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decisions, decisions

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Feb 2016 Shift/Work (Neil Mulholland, Dan Brown) Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International


Performed by Shift/Work at: Listaháskóli Íslands Sept 2016 | Malmo Art Academy April 2016 | ESW Feb 2016

Shift/Work Decisions, Decisions


This workshop helps participants comprehend how their decisions impact upon their peers (and vice versa) to foster meta-congnition. Working in a small group, Shift/Workers collectively engage in a series of simple creative tasks. These tasks have been designed by a group of artists specifically to heighten their awareness of play and reciprocity in the learning process. They will not be assisted by a ‘facilitator’. To complete each task, Shift/Workers will have to be imaginative and resourceful, working closely together and learn from each other.


Decisions, Decisions is predicated on a ludic theory of ‘decisions’ as reciprocal and enmeshed game-rules governing how actants interact. Playing the game leads to the rules being revised and updated, offering fresh game-theoretic insights. This learning experiment is autotelic rather than goal-oriented. It creates the illusion of goals (The Great MacGuffins: build something, make lunch, go on walk…) to encourage double-loop learning. Participants will, thus, be more critically conscious of goal-oriented and outcome based approaches to learning and their concomitant technocracies.


Shift/Work: Decisions, Decisions was composed by a group of Shift/Workers taking part in Workshop/Workshop (a workshop composed by Neil Mulholland and Dan Brown.) It was beta-tested by a group of artists at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop in February 2016 over one day. The workshop was supported by The Institute for Academic Development’s Innovative Learning Week, The University of Edinburgh.


Materials x 2 of the following:

Shift/Workers: >12 participants 

Decisions, Decisions Playing Cards (OER PDF, right>>>)


Flat-pack sets of drawers

Screwdriver, hammer, junior hacksaw, gaffa tape, string, bradawl.

Portable Gas Stove and Gas Cartridge

Small Camping Pots

Camp Kettle

Basic camp kitchen equipment: Knives, spoon, spatula

Fruit, Vegetables, oil, water (for preparation by each group):


How to Orienteer (OER PDF, right>>>)

[Break] where a comfort break is listed, it must be taken at a pre-determined time. 


  • Induction (5mins)


Shift/Workers should arrive unprepared. They convene in a common space and are immediately split into two groups. The space is divided simply by a wall, screen, curtain or by placing tape on the floor to form two distinctive ‘courts’.


An observer gives each group an identical set of envelopes which are time-stamped (e.g. 9:00hrs; 10:00hrs). They are instructed to open them at the appropriate time, read and follow the instructions inside.


  • Build (>1hr)


x 2 identical flat-pack sets of drawers will have been laid out on a bench in the space in advance of the workshop. The instructions and boxes thrown should be discarded. Each element will be piled up to create a repository of de-contextualised materials (e.g. drawer fronts, screws, dowels, etc.)


Shift/Workers open the first envelope. Inside is a card bearing the word ‘BUILD’.


To obtain a material from the bench, each group of Shift/Workers must wait their turn in a queue. They can only take away a material once the other group have done so (an observer should oversee that this happens). This slows down the process of taking materials used in the build.


The process continues for one hour. The next set of cards are then drawn from the envelope.


  • Cooks/Chefs (>2hrs)


The cards instruct the group to make lunch and have it ready in precisely 2hrs. Ingredients are limited, as are the cooking tools (single burner, limited water supply, one knife, etc.) The group will have to figure out how to approach this task in a way that does not waste time and energy or hog their limited resources. Will they be cooks or chefs?


After two hours the Shift/Workers open the third envelope. This instructs them to swap sides and eat the food prepared by the other group.


- [Break] 45mins


Shift/Workers swap spaces and eat the lunch provided for them by the other group.


  • Walk (>2.5hrs)


After lunch, the Shift/Workers open the fourth envelope. This informs them that they will be orienteering to work off their lunch. The route will be designed for them by the other group.


First, they must first design a 45min orienteering route for the other group. They are provided with:


  • a stopwatch

  • Orienteering Made Simple (a small PDF pamphlet guide)


The group have 1.5 hrs to devise and playtest a 45min orienteering route for other group. 


[Break 10mins]


The groups reconvene to swap instructions. The orienteering routes are then completed within 50mins.


Both groups reconvene as one to check-in their waypoint markers and to discuss their decisions (and ‘fumbled rolls’) collectively (15mins)



- ShareAlike


Shift/Work Unlearning is licensed CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 2012 Shift/Work (Neil Mulholland and Dan Brown) Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International You may remix, tweak, and build upon this score non-commercially, as long as you credit you and license your new creations under the identical terms. To enable your workshops to be convened at a later date Shift/Supervisors are asked to share their group’s scores with Shift/Work via email.

Shift/Work will add new Unlearning compositions to the Shift/Work website as a CC BYNC- SA 4.0 licensed OER.

Supported by:

    Innovative Learning Week

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