Starry Heavens is a game that incorporates a life-sized gameboard of 67 steel plates and ten large-scale, helium-filled meteorological balloons.

It is a social and strategic game that is also a moral fable – for one Ruler and any number of silent players. The Ruler stands in the center and calls out “BLACK,” “WHITE,” or “GRAY” – commanding the other players how to move. The game creates a stylized dance, as players shift about the gameboard, working with and against each other to overthrow the Ruler.

The game unfolds within a space defined by the gigantic hovering balloons. The Ruler’s goal is to stay in power long enough to pull down a central helium balloon.

A later staging of the game in Berlin incorporated a live band that improvised along with the Ruler’s commands, making the Ruler the conductor of a procedural musical experience.

Daniel Wilson · with music by Michael Sweet

Photo credits:
Rebecca Jones, Philip Reuta, Abigail Simon, Raymond Yeung

Large-scale physical game

Collaboration with:
Game designer Eric Zimmerman

Originally commissioned for:
ARCADE  ·  event organized by Kill Screen

Museum of Modern Art’s sculpture garden · New York City

27 July 2011