Keleti Blokk Blokki Facebook Game as an Example of Non-fiction Literary Flash

Abstract (in English): 

Keleti blok blokki (Hungarian for ‘the apartment blocks of the Eastern Bloc’) is a Facebook social game in which players try to guess the geographical location of apartment blocks featured on screens from Google Street View and other street view services submitted by one of the participants. The game counters the popular belief that apartment blocks looked all alike from Eastern Germany all the way to Vladivostok. In the wider context, the game challenges the perception of the countries forming the Eastern Bloc as one monolith, described by the Western rulers as “the East”.

The aim of the game is to guess in which country the sumbmitted block is located. As the name, Keleti blok blokki, suggests the buildings can come from any location within the keleti bloc. The photos are censored by the submitting player for obvious clues that would make guessing the location too easy. The most frequently erased elements include road signs, signs in general, air conditioners, and national symbols. What remains is architecture and details (curtains, elevation colors, sidewalk curbs), and the general visual context.

Keleti blok blokki constitutes a research subject at the intersection of visual anthropology (from the perspective of the semiotics of urban space mediated by the Google Street View camera), sociology [researching stereotypes about the countries of the Eastern Bloc employed (successfully or not) by the participants of the game], and digital literary studies (the explanations the participants write for their guesses often have the form of short, witty literary descriptions). The presentation will be devoted to the analysis of on these three contexts, with special focus on this last aspect of the phenomenon, considering these short forms as non-fiction literary flash.

(source: ELO 2015 conference catalog)

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Hannah Ackermans