new-york

John Pilson

Nicole Klagsbrun

“You guys ready for some action?” It’s a question that buzzes with edgy excitement, but when the “action” in question turns out to refer to a nightlong game of Dungeons and Dragons, it becomes abundantly clear that the five men who gather around a boardroom table in John Pilson’s video Wisdom and Charisma, 2006, aren’t about to launch into a bacchanal or a desperate fight to the death (though they might imagine them with the help of pencils, paper, and twelve-sided dice). Instead, the Dungeon Master leads them in a densely technical conversation in which alarming revelations such as “Your spies have told you that he’s gating in demons from the Realms of Pandemonium” generally elicit nothing stronger than mild irritation.

The players each appear on separate monitors, and their status as individuals—even as they are immersed in a shared (albeit imaginary) experience—is thereby underscored.

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