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Shall Make,
Shall Be: The Bill of Rights at Play

Shall Make, Shall Be: Call for Proposals

Shall Make, Shall Be: The Bill of Rights at Play invites artists and independent game makers to propose game-based artworks around the individual Amendments in the Bill of Rights. Drawing on both the legal meaning and the effect of the 10 Amendments on U.S. culture, these games and artworks are meant to use play to interrogate, critique, inform, and ask questions about our understanding of civil liberties in the 21st Century.

Ten projects will be selected, with each proposal team asked to create a playable work exploring one of the Ten Amendments from the Bill of Rights. Artists will be invited to develop their works with the support of the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon. Artists will receive an honorarium and small budget for expenses. Upon completion of the work, the selected proposals will be expected to grant Carnegie Mellon a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to present the resulting works in the Shall Make, Shall Be: The Bill of Rights at Play project.

Selected projects will have one year to produce their playable work for inclusion in exhibitions opening Fall 2021, and will receive an honorarium of $5,000, plus access to a small supplemental materials budget on a per-project basis. We anticipate check-ins with the curatorial team every two months leading up to the first installation of the exhibition. See the FAQ below for additional details.

The ten commissioned works will be included in an exhibition opening Fall 2021 in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University’s Frank-Ratchye STUDIO For Creative Inquiry, timed to commemorate the 230th anniversary of the Bill’s signing. There are plans to travel the show to additional sites throughout 2022. The exhibition will be accompanied by a printed publication including essays from scholars, a catalog raisonné, and artist statements.

Shall Make, Shall Be: The Bill of Rights at Play encourages proposals from those of underrepresented and marginalized identities and backgrounds including gender, race, culture, sexuality, citizenship status, and abilities.

Questions can be directed to: laine.nooney@gmail.com.

Submission Information

This call uses a two-phase review process. Phase 1 has concluded.

Phase 2 | Due October 23, 2020

Proposals advancing to Phase 2 will receive a $75 honorarium, to support completion of the next phase. Phase 2 requires four components:

  1. Expanded Work Proposal (8 pages maximum): A more detailed explanation of the proposed playable work. This can include sketches, diagrams, schematics for the game, installation plans, and other materials that will help the jury understand the details of your proposal.
  2. Impact Statement (1 page maximum): A description of the intended impact or outcomes of the proposed playable work. This should speak to how you hope audiences will engage with and respond to your work. We recommend speaking to the ways in which the project encourages more equitable, diverse, and inclusive understanding of the Bill of Rights.
  3. Budget: detailed explanation of anticipated costs for producing the work. We will provide a template.
  4. References: Names, contact information, and statement of relationship for two people who can serve as a reference. These can be prior collaborators, curators you’ve worked with, professional colleagues, or anyone who can attest to your ability to develop and deliver a project of the proposed scale.

Phase 2 acceptance and rejection notifications will go out late November 2020, with funding distributed no later than early 2021.

Project Background

The United States Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution) are an integral part of U.S. political and legal discourse, and form a core set of beliefs for the socio-political “civil religion” of the United States. The citing of the Bill of Rights in casual conversation among Americans has no parallel in other countries; our understanding, misunderstanding, and varying interpretation of these rights and their implications are foundational to much of what divides us as a nation. By reframing as rights liberties that in the 18th Century were understood as privileges, these amendments provide us with a Ten Commandments in reverse; rather than proscribing the behavior of the individual, they create explicit restrictions on what the higher power (in this case, government) can do with regards to its citizens.

The Ten Amendments offer a framework for ten artists working in these spaces to explore their practice within an explicitly polemical curatorial mandate: how can we use games and play to investigate, problematize, and play with, in some way, the documents that serve as a core of U.S. political identity.

Selection Committee

Deborah Archer (NYU Law)
Salome Asega (Ford Foundation)
Shana T Bryant (Game Developer)
R. Luke DuBois (New York University) ex officio chair
Jessica Hammer (Carnegie Mellon University)
Elizabeth Joh (UC Davis Law)
Laine Nooney (New York University)
Paolo Pedercini (Carnegie Mellon University)
John Sharp (The New School)
Astria Suparak (Independent Curator)

Project Team

R. Luke DuBois (NYU): artistic director
Laine Nooney (NYU): editorial director, selection committee member
John Sharp (TNS): curation and exhibition director, selection committee member
Developed with production support from the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO For Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University.


Resources on the Bill of Rights

Transcript of the Bill of Rights

A transcript of the Bill of Rights and other constitutional documents is available on the website of the national archives. https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/bill-of-rights-transcript

The Interactive Constitution

The interactive Constitution on the website of the national Constitution Center. Clicking through the amendments will take you into both common interpretations and major debates. https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/the-constitution

The More Perfect Podcast

A RadioLab podcast series featuring creative takes on understanding the Bill of Rights. https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolabmoreperfect

FAQ

What is a "playable work"?

Games certainly fit under this label, as do other artworks and experiences that engage a person through structured interactivity: art installations, participatory performances, social practice projects, card games, board games, video games, etc.

Should proposed works be educational?

Our hope is the proposed playable works intrigue and engage audiences in further consideration of the Bill of Rights, but we are not looking for things that are designed as educational instruments. In other words, we are not looking for learning games, nor things that might fall into the category of “games for change,” though we will certainly give such proposals equal consideration.

Do proposed works need to be a videogame?

Definitely not. We encourage proposals for all manner of playable works: board and card games, sports, installation-based works, event scores, playable poems, and yes, things made with and/or played on computers.

How will the selection process work?

All decisions in the review process will be made by the selection committee (listed above). At the conclusion of each phase of the call, the project team will collate all complete submissions, and distribute to the selection committee for review. Selection committee members will numerically rate and write comments on submissions as a first review. Then 30-40 submissions will move forward to phase 2. A similar process will repeat at the end of phase 2, concluding with the selection of one selected and one alternate proposal per amendment.

What kinds of playable works make sense in a gallery?

Given the nature of this exhibition, we want to engage and challenge our audiences as they consider the Bill of Rights. Think about your proposal in terms of what people typically do with objects in gallery and exhibition contexts: walk around, look at, think about, and when possible, engage with. Proposals that require little or no explanation, that have a “pick up and play” quality fare well in galleries. At the same time, there are many challenging and complex works displayed in galleries and exhibition spaces.

What will selected proposals receive?

Each of the ten projects will receive an honorarium of $5,000. Additional material support of up to $1,000 will also be available on a per-work basis. Beyond financial and material support, selected artists will have regular check-ins with the curatorial team to help guide the design and creation of their work.

What are the criteria the curatorial team will use to select works?

We will use the following criteria to select works: sophistication of engagement with one or more amendments; appropriateness for exhibition in a gallery setting; scope and scale of the proposed work within the project’s resources; We particularly encourage proposals from artists and gamemakers of underrepresented and marginalized identities and backgrounds including gender, race, culture, sexuality, citizenship status, and abilities.

What will be expected of selected projects?

The delivery of an exhibition-ready playable work. The curatorial team will work with the artists and gamemakers to figure out what this means for each accepted project.

How is this project funded?

Always a good question to ask. This project was initially proposed by Luke DuBois during a residency at Carnegie Mellon University’s Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. Initial support comes from an anonymous grant via CMU’s development office. As additional funding is secured, we will update this answer.

What is the intellectual property agreement between CMU and the artists?

Thanks for asking. Selected gamemakers and artists will be invited to develop their works with the support of the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon, and will receive an honorarium and small budget for expenses. Upon completion of the work, selected projects will be expected to grant Carnegie Mellon a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to show the resulting works in the exhibition and accompanying catalogue.

Who is eligible to apply?

You are eligible if you are 18 years or older, have a US tax number, and are not a full-time employee, board member, director, officer, or immediate family member of CMU or the project leadership team. We encourage applications from collaborations of two or more people.

Must you be a US citizen to propose a work?

No, though it is necessary to have a US tax ID.

Can a company apply?

No! We are open to proposals from small independent teams that operate under a corporate structure, but we are not open to proposals from for-profit companies of any size or scale.

Will you select more than one game per Amendment?

Our intention is to select only one playable work per Amendment, but we reserve the right to change that based on the proposals received.

Can I submit more than one proposal?

You may submit more than one proposal, but we will not commission more than a single game from any one person or team. So, for example, if you were to submit one excellent proposal on your own, and another excellent proposal as part of a group, we would only consider one of these to move forward into the second phase of the review process.

Can I address multiple Amendments through one playable work?

You can, though at the outset, we lean toward clarity and focus.

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