries such as 'would you do something you knew was wrong if the price was right?'; to relationship building 'Will you go for a drink with me after?'; to more esoteric or poetic questions such as 'are we free?'.

Can we ever reach a true consensus? Is that even desirable? First performed as part of BE Festival in Birmingham, The Democracy Machine sets out ask these questions and its coming to a theatre or gallery near you!

Posted by Center for Artistic Activism on