Only at Arms Length: A Reconstruction of the Paradise Now Score


Paradise Now is truly more than a game. Beneath the fun interactivity of the exhibit lies a profound commentary on humanity. Like everyday life, the gallery offers a broad space where visitors can make decisions based on their circumstances. The game is shockingly liberating: patrons are encouraged to manipulate their horizons however they please. Through that freedom, visitors encounter an accepting environment where wearing a milk carton on your head or screaming through a megaphone is welcomed enthusiastically. In many ways, Paradise Now has created a safe space and a creative habitat.

Ironically, the liberation of game is also one of its constraints. Immersing oneself in Paradise Now is a surrender to limitation: the clock is ticking, self-consciousness is looming, cooperation of a partner is crucial, and the kindness of others is variable. Unless the circumstances are optimal, the freedom of Paradise Now can be its most daunting restriction. In many ways, the paradoxical nature of the game serves as a microcosm for life- choices and the question of free will.

The tension between fate and free will in Paradise Now is a testament to the philosophical, psychological, and creative power of the exhibit. This dimensionality inspired me to reconfigure portions of the score into a poem. The first section of the poem reflects suffocation, while the other savors in release. In the same way that Paradise Now embodies freedom and restraint, so also does my poem represent creativity in the midst of limitations. In life, we also have to stick to the Score, no matter how beautifully vague it may be.

Only At Arms Length: A Reconstruction of the Paradise Now Score

Have you ever closed your mind?

Like a bad habit: stop. scream.repeat.

Down at the ground

when the stages are stacked

Holding onto any moving object


Somethings cannot be learned or granted for your hard work.

Just an infinity of impeccable restraints–

A hunger to know something for certain

How did we get here?


Pick a player

Your task:

Follow your lead

Face the inward windows

silently now, start to

Look up.

Fill your body

Foam on top of foam


Only at arms length.

Sarah Schurman


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