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A cautionary tale.

  • Feb 28 2023
  • Omsk Social Club
    is an artistic practice centered around a role-playing methodology called Real Game Play. Using the tools of speculative worlding and collective immersion, they produce Live installation-based artworks.

Alienation and Charisma is a cautionary tale, set in a near-future world, where order and chaos are governed by new models of micro-gridded affinity groups, Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) and consensus rituals that have emerged after a world-changing event called The Shattering. 

What follows is the transcript of “a day in the life of” The Vibeswatchers.



The future has arrived, but is this the future we had hoped for?

Order and chaos are now governed by micro-gridded affinity groups, Decentralized Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) and consensus rituals that emerged after The Shattering. 

The Shattering had to be as violent as the counter-shattering, naturally.

After The Shattering, many people tried to find the root cause of the event—was it the quest for authenticity? The fact we were literally running out of finite resources? Or the fundamental cultural contradictions between post-industrial values and the post-industrial means of achieving goals that allowed us to survive in this world and the next? 

Theories are still discussed over many late-night drinks even a year later…Was it an inside job? Did the master's tools really eventually dismantle the master’s house; was it all those statistical hires…? And at what cost for the psyche of the activist worker? Or, perhaps, it was the restricted zone of religious radicalism that stretched from central Europe to the British Isles that tipped people over the edge, all that talk of capital as God—was it a curse set upon them? Or is it possible that this is the third moment of history, breaking the cycle? 

The term “The Firing Squad” became the go-to conspiracy as no one really knew who fired the first bullet (gossip: it was the Idiopaths) nor the last deadly shot (gossip: it was The Organization). There were, after all, multiple impact points; hence, the feeling of ownership and accomplishment was shared by many in The Organization, as was the feeling of unilateral defeat by those who later became known as the Idiopaths.

The Idiopaths had to accept their defeat. How many of them are there, you ask? Maybe one, maybe 2 million. They are mostly made up of code purists, market evangelists, heavyweight oppressors, and the "Market Knows Best" types. 

They were originally all over the newspapers, a post-Shattering parody, and people undeniably  enjoyed seeing them fall. Yet, now, people are afraid to write about them. They have become a potentially credible menace—armed and violent—that everyone has to live with. They mostly stay off the grid: making up the new Depression Mill, optimizing themselves for death, finding no resonance in this new society. They live in retreats sometimes. The retreats are very individualistic, but communal, like the old-fashioned offices. Allowing for quick acclimation, the members forget the outside and live in relative economic security in their dwindling reserves after The Shattering.

We know them to be withdrawal sects now.

Life goes on. Each morning, as part of the new governance ritual, 365 days a year, two members of each affinity group drive in an infinity-shaped route across their respective cities. They cross the symbol’s crux at sunrise. During these drives, members of other affinity groups can approach the car on foot or seek council, muse, and pass information over the car phone.


Transcript from ∞ route of The Vibeswatchers, Berlin, Germany


Time: 3.30am

Starting Location: The Ritz Carlton, Potsdamer Platz 3, 10785 Berlin

Members onsite: Rain, Winter 

Affinity group: The Vibeswatchers

Rain: A wish is a single, literal-minded technology. You make an input and the becoming exhales as output. There are no nuances. There are no forks, no testbeds, no beta models, no strategies, and no conditions. Only a one-track mind: goal, execution. It happened almost overnight. Culture, they say, created closure after The Shattering. It formed a collective identity, microgridded. They use the ritual of voting as a performance that created value. Each vote contains bodily knowledge. A memory of participation and consensus. They built an embodied identity that fed into the communal body. The community grew, yet the dramatic incidences of social change, critics say, led to mob behavior and crisis: euphoric voting, rather than the reflective art of decision-making. Alienation, charisma, and investment of self are mutually related, you know; alienation consists of an inability to make collective decisions in the present societal formation. We saw all of this before, of course, a sense of powerlessness, a sense of meaninglessness, a sense of normlessness. Value isolation, self-estrangement, social isolation. And of course, the investment of self is the action that can be taken by the individual in an attempt to overcome this inability. Maybe this is the true story of The Shattering. The old saying, “One person's community is another person's cult”—but sometimes, the collectivity itself, or some portion of it, is the charismatic factor. It is generally the fate of completely new historical creations to be mistaken for the counterparts of older, and even defunct, forms of social life, to which they may bear a certain likeness. But the most pernicious fate might be when a new creation is not seen in its likeness by a form of social life thought to be defunct. Someone once said that all great world-historic facts and the images of personages appear, so to speak, twice. Someone else objected. He forgot to add that the first time is a tragedy and the second time is farce. To not make an absent cause of history. Where were you when The Shattering happened?

Winter: Everyone always remembers it as a rite of passage for the collective. It gave structure to things. It showed the passage of time. I remember watching it. The coffee was cold in the cup next to me; the room was cold as the coffee. The screen had something like a film on it. And under the type screams, yells, and affirmations, further confused by a flood of deep fakes came over the social forums. Waterfalls of it don't chart. It doesn't chart. I watched an aesthetic interaction begin to slew. The interaction between technology and capital was inseparable after The Shattering. Old markets had to be re-exploited. Shatter the past, fuck for the future. 

Old industries had to be brutally eliminated; new markets were forcibly claimed with nascent vocabulary. They couldn't exist outside. There was nowhere to go. There was no outside. Nobody had ever asked what will happen when the collective, the commons, the decentralized autonomous organization wins. No one picked those scabs. “Future always fails,” Karatani wrote. I guess it can never be the cruel, content place we want it to be. Alienation and Charisma developed side by side.



Time: 6.30am 

Location: Leaving the Ritz Carlton, Potsdamer Platz 3, 10785 Berlin in a stretched limousine for ∞ route

Members onsite: Rain, Winter 

Affinity group: The Vibeswatchers


Dial-in call to car phone

Time: 6.45am

Location: ∞ route, Berlin

Members onsite: Rain, Winter

Members offsite: Keller Tampagna

Affinity group: The Vibeswatchers and Serial Correlations

Keller Tampagna: We have serious concerns about the depression mill with further advances and failure to resonate amongst the die-hard individualists: serious depression has arisen. 

They are optimizing themselves for death.



Call ends

Winter: The human is set; it's emotional; it's social. It's not about delivering data. It is a conceivable threat. Don't you remember the old suicide bombers—not only as a part of this depression mill living in these retreats; these office-like infrastructures of individualism—but that they also still have a hold on the Big Pharma exit? What happened to all of those chemical substrates? It is political, you know; it's about the lack of resonance that they have with society. With culture, with our culture, the organization. I understand where they're coming from. The future is—is more known than the past. This is a complete 180. 

This is like humanity's corpse flipped on its side.

Rain: It's making an absent cause of history.

Winter: We learned it all by heart. How could we possibly defend the soul? 

Rain: No one remembers the past anymore. Everyone just fetishizes the future. To look beyond The Shattering, all that we see right now is that things are flourishing. 

Winter: What about the depression mill? Isn't that an effect of the past? Isn't that a living, physical iteration of the past? When we vote on things, when we use consensus, we create an embodied action. We create an emotional memory based on our votes. We place them there. You know, that's a bond that says “Silver threads, a tethered soul,” between ourselves and the striving for consensus. 

Rain: We talk a lot about consensus, but there is not even a consensus about this strange indecision: whether there is even enough for everyone, and whether everyone even can have enough. 

Winter: The human will never be sated.


Dial-in call to car phone

Time: 6.58am

Location: ∞ route, Berlin

Members onsite: Winter, Rain

Members offsite: Coccia Huldy

Affinity group: The Vibeswatchers and The Archivists

Coccia Huldy: Symbols are the medium of the community. They're trying to attack them: the medium, the symbol. They immolate them appropriation. These symbolized and de-ritualized have found a credible revolt against formalism; against form.

Call ends

Rain: An asymmetrical line to clout and charisma. 

Winter: But does that mean you think you don't think that people should be able to exercise their individuality for their own economy? 

Rain: As if we can be free individuals in an economy. The idea of price means that we have a similar understanding of what a price is, no? If I say price and understand it as value, and you say price and understand it as a loss, how are we supposed to actually engage in a meaningful interaction? If data is history, then the only way to change it is to change history, no? In the present. History is being made as we go. It's dynamic. Not having it in plural doesn't mean that it's static.

Winter: I’m not sure if we can say publicly that we can change history. I think that might create a panic. 

Rain: Not all civil unrest is necessary for the betterment of the conditions of the many. It's those in power who tried to reinstate the new; a new order with old interests.

Winter: Do you think that's a credible threat?

Rain: It might be what we're seeing right now in The Organization. It's—it's a bull trap. Everyone's out buying and consuming.

Winter: They're consuming for a new Organization,

Rain: But no change is going to come from consumption.

Winter: Consumption also goes hand in hand with values.

Rain: There's no value in consumption. Consumption eradicates value; it hides value; it alienates value.

Winter: But what about cultural consumption? I mean, doesn't that have value?

Rain: Value is hidden in the transaction, that is the problem. But they're just reaching deeper and deeper into the common purse. There's no redistribution.

Winter: It's never been seen as a utopia. We pride ourselves on experimental open-mindedness. Did you ever invest?

Rain: Of course. The moment I had to join an Organization,

Winter: What was it? Land, Money, or Skill?

Rain: Skill. 

Winter: I feel like they never gave people who had things this job.

Rain: They would always portray themselves as if they had so many struggles. As if life was hard. But they were enjoying their villas, their mansions, and their gardens. They were enjoying their private jets.

Winter: I guess enjoyment was a different thing back then. Investment of the self doesn't need to be self-centered.

Rain: Yeah, isn't that terrible?



Time: 7.15am

Location: Pick up Leipziger Strasse xx, 10117

Members onsite: Rain, Winter, mp#6021

Affinity group: The Vibeswatchers and The Idiopaths

mp#6021: It's hard to say right now. My faith is at a crisis. I trust the markets. And I believed in them. But I would like to disengage from my affinity group.

Winter: But it's the new market, right?

mp#6021: I am trying to reconcile with the idea that nothing is what I thought it was. We were trying to rectify the markets. And we were trying very hard. In a decentralized world. We weren't supposed to not have leaders, but we chose one. There was a lot of PR involved, who were conditioned and deceived and hypnotized. And everything was fragrant and infectious, and he seemed good. And in the end, we did what we said we wouldn't do. We trusted. And this leader was investing all along, deceiving millions of people for billions. Everything unfolded in a week. Day after day, we were met with new tragedies. The PR machine was too strong. And PR mixed with money presented a screen. Being in a state of euphoria caused by bull markets that didn't let us see properly. Who was a good actor, and who was a bad actor? I don't know if you know this term. It's from my affinity group and it's a little bit—and it's a little bit funny, but it's very dark at the same time. People believed in the idea of WAGMI: we're all going to make it. This philosophy seemed very innocent, and sharing resources and a decentralized future were actually convincing everyone. It was a winning game only for those who did not believe in WAGMI. It was just a meme that lasted three years.

Rain: Maybe there are two logics at play. One of them is the fear of not being able to get ahead, and one is the fear of not being able to move at all. And the latter is probably rational if true, but the first is mobilized as a kind of anxiety machine. To drive everyone to support what is, in effect, more destruction than creation for all. Always terrifying.

mp#6021: It's always terrifying. Markets are forces, markets are versatile, and markets regulate themselves. We don't need leaders. We need headless organizations. 

I like to think that in headless organizations, nothing is ever mandatory, and everything is voluntary. 


Sunrise at cross-section

Time: 7.28am

Location: Pick up Lobeckstrasse xx, 10969

Members onsite: Rain, Winter, mp#6021

Affinity group: The Vibeswatchers and The Idiopaths


mp#6021: This is helpful. Thank you.

mp#6021 exits the Limousine


Time: 7.40am

Location: Pick up U-Südstern

Members onsite: Rain, Winter, Alias

Affinity group: The Vibeswatchers and The Caretakers

Alias: I would like to discuss a few things with you. It's almost completed—the pairing. Everyone has received their artwork, but there has been some violence against a few works. People have not been happy with what they received from the algorithm. 


Alias: They will learn to live with it.

Winter: Is it an educational thing?

Alias: It's a matter of learning to care for art. They've all received one work to look after because we have limited storage capacities and it's important for them to connect.

Winter: I mean, this is the whole global Treasury, right?

Alias: Yes. People didn't fully care. So, we took measures.

Winter: You think that they didn't care because they didn't buy it. They didn't choose it. 

Alias: Yes. 

Winter: Is money a valid measure of care?

Alias: Through time, they will understand. But in some cases, the artworks have already been lost. They've been destroyed by their owners, their holders, and their carers. They couldn't look at them anymore. 

Winter: How many works? 

Alias: A few hundred. In the end, we have so many that it’s another problem: they just keep producing new art.

Winter: But do we want them to be inspired by the past? 


Winter: At the end of the day, there is always a shadow; there's a worm; there's an affliction, and it comes and rises up, and you don't even notice it until it's already manifested itself.

Rain: It just updated the old and new orders.

Winter: You know, there are certain radical shifts. And I think we're doing Council Member a disservice here. I think that it is a fairly radical moment for them. Art meant a lot to people. 

Rain: We can't say that if they have nothing to eat, they should eat art. I think that would be the wrong solution for the current problem we're facing.

Alias: Well, thank you so much for your time.

Winter: It was a pleasure.

Rain: Thank you, Council Member.

Alias exits the Limousine



Time: 8.05am

Location: Pick up Britzer Damm xx 12347 Berlin

Members onsite: Rain, Winter, Chaos, and Order

Affinity group: The Vibeswatchers and Ludus

Order: I have actually updated the game. So, you are now part of the rules. Each of the rules that I designed are cyclical. When I designed them, it should always lead to another cycle and another cycle, where the balance between players is respected. But does it chart?

Chaos: It can come from anywhere.

Winter: But does it chart?

Order: Does it chart?

Rain: How do you identify the chart?

Winter: Does it chart? Are we seeing it in the system?

Order: Yes, we're seeing it in the system. We had several games where we had a clear winner. And although I managed to tweak it—to tweak the rule, so that we could go into the cyclical again. It was artificially done, so I think it's chaos. Okay, yes. 

Chaos: That's an easy one. That's an easy one. Always when there's a disruptive force, it's the one that is guilty. I don't believe it; it's too easy. It's too easy.

Order: I think you're disrupting the game.

Chaos: It's an easy shot, easy.

Winter: Do you suspect your council member of rigging the system?

Order: I just can't see where else it can go. I mean—I mean, I am in control of the game and I am in control of the player.

Winter: Wasn't this part of The Organization’s principle, that we should grow from chaos? Do you feel that this has had a traumatic effect on you? How are you dealing with your own psyche? How are you staying sane while upholding the game for everybody else?

Order: I don't know. 

Chaos: Bring in The Idiopaths, why not?

Winter: Your commonage worries me. There's a lot of I; there’s a lot of control.

Chaos: That's a good question. I mean, I've never experienced this myself.

Winter: But then you’re drinking your own Kool-Aid, no?

Chaos: I mean, in a way. A new way. 


Chaos: Seems like a bit of a random solution, but I'm up for it.

Order: I think this is not the problem. I think interrupting the game is the problem. Maybe we should meet again tomorrow morning and discuss this further.

Winter: It would be a pleasure.

Chaos and Order Exit the Limousine 

Winter: Should they craft a riot?

Rain: No, no. I'm just saying that the riots already exist.

Winter: Yeah, the desk riots. That's literally what The Organization is about: it's about desk riots and voting as Molotov cocktails. 

Rain: But—

Winter: The Economist’s here.



Time: 8.45am

Location: Pick up Lobeckstrasse  x, 10969 Kreuzberg

Members onsite: Rain, Winter, -via

Affinity group: The Vibeswatchers and Investment of Self Affinity Group

Winter: You don’t look well at all.

Rain: No.

-via: No. It's been tough, tough days. Tough period. And the findings of our latest report  on the psychosocial investment index are quite concerning, after all. So, we see a big imbalance in the value of the resources held in the common purse and the evaluation of The Organization by the members. We think that these imbalances might lead to the burst of this bubble soon. Basically, our cultural capital is inflated, and the situation is unsustainable. It’s been a while. Maybe to refresh your memory on the strategy since the last time we talked: in the phase right after The Shattering, we read all of the books. We learned that coordination is better achieved not just by sharing material resources, but also by investing oneself in the collective.

Winter: We all agreed.

-via: We all agreed, and we thought that that was exactly the way forward. We wanted to solve the socialist calculation we made through social capital, but this is kind of backfiring at the moment. We knew that money is an anti-future because it doesn't save, or it doesn't preserve any memory or information through exchange. So, we thought that we could attach non-transferable tokens to the soul. When capital of any kind becomes so closely connected to one soul via tokens of appreciation and peer evaluation practices, that then gives access to material resources. What happens is that the soul is an asset; it becomes an asset to be leveraged and never compromised. What is happening now is that everybody in The Organization is too busy shilling the values of their communities but not actually practicing them. This is what I'm seeing, I’m afraid, from divining the charts, that we are losing the capacity for the descensus. And for the productive role that disagreement has within The Organization for it to grow and evolve. I'm not exactly sure what the right way forward is. I'm afraid that speaking up and saying this in front of The Organization would be another slash of my own stake in the collective, which I cannot afford. But on the other hand, I think that if we don't act, alienation is going to start growing within The Organization, leading a lot of people out of it. People who do not necessarily agree with idiopathic tendencies, but don't have anywhere else to go. We are losing an appetite for otherness. I don't know exactly how to approach the situation. I have a couple of ideas that I don't think are going to be popular and they might even—


-via: I'm afraid that the only way forward—the only way to try and save the organization—is to debase our resource unit. Which is going to be very unpopular. There are a lot of members that have earned higher status. The other idea would be  a protocol upgrade, one that would reduce the rewards for staking souls into the collective, because, practically speaking, we don't have enough resources to back our affective claims within the community.

Winter: How quickly could it be implemented?

-via: It might take months. I don't know if we can handle that. 

Winter: Would it need to be discussed? Sometimes I feel like I understand this consensus—discussion, you know; mediation, community organizing—but it doesn't ever allow for reflection or silence. You never feel the decision.

-via: Exactly. And that's exactly one of the biggest problems: people have invested so much of themselves into the collective. They are losing the capacity for self-reflexivity. Critical thinking. We wanted to create an organizational structure that could encourage emergent and autopoietic behaviors that, at the moment we reach an impasse, becomes the opposite; homeostasis. Well, I guess, in part, we have, perhaps, externalized so much of our memory into synthetic means of making sense of it. We've lost the capacity to appreciate the traces of actual time passing.

Winter: Do you think it's—we've—I can't even say it. Are we forming a cult? 

-via: Well, there are certainly some cultish tendencies that are developing here, related to a lack of capacity to disagree and acknowledge the limitations of our current model. I think that we are not seeing the threat inside The Organization. We are losing people anyway, because they feel detached from what's happening, even though they're still operating by the incentive machine that enables them to express and communicate their belonging to the community. That's may be one of the problems we’re optimized to communicate as the mode of expression; nonmaterial investment.

Rain: I feel like your proposals need to be taken seriously.

Winter: I think we should meet again tomorrow. 

-via: I agree. It's so important.

Winter: Thank you so much.

-via exits the limousine 

Winter: The Economist had some good points.

Rain: I think that the proposals she brought are definitely more legible to me than the ones by the Games Affinity Group.

Winter: It feels like they might be lost.

Rain: I think that they're just tearing each other apart. They don't understand that Order and Chaos co-condition…

Winter: Games are competitive, by their very essence.

Rain: But they wanted to create a non-competitive game.

Winter: They wanted to create an infinite game, but infinite doesn't necessarily mean non-competitive.

Rain: But that's what they said at the beginning.

Winter: I mean, capitalism was supposed to be an infinite game, with finite resources. They all believe. They all want, and they all desire. They all want to manifest this new world. I didn't feel like any of them were bad actors or bad players. But the system is rigged against them… 


Winter: Staying sane in a system of insanity.

Dial-in call to car phone


Time: 8.47am

Location: ∞ route, Berlin

Members onsite: Winter, Rain, Tatum Wilke

Affinity group: The Vibeswatchers and Endists

Tatum Wilke: I am living offline now. I'm trying to write myself a spiritual autobiography. I write to leak, to bleed, to mummify. The act and depth of my writing tells me if I am capable. Every unnecessary lie is another way to build a person, spiking on a socio-polygraph. Can literature close the gap on genes?

End of Transcript

Time: 9.00am

Location: The Ritz Carlton Potsdamer Platz 3, 10785 Berlin Germany


The film "Alienation and Charisma" by Omsk Social Club and the text by Laura Lotti were curated and commissioned by GameChanger, a project that explores contemporary mindsets and practices of self organization in the arts. GameChanger is a collaboration between the Curatorial Collective for Public Art and SUPERMARKT Berlin, realized with the kind support of HauptstadtKulturFonds.

    Alienation and Charisma 2022, Photographer Mark Hunt. Courtesy of Omsk Social Club.



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