Having a chance to participate in this cyberformance is definitely one of the highlights of Media and Performance class. By being the key performers of this segment in the symposium, we can better understand some of the concepts illustrated in class regarding performance art and the third space.
w r now[here] allows us to work with a real cyber performance artist, Helen Varley Jamieson. Rehearsals and preparations were connected through Adobe Connect, in true virtual fashion. For two weeks, we went through rehearsals using our mobile phones, testing webcams and our connection settings. Even though the performance takes place online, it is also crucial to take into account real-life circumstances. One of the most important points to take note during our performance was not to show our faces or to show each other. Taking that into consideration, my classmates and I had to make sure that our starting point, the “nowhere” are relatively far away from each other. There were a few of us situated at every level and corner of the school. Eventually, we have to meet in the lobby to slowly make our way to the theatre. This part of the performance was rather tricky as we were already gathered in a group. Yet, we took care to remain out of each other’s viewfinders. It is quite fun and required some improvisation: some of us pointed our cameras to the ceilings, some focused on other people in that area, and then some of us kept our cameras focused on one object. I think we succeeded in this area, after looking at our performance on Vimeo.
Another key point to note is definitely the technical difficulties faced. The university network was down just minutes before the performance was to go live, and we had a little collective moment of panic. Thankfully, the technical situation was fixed quickly. During our rehearsals and our mobile cam exercises that led up to the performance, we also encountered various technical failures such as unable to log in to Adobe Connect. Fortunately, all of us performers were located in the same space during the day of the performance and we made use of the same connection during the actual performance, so we didn’t have these issues.
One important takeaway from this performance was my understanding of some of the artworks discussed in class. For weeks, we discussed about cyborgs, the body as an instrument, the telematic embrace and the third space. One of the works I critiqued in this class was Robert Whitman’s American Moon. After the performance, I felt I could understand Whitman’s work better. Here’s a description of the work from the syllabus page:
“Whitman created a multi-dimensional theater environment that gave viewers differing perspectives on action taking place in a central theatrical area.”
I would liken the sectioning of the audience in Whitman’s work to our webcams during the performance, especially during the moment when we gathered together at last in the theater space, our cameras pointing at the audience.
The audience became part of the work, forming an interesting multidimensional collage. I felt that all the concepts covered during the first half of the semester culminated in this moment during the performance, and I thought it was an absolutely amazing to see how it all came together to form such an interesting piece of networked performance.