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BUGHOUSE is simultaneously a distributed online game, a type of physical board game and a miniature theatre performance played across two identical transparent Plexiglass Dollhouses; one located in Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh and the other in The Dollhouse Space, Heemstede. It proceeds according to the rules of chess which are enacted by human agents in both locations. However, chess knowledge is not a prerequisite to playing; BUGHOUSE skews the notion of winning and is indifferent to the status of the winner.

Within a custom-built website, BUGHOUSE graphically traces online the real-time interactions between a colourful cast of characters mapped to the standard 32 piece chess set. The characters are represented by coloured icons that play across an implied grid underlying the floor-plans of the dollhouse, creating drawings as they move. BUGHOUSE converts a classical chess notation system into stage directions which map the squares of the chess grid to locations relative to (imaginary) objects and items of furniture in the Plexiglass Dollhouses.

More than a fleshy machine-arm, (an inverse of Von Kemplen's Mechanical Turk) the human Agent's subjective interpretation of the Stage Directions and their response to shifting daylight conditions render each live performance/game/drawing naturally accented. A happy collaboration between human and bot.

A Note on the BUGHOUSE design

The BUGHOUSE game is written in javascript and co-opts an adapted version of the Stockfish chess engine. The page also supports twin live-streams courtesy the online gaming platform Twitch and will stream live for the duration of the scheduled games. BUGHOUSE is hosted on uberspace.de, a cloud provider based in Germany. The online BUGHOUSE layout is optimised to display on a 17 inch LED/LCD monitor or 17 inch laptop.

The physical Plexiglass Dollhouse in Sirius, is enjoying a second life, following its first appearance in Art Arcadia in Derry in September 2022. The house in Heemstede has been there since 2020 and is made from 70 percent recycled Plexiglass. The cast of characters are laser cut from Greencast acrylic - a 100 percent recycled plastic product which is 100 percent further recyclable. The 'original' Dollhouse (from which the plans for Plexiglass Dollhouse were extracted) is one instance of a popular product line, manufactured by the Dutch toy firm, Okkerse, in the 1970s, bought for 20 Euro on marktplaats in January 2018.

For further information about The Dollhouse Space, please visit: https://www.thedollhouse.space

For further information about Sirius Arts Centre, please visit: Sirius Instagram