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Berlin, 1 October 2006

I am on the bus, travelling east to revisit the area between Hackesche Höfe, Neue Synagoge, Oranienburger Strasse, Linien Strasse, and finally the New Wing of the Deutsches Historisches Museum, which my mother insists I must visit at all costs. The game starts with a whole flurry of messages. After yesterday’s silences, I savour every second of this sudden spurt of activity. Still indulging myself at Kath’s Café, I meet LYSISTRATA who claims that she has woken from centuries of dreams. She is very talkative and uses beautiful, carefully crafted sentences. I, of course, a dreamer, feel an immediate affinity. I also meet that old acquaintance, JOHN MORGAN, who seems a little embarrassed about standing me up, and CLOUDYSUNNY who wants to know whether I have ‘goldenes haar’, has dark brown and hazel eyes and talks about horses on pastures that remind me of Devon. He may of course have spotted one of the possible referents of my figurine...

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I am run down and peckish. Today’s plan is not to care about anything. I want to be superficial and not go beneath the surface. Not too much anyway. I also need to remember to write about invisibility. And I feel compelled to talk about Nefertiti, the emblem of beauty of all times.

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The phones buzzes. I pick up and eat a fry up. I pickup and drop a wristband. I pick up and drop a filthy and useless sleeping bag. I pick up and drink some tea (there seems to be no coffee in this city). I feel that I could do anything today. This is obviously too dull for LYSISTRATA and JOHN MORGAN, who decide to go to SK8Park with a mysterious friend. I am so absorbed with texting that I miss my bus stop. Despite the fact I have no idea where I am, I get off and start walking. Today, I will not get lost. Although I do not know where I am, I have a direction.

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I decide that I wish to find a player called HASSAN. I did meet him at Kath’s Café on my first visit but somehow ignored him to go dancing with JOHN MORGAN. Yesterday two out of the three operators told me that HASSAN is a particularly ‘interesting’ player. I've always wondered what an interesting player does and so now feel an irresistible curiosity to meet him again.

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I go to the Rat Research Institute and find out that, like the rest of us, HASSAN is poorly. I wish to help him, or maybe I wish he helped me. I still don’t know how to improve my health, which seems to be getting worse all the time. In the meantime, I walk thorough strange, unfamiliar surroundings that look not too dissimilar to certain canal paths in the game. HASSAN is not responding. I realise that I am still more interested in the people I meet in the game than my destinations. I wonder if this is peculiar to those of us who are still in Berlin, or if the rest if the team feels the same. I must come back to this.

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I arrive at the Dome and realise I have a problem identifying the building I wish to look at. There are African drummers near me. Police. A market. Many tourists. We are reminded that the burning of books marks the end of civilisation. I phone my mother to find out the location of the building she thought I should visit. She tells me that her sister has just been taken into intensive care for a suspected stroke. I learn that she is still unconscious. As we talk, I can hear SMS bleeping – this distracts me but it does not make me angry. I think that I am, perhaps at last, totally estranged to myself. I look at Nefertiti’s poster. I sit down. I feel numb and helpless. My aunt is elderly and poorly, but I love her and this is a big blow. Meanwhile the game keeps on ringing. I cannot bring myself to actually check the messages. I wish I could do something. The next hour is like a whirlwind.

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I have abandoned all my plans of travelling east. I am, however, still sitting in front of Nefertiti. I admire the signs of age on her face that, apparently, the artist felt compelled to add after finishing the work. Layer after layer, of carefully sculpted marks, so that the most beutiful queen of all times was always already scarred. I think this has to do with liveness and aura, but also with the ‘that-has-been’ of the photographic document which we know from Roland Barthes to be simultaneously a ‘certificate of presence’ and an absence, lack or trace (2000: 13, 32, 77, 87), something of a ‘perverse confusion’ between ‘the Real and the Live’. This makes me think of the importance of scarring surfaces, but more of this and the connection with Day of the Figurines another time.

Finally, I arrive at the Deutsches Historisches Museum. The phone still buzzes. This makes me think of a quote I used in my first book on new media by Coop Himmelb(l)au. Almost forty years ago he claimed about his work: ‘our architecture has not a physical plan, but a psychic one. Walls no longer exist. (…) Our heartbeat becomes space; our face is the façade.’ (Himmelb(l)au in Gerbel and Weibel, 1994: 58). I recall something fascinating that Martin Flintham explained at the last Brighton workshop I attended about Day of the Figurines, in relation to the use of space, rooms and textuality within the game. I want to try to understand the relationship between Coop Himmelb(l)au’s quote and Martin’s analysis and, more generally, between Architecture and Computer Science in relation to the use of rooms in this project. I need more time for this though (and I also need Martin and Steve Benford to re-explain all this to me).

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Meanwhile, I arrive at HAU2. I am still at the Rat Research Institute with MARTIN, SUPER GIRL and JOHN. There is a silver Mercedes. The gates are shut. HASSAN is somewhere here too. I wonder what/who is inside. I don’t know what to do. I ask if anybody feels like running away with me, but there is a problem with my phone’s memory and although I think that someone might have answered, I cannot retrieve any messages about it. I decide to go to Pirate FM.

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Since nothing is happening at Pirate FM, I decide that I must go back to the Institute.

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It is very quiet here, though it is even quieter at HAU2. Martin Flintham has finally left, and so it’s just the three operators, Michael Wright and myself. Although the team is no longer in this space, they are of course still in the game. I look at the static white table, its evocative destinations, the beautiful and delicate figurines, and I look at the space the table is in, and in many ways one could say that there is nothing here. I shut my eyes. The room is quiet, except for a soft technological humming. Yet, we all know, the game is absolutely buzzing with life. Mieke Matzke from She She Pop though that it was interesting that Blast Theory had chosen not to ‘appear’ in this piece. Of course Blast Theory, like the rest of us, including now Mieke, are in the piece all the time, and, what's more, we will be so for 24 days. We are all just not where, according to the theatrical canon, you’d expect to be. A persistent virtual community, we are slowly but pervasively acting out a double life. We are in a scarred city. We are run down. We don't know anything. We learn all the time. We only have one another and our phones.

Before I leave, I learn who HASSAN’s player is. I will not betray him here, but find the knowing interesting. I will still look for him tomorrow and wonder how this knowing will effect my game. Tomorrow will be primarily about knowledge, HASSAN, surfaces and playing the game.

To follow tomorrow's game go to Day of the Figurines 2/10/2006

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