Lila is a Sanskrit-origin word describing the Universe as the outcome of cosmic play. It is about fate — whether the paths of our lives are pre-determined or up to us. But it is also an invitation to see beauty in the unexpected outcomes of systems sparking change in our Universe.

Micro-Fiction Game, Random Fortune Generators, and Visions of the Future all root themselves in Lila. Installed at the Brooklyn Museum as part of a group show with the South Asian Womxn’s Creative Collective, Micro-Fiction Game was a game board of about 750 unique events on lime green, red, copper, and light blue adhesive vinyl squares, laid out and evenly spaced grids on the glass tiles of the Beaux Arts Court. Some of the events were mundane, others were fantastical, some were about family, others were about sensory experiences.

At the beginning, creators picked a penny with a number on it. They knew the number stood for one of about 900 emotions, but they didn’t yet know which one. They were invited to put their penny down on an event on the game board. Some people pick events that were connected to their real lives or experiences; others related to things they wished for; others purely imaginary. At the other end of the board, they found out which emotion their number stood for and were invited to write a simple story making sense of the two together.

For example: I am waiting for something, and it makes me feel sorrow, because…

In addition to striking stories, creators expressed shock and surprise, as if the game read their minds, or shared a hidden layer to their emotions that they hadn’t fully realized, such as shame at thinking about someone they shouldn’t be; fear at seeing their infant for the first time, as they realized the beautiful fragility of this new life. In this version of the game, I also coded events by number and invited people the lottery with their 6 events. Although no one won, the thread of hidden cosmic patterns in my work continues.

My first proposal was to design Micro-Fiction Game outside the entrance of the Brooklyn Museum. Public and outdoor projects – despite all of the huge challenges that come with them – offer opportunities for creativity for people who aren’t able to make art a destination. But the Brooklyn Museum welcomed creators to post stories anywhere in Beaux Arts Court, allowing them to see their words side-by-side with the museum’s collection and loosening the barriers between objects and viewers.

Anjali Deshmukh, Artist.
Micro-Fiction Game.
Mixed Media, Pervasive Installation. 2014. In Brooklyn Museum.
With support and facilitation by Ernest Verrett & Uma Deshmukh, and as part of South Asian Women’s Creative Collective.
Photo by Chasi Annexy.

How It Worked

In the video below, see a step by step flow of one process in this game, as well as as participant outcomes of play.

Micro-Fiction Game_Anjali-Deshmukh from Anjali Deshmukh on Vimeo.