The Chance Event, a conference/happening that took place in 1996 at Whiskey Pete's Casino. Organized by Chris Kraus, and sponsored by Art Center College of Design and the French Cultural Services.
"In 1996 at Whiskey Pete’s Hotel & Casino, Chris Kraus organized the Chance Event: “a three-day philosophy rave in the Nevada desert.” It was a convergence of the art world with philosophers, poets, and musicians in what was meant to be the Burning Man of French theory."
"On the one hand," Richard Hertz recalls, "it was about the ArtCenter grad program, legitimizing what was going on there, but on the other it was, Here's Baudrillard, the shaman and the showman. Because at that moment, to me, it wasn't really about the talks that were given, exactly. The most important part was lots of people coming from all over by chance and interacting. That's what it was. It wasn't about simulating anything, it was about regenerating a new context. It was a sort of dreamscape in which we were generating new ideas and new contexts and insights, and the insights were not just about the art world.
"To me, the most interesting thing is generating new insights about our own lives and where we want to go with them. We needed some event to get us all together at one time—a non-linear dreamscape. Baudrillard writes somewhere that he hopes to make death the stake at the basis of an indefinite game—well, maybe life is the indefinite game and death is the one thing we know, and Chance was like an indefinite game. This ties into something very important about Sylvére Lotringer and Baudrillard as well—at some point they realized, theory is all very nice but it's not an end in itself, it has to integrate into one's life. It has to make a difference somewhere; it's not about endless word mongering.
"Wittgenstein says that at some point you have to throw away the ladder that you've used to reach thje second floor, and just start living with enhanced consciousness. So it seemed to me The Chance Event was a sort of encouraging people to do just that. I don't remember what Baudrillard talked about. I remember three hundred people lying on the floor.