performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed requires the players to undertake a series of simple, repetitive activities that are in themselves relatively pointless. They are simultaneously given additional instructions which affect the way they carry out the tasks, accompanied by music from YouTube playlists matching the search terms ‘concentration music’, ‘work focus music’ and ‘relaxation music’. This constitutes the work of the piece; the players operate within a network of arbitrary rules and constraints, trying–or not–to complete the tasks as best they can. There is no explicitly stated aim or goal for them to achieve, and the piece explores how following instructions can be an end in itself. Any sense of purpose emerges from their choices and the way they respond to the tasks, and in the way these actions are viewed. The title comes from David Graeber’s book Bullshit Jobs (2018). It is well worth reading.
Commissioned by Hochschule für Musik Basel/FHNW. First performed by participants in the SPIEL! Games as Critical Practice festival at Foyer Public, Theater Basel on 29 January 2023.
Score preview below or download from the scores page.