DOWNLOAD: Networked and Exposed

INTERNATIONAL NOTICE explores interaction online, social platforms, and other modes of connection and art-making.

“I’m gonna come meet you personally, baby!!” screams a man in New York at a group of women in LA, for the first time ever, in 1980. Artists Kit Galloway, Sherrie Rabinowitz set up a life-sized live stream video chat between storefronts in New York City and Los Angeles without explanatory information. Unsuspecting passers-by realised that they were talking to people on the other side of the continent. In the video documentation, people mutter “good gosh”, “it’s just like sitting on the telephone,” and “what a revolution that’s going to be”. At a time when the internet was still in its infancy, the reactions to this social sculpture show how instinctively we react to online interconnectedness. Faced with the possibility of immediate and visual communication with the other side of the American continent, people started doing all things they do today. They held up their babies to be photographed, they flirted, they played games like charades, and they sang songs to the souls on the other side of this Hole in Space.

Here are some more contemporary example of how people have framed the void.

SKYPE

Miao Jiaxin is a New York City-based artist originally from Shanghai. He projected the image of his parents as they watch him shave his head, burn his passport, and then eat a hamburger filled with the ashes. The medium becomes a part of the message. He would have used Skype to communicate with his parents while he was abroad. You can find other interesting instances of skype performances here, here, and here.

OMEGLE and OTHERWISE

So I went on omegle, a kind of chat roulette where you have the choice between text and video, and I chose text. I asked the people I met there if they ever saw people making art on omegle. I asked if they liked art, or if this was a space for art at all. Most people disconnected as soon as I didn’t offer up my age/sex/location and since I don’t have either Snapchat or Kik I didn’t get very far, but even so I managed to have ‘real’ conversations with a handful of people. One girl was from the Philippines, and I told her to follow me on Instagram. I asked her if she thought people could do art on omegle and she said she didn’t know, and then asked for my age. I managed to tell a 16-year-old in Ohio who was in study hall that I didn’t care what gender they were.

If you have not experienced Chatroulette yet then let this be a trigger warning. You will see penises. Chatroulette is a great venue for social research if you are interested in a specific kind of immediacy. If you have ever been frustrated with how people hide what they really want, which on Chatroulette seems to be sex without intimacy, or risk without consequence, then you can finally experience it there. I went and it was a horrible experience, but I did ask a man from Russia who was lip-synching to hardcore metal if he knew that lip-synch was a form most often used in drag. He didn’t react but continued with his performance.

I won’t get into Tinder, Thrinder, and Grindr, but they too are platforms ripe for performative subversion. Dires Vanhoven got beaten up last year thanks to a public Grindr performance that may have violated whatever shreds of online privacy we have left. Here are some echoes that came out of his work Wanna Play? which took place in Kreuzberg last year. Here is another instance of performance makers discussing gay life in Berlin and on Grindr.

SELFIES

The selfie is not a platform for interaction, it’s not a conversation, nor is it a game per se. Rather, selfies are a formal way of transmitting one’s image to a general public. Opinions and experiences of selfies and selfie-taking are extremely varied, but the most polemic discussion on the topic is focused on feminism. Are selfies empowerment or objectification? Do they reproduce a norm or open up a space for norms to be smashed? Here is a long article in favour of them, and here is another against. Lastly, here is a page full of drones taking selfies of themselves.

SECOND LIFE

It’s an old game, and the largest of its kind. You have unlimited freedom to be whoever, live wherever, and do whatever you want, in your Second Life. It’s like a giant virtual chat room with avatars. There are hundreds of art galleries on second life, and in many of them you can buy real physical art. You can also, with the help of an Occulus Rift, experience immersive theatre on Second Life. The adrenaline rush and affective qualities of immersive performance are far from lost in this virtual auditorium. Apparently, the actors rehearsed it on a “private platform in the sky…” There are many second life stories to explore. Search the Drax Files on YouTube, for example. For more basic info go here.

MMORPGs

Question: Are mmorpgs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) the estranged cousins of immersive theatre, or the other way round? After a quick search for the term on YouTube, the potential of digital interfaces to trigger emotion, fantasy, fiction, and anything from the abstract to conceptual to concrete, is immense. But the field seems to be dominated by something already, maybe by capitalism, or by a dark and loud aesthetic, or by a certain kind of adventure experience. Games are not theatre, but perhaps we can learn something from how advanced these technologies are, and how skilled they are at getting their audience involved.

At Performersion there are many ways you can interact with various networks. One basic way is at the INTERNATIONAL NOTICE workshop where you can create online content for the rest of the festival goers to see. You can also create your own digital and intermedial performance with your smart phone. You can experience today’s hole in space with this performative portal.

  1. MAY 2016

Writer: Louise TRUEHEART for INTERNATIONAL NOTICE

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