Dead Minutes

Dead Minutes
Dead Minutes live session at STRP festival, Eindhoven. Credit: Giovanni Salice.
An interactive storytelling game about scale, time, organisation and the Afterlife.

Tom K Kemp
I am a British-born artist, writer, filmmaker and roleplaying game designer based in the Netherlands.
Field of work
Design, Visual Art, Communication, Research, Other
Project category
Raising awareness
Project submitted

Tom K Kemp is a British artist based in Amsterdam. He employs roleplaying game design, animation and filmmaking to tell collaborative stories about the relationships between complexity and the humans who constitute it. Improvised plots, dialogue, and performances are generated for works which combine genre fiction with simulation, engaging with self-organisation, problems of scale, conceptual metaphor, and models of the world.

He has exhibited at La Casa Encendida (Madrid) EYE Filmmuseum, Veem House, (Amsterdam) the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Hamburg), the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne, STRP festival Eindhoven and Dutch Design Week, and is a recent alumni from the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (Amsterdam). His projects have been supported by the Mondriaanfonds, Stimuleringsfonds, NL, the British Arts Council, Triangle-Asterides (Marseille), and Rupert Residency (Vilnius).

Dead Minutes is a roleplaying game which takes place in a speculative Land of the Dead. Players collectively worldbuild their own version of an undesirable afterlife, and then represent a group of dead people from different points in history, who are attempting to organise, reform and potentially escape their conditions. Combining mythological allegory with material analysis, the game generates storytelling, debate and speculation regarding scale, history of technology, social organisation, structural change, deep time and ‘wicked problems’.

The game takes about 2.5 hours to play, and can involve 3-6 people at at time.

My artistic practice and research are grounded in the utilization of roleplaying games as tools for researching and exploring paradoxical or seemingly impossible collective questions. Through the design and facilitation of these games, I engage participants in imaginative inquiries into alternative worlds and scenarios. This approach allows for a unique exploration of complex topics, enabling participants to think critically about real-world issues in metaphorical or allegorical contexts.

I developed this game as a tool for thinking through the challenging subjects of implementing structual change, operating at scale, and dealing with the complexity of large groups of people. The afterlife in the game becomes a metaphor for a plurality of subjects chosen by the players: for example, a group of architects playing will create a very different land of the dead, with different problems to solve and different ways of solving them, than a group of governance designers.

Through the support of LINA, I would hope to further distribute the game within other disciplines beyond the art world, and organise sessions of it to be played in different contexts - for example with groups of architects and social engineers. The audio of these sessions could be recorded, edited and distributed for a wider audience.