The Game

METS FEST – MUSIC ON THE (W)EDGE – Festival Europeo di Creatività Digitale – Cuneo
08 – 13 April 2022

How does the tension between playing freely and playing according to a strict set of rules, competition and unpredictability, arbitrariness and improvisation sound like?

The Game is an interactive sound installation merging the features and principles of card playing (Rummy), instrument playing and musical improvisation into a temporary performative situation. The Game’s system uses a digital interface to translate information gathered in the course of a card game into a command score, which prescribes the way differingly designed motors play on piano strings and shape a unique space for playing music in the structure of a table game. The multi-layered design of the project puts participants into two distinct roles: they either partake in the performative situation as a listeners who follows the game and the music dictated by the game, or actively participate in the gameplay and becomes a part of this (un)predictable interactive sound situation.

The Game is an operational model within which a specific space is created according to particular rules and temporal limitations. According to Eugen Fink, the world of game is: “nothing ‘more’ or ‘less’, when compared to other things; it is ‘more’ only because it is also ‘less’ at the same time. The world of games is a symbol of the real world in the visual medium. /…/ Torn between perfect practical inefficiency on the one and rules and regulations on the other side, The Game is a metaphor of cosmos by its qualities and thus represents a medium that enables an individual to determine their relation towards being, fellow humans and the world.” (Strehovec, Janez, »Igra kot igra«, in: Teorije igre pri Johanu Huizingi, Rogerju Cailloisu in Eugenu Finku, Študentska založba, Ljubljana, 2003, pg. 354–355.)

The Game is both a game and a playground for 2–4 players, 16 electro motors and a string-table. It combines the principles and peculiarities of a card game (Rummy), of playing a musical instrument and of musical improvisation, all combined into one temporary performative situation. The Game begins by capturing the image of a played card. A digital interface then relays a card-specific MIDI signal, composed in a 4/8 rhythm, as a looped command to the mechanised percussive parts of the string-table. The hierarchical power of the played card determines the rhythmical interactions, which are then composed into a score of commands and used to proportionally influence the current musical situation. Every move by a card game player is based on a particular distribution of possibilities, ones competitiveness and response to opponent’s moves and risk. The players’ reactions and behaviour resonate the logic of musical improvisation where all of the aforementioned open actions and procedures shape the channels of communication.
The Game resolves according to a matrix of unpredictable variations of human reactions and random outcomes which form a controlled improvisation as the card game progresses. The improvisation is controlled through a pre-determined musical score of commands that follow one another in an endless cycle of possible combinations and interactions defined by the string of cards being played.

Each game revolves around two distinctive poles; around paidia, the pole of imagination and improvisation, and around ludus, the tendency to quench spontaneity with rules and conventions. The game is played at a surreal level which asserts the domain of the not yet established. Its power lies in the fact that it disrupts the continuity of ordinary activities. By escaping from reality into fictional time and space, it establishes its territory as a temporary alternative world within our everyday reality. The project’s multi-layered design assigns two different roles to the attendants of The Game. They are both participants of an improvisational situation, in which they follow the game and listen to the sounds it produces, and card players, who become a part of (un)predictable sound-interactive situation.

The Game combines the empirical processes of playing cards and its subsequent musical performance. This way, in heterogeneous space of communication, it emits the sounds of tension between free play and play by strict rules, between competition and unpredictability, arbitrariness and improvisation. It is a hybrid instrument or even a system for performing music that can be realised only at the level of interplay between forms (Ibid., pg. 358.).

Inside the temporary zone of The Game, sound opens up temporality, acting as a disturbance in the characteristic hierarchical relationships of our reality, inside which complex organisations, systems and networks influence the increasingly torn temporal structure. The Game utilises different mediums and techniques of relaying digital and analogue processes for connecting intentions contained in playing/performing. It is those intentions that enable manipulation of sound and events. The Game speculatively s(t)imulates the potentials of (re)production, reception and participation processes and thus tests the relations between reality and fiction, the social and the individual.

Text: Lenka Đorojević


  • Mets Fest; Music of the (W)edge – Festival Europeo di Creatività Digitale – Cuneo | 8 – 13 April 2022
  • konS modul ≡ Pattern city, Kidričeva cesta 2b, Velenje, Slovenia | 16 – 26 February 2022
  • Xcenter, Delpinova ulica 20, Nova Gorica, Slovenia | 7 July – 31 August 2021
  • Layerjeva hiša, Kranj, Slovenia | 19 – 28  June 2018
  • osmo/za, Ljubljana (within the AA EBU convention), Slovenia | 15  June 2019
  • osmo/za, Ljubljana | 21 December 2017 – 26 January 2018


Matej Stupica in Jaka Berger – Brgs: The Game, 2017
interactive sound instalation

Concept / idea: Matej Stupica, Jaka Berger – Brgs and Andraž Magajna
Mechanisms design: Matej Stupica
MIDI score: Jaka Berger – Brgs
PCB design and programming: Brane Ždralo
Programming: Matic Potočnik
Curator: Lenka Đorojević
Production: Ljudmila Lab (Tina Dolinšek) and Projekt Atol Institute (Uroš Veber)
Special credits: Dan Adlešič, Johannes Lohbihler, Miha Zupan, Martin Lovšin Schintr, Bojan Stefanović, Miha Kelemina, Klemen Glej and Jaka Mihelič.

Project is supported by the Slovene Ministry of Culture and City of Ljubljana – Department for Culture.
The project is part of EASTN-DC Network, which is co-funded by the Creative Europe program of the European Union.


Matej Stupica (born 1987) is an artist, working in various fields of contemporary art and theatre. His work consists of installations, drawings, comics, artist’s books, paintings, illustrations for books, newspaper, music albums etc. In 2014 he graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana with a bachelor degree in painting. Since 2006 he has been publishing illustrations in Objektiv, the Saturday supplement of the Slovenian newspaper Dnevnik. Since 2012 he also works in a tandem with artist Lenka Đorojević. For their work Monomat, they received OHO Award for Young Artists in 2015. He teaches multiple courses at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. Works & lives in Ljubljana.

Matej Stupica

Jaka Berger – Brgs is one of the most driven and well versed drummers and percussionists on Slovenia’s music scene over the past ten years. His debut, a free jazz record dubbed Bass Trio, made in collaboration with Achille Succi and Samo Šalamon, was released in 2006. He was a member of the percussion band StrojMachine, performing also with Katice and the legendary and now revived Borghesia, while today he is a permanent member of Ludovik Material and Darla Smoking. Together with Marko Karlovčec he formed the Radical Improvisation Duo, while he explores the more noisier sonic experiences alongside Vitja Balžalorsky as part of the project The B. Bees. He composes solo electro-acoustic pieces through sound layering and field recording modulation.

Jaka Berger – Brgs