SMU Art Festival, Singapore Management University, 15 January to 12 February 2010
2010, acrylic on corkboard, arrows, hand carved blackboard and chalks. dart board (90×60 cm.), hand carved blackboard (30×45 cm.) installation dimension variable
Billionaire Game is a humorous, metaphorical and political representation of how these outside interests could come to affect or rule the GMS. On a corkboard map/dartboard of the GMS turned sideways, participants play a game of darts with this image of the GMS. Turned on its side, the geographical area of the GMS resembles a bird in flight, though one of its wings lies at a strange angle, as if broken, as if unable to completely soar in the sky.
Since the era of colonial rule in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), the large land area of Thailand, Laos PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar, Yunnan province in China and Vietnam has been divided by national borders. Each country now has its own name, culture and economic system. People, especially the younger generations, have forgotten that this area used to be one continuous area, not divided by the strict borders in place now. In the past, this area was a part of the world that was considered very desirable to colonize and rule by outside powers. Southeast Asia has historically been a pivotal place for exerting power and controlling trade with both Asia and India. The GMS occupies a very important physical and cultural site on the globe and in the global community. The GMS still bears strong traces of this past. Numerous ethnic minorities continue to live in traditional and modern ways throughout the GMS. Once able to move freely from area to area, these ethnic groups are now often divided from friends, family and the rest of their larger group by national borders.
Various efforts are being made to create greater unity, freedom of movement and physical connectivity in the GMS, but even within these initiatives to reduce non-physical barriers, there are complex politics and strong outside interests that effect and shape the present and future of the GMS and its people. One proposed project is to construct several large roads that will cross national borders, such as from China to Malaysia, or Vietnam to Burma. All or most of these proposed roads will go directly through Thailand. This project will hopefully allow for more permissions for peoples to move between one country of the GMS and another, but this project is large and as yet unrealized. Many outside countries that are financially and ideologically supporting the construction of these roads have vested trade interests in being able to move goods through the countries of the GMS. These outside interests will play as much of a role in shaping changes in the GMS as will the benefits of the road construction project.
Furthermore, there have been efforts of the governments of the GMS region to come together to create an “economic corridor” between the discrete countries of the GMS. While these sorts of efforts would hopefully strengthen and unify the GMS and provide energy for stronger cultural exchange, there are a lot of potential problems. In short, the GMS is at the center of pressures coming from many directions, and how it handles these pressures will largely determine whether it can grow in strength in the coming decades and perhaps regain a deeper sense of its pre-existing cultural identity as a single region with great diversity of peoples and resources.
Billionaire Game is a humorous, metaphorical and political representation of how these outside interests could come to affect or rule the GMS.On a corkboard map/dartboard of the GMS turned sideways, participants play a game of darts with this image of the GMS. Turned on its side, the geographical area of the GMS resembles a bird in flight, though one of its wings lies at a strange angle, as if broken, as if unable to completely soar in the sky.
There are 6 countries, or lands, in the GMS (Greater Mekong Sub-Region.) Seen as a whole, the region is shaped like a flying bird and each land forms a part of the bird. In Billionaire Game, individual players or teams “catch” the bird by collecting all of its pieces. The winner is the one who is the first to collect the bird’s 6 parts.Like billionaires coming to purchase property or tourists on vacation, the choices the audience makes in throwing their darts can be seen a metaphor for the complex relationship between the individual and a large-scale view of the region. As the audience “collects” the disparate parts of the region, this highlights the present difficulty to see this once-unified land as whole.To be able to conceive of the GMS as one land would bring many benefits of exchange and free movement to all those living there. In addition to commercial interests, tourism is a big business that deeply affects the culture, economy and the natural ecology of the land. By playing the game, the audience develops a deeper understanding of the whole GMS region and the issues it faces with its boundaries and connections.
Billionaire Game Rules
Billionaire Game is played between two players or two teams. Each team can be made up of two or more people each.
- To determine which team or person is to take her turn first one dart is thrown by a person from each team. The team with the dart closest to the Mekong River takes the first turn.
- Each round consists of 6 throws by each team. Each player throws six darts in her turn.
- Darts must stay on the board at least five seconds after each throw to be counted.After the count is marked on the black board, the player should always remove her own dart so the board is clear before the next throw. If a dart falls out of the board before it is scored or pulled out by the player or team, it collects no land.
- The dart is scored and collects the land where the point enters.If the player has already hit the same land in a previous throw of the same round, that dart does not count and cannot be re-thrown.
- The dart collects 2 lands when the point enters the marked border crossing areas where one can apply for visa when moving between those 2 lands.
- If the dart bounces out of the board or is knocked out, the dart does not count nor may it be re-thrown. This situation can be compared with the person who is exiled or rejected from their land.
- When throwing a dart, a player may lean as far as over the line as they desire, as long as they are not standing with any part of their foot over line. If a foot crosses over the line or a person happens to trip over the line and releases her dart, the throw counts for no points and may not be re-thrown.
- Always give the thrower room to throw, at least two feet. This is out of consideration as well as safety.
- The winner is the one who catches the ENTIRE bird, with all of its 6 parts.If neither player or team collects 6 lands/parts, they must play another round, and continue in this way until a round is won by one team.
- Always begin and end each game with handshake.