Zero Sum is an instructional video, and a role-playing installation. The audience are asked to role play a part in a simulated a classic social dilemma that models cooperation and non-cooperation. Seated around a table participants are guided through the dilemma by an on screen avatar. Zero Sum explores how software driven computational systems impact human behaviour and how computational and mathematical models have also been used to predict behaviour. The artwork uses a mix of testimony from workers whose jobs are in automated environments such as call centres and a classic game theory dilemma: The Volunteer’s Dilemma (often referred to as The Free Rider Problem in economics). Zero Sum is an anti-game in which the audience’s choices and decisions are scripted and made for them so that their experience echoes that of the workers testimony they are listening to.
Rod Dickinson is Senior Lecturer / Programme Leader for Creative Media Design at UWE and a member of the Digital Cultures Research Centre. His digital and performative artworks have explored digital processes and media feedback systems, often focusing on historical moments that have clear parallels with the present. His artworks have been exhibited at Bethlem Museum of the Mind, London (2017), Hayward Gallery, London (2012), Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2010), Kunst-Werke Insititute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2007).