Hyperessay #1: Concepts in Social Broadcasting

It is amazing how fast our world is evolving every single day with the emergence of new technology and innovations in telecommunication. Physical and social activities that we once thought could only be carried out in the real world are slowly shifting into the virtual, and perhaps, transcending its possibilities. Internet Art & Culture has brought me to new levels of realization and understanding with what I could do with the virtual space as an artist, and as an individual. Telecommunication is no longer simply a platform to converge distance between people but also a tool used for the experimentation and expression of one’s self. The very concept of Social Broadcasting encourages both participation and collaboration. And with the convenience of access to the internet anywhere you are in the world today, every single one of us is included.

One of my favourite topics discussed so far in class is Collective Narrative. Storytelling is one of the most primitive forms of art and expression. Storytelling is a form of communication, granting us the ability to relate to one another. Storytelling is used almost everywhere – in film, music, theater, literature… and the list goes on! With Collective Narrative, storytelling can be done by merging similar or differing ideas from two or more parties into one collaborative episode.

Hole-in-Space (1980)

I got really inspired from the Collective Narrative work, Hole-in-Space (1980), done by media artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz. Hole-in-Space is a public communication sculpture, that went on for a total of three nights, consisted of two huge screens , a two-way satellite hookup, and two cameras that were set up in the streets of two cities in the United States – one in Los Angeles, and the other in New York. The idea of using telecommunication to bridge the physical distance between people from different cities, and bring them together to interact in one cohesive space in real-time was genius. With no prior information released to the public, they got passers-by to participate enthusiastically in an exchange of words and visuals to form their own collective narrative.

The “Collective Body” Project

Prior to this topic, we were tasked to participate in the Collective Body project to prepare ourselves for the class. Over the course of six days, we were tasked to post one photo of six of the body parts (head frontal, both profiles, both hands, upper body) each day in any sequence we choose to on the image-hosting website, Flickr. At the end of the assignment, the posts will result in a collective ‘randomized’ grid-by-grid archive of our photos. This assignment has allowed us to share a single narrative generated everyone. I enjoyed the idea of not knowing what to expect after I submitted my post online from the rest of my classmates. The anticipation led to an incredible end-product, where all our individual narratives intertwine to create a colossal body of work – uncoordinated yet very cohesive!

Adobe Connect Web-conferencing

The class we had that was held in the third space, Adobe Connect Web-conferencing, was definitely one of my favourite lessons in the past weeks. The notion of a virtual classroom with everyone being in each others’ remote spaces and coming together in Adobe Connect (the third space) to have our class was a whole new experience for me. Unlike regular class where the sharing opinions about different subject matters might seem a little pressurizing and uncomfortable for some, the online class obliged us to communicate differently as we took turns to hear from one another. And as a result, it became an effective way to get everyone to participate in the lesson. Everyone was able to stay engaged and conducive despite being in the comfort of our own homes/physical spaces.

Cross-Stream Broadcasting by Mirei & Anam

The Cross-Stream Broadcasting assignment that my project partner, Mirei, and I worked on is a culmination of what we have learned so far, and especially of all the topics and works that I have discussed in my hyperessay. We decided to play a game of “Simon Says” for our live broadcast on Facebook where Mirei, who was streaming via laptop with her Desktop Mise-en-Scene set up while I was on mobile, gave me instructions on what to do on camera while pictures were shown within her desktop space. There was an element of storytelling when the two videos were played together where our narratives converged to create a collective work. We were both interacting with one another, with the people around us, and with the props we came across along the span of our live video. The most interesting part of our videos for me was when Mirei asked me to guess the animal (a sloth) shown on her screen and at that very moment, my friend who was featured in my live video coincidentally emulated the likes of the sloth.

The syllabus has given me a holistic view of what social broadcasting really is, garnering endless possibility and creativity in our daily use of the internet. I feel that at the rate we are going, telecommunication is the future of the existing mediums we have to create art and performance.

Link to Cross-Stream Broadcast: https://thirdspacenetwork.com/cross-stream-mirie-anam/

Research Critique: The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence

“The 1s and 0s of digital art degrade far more rapidly than traditional visual art does, and the demands of upkeep are much higher.”

– Melena Ryzik in “When Artworks Crash: Restorers Face Digital Test”,
The New York Times

If there is one thing “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence”, an internet piece created by artist Douglas Davis in 1994, could teach us is that the preservation of any form of artwork or performance done in the cyber space is as equivalently important as, the preservation of traditional artwork such as paintings, sculptures and artifacts that we have up in museums.

The artwork, which began with “I DID NOT FEEL SEPARATED I FELT VERY CLOSE EVEN THOUGH WE WERE THOUSANDS OF MILES APART,” motivated users from all over the world to participate and have their inputs contributed into a never-ending chain of messages that varied in thoughts, motives and languages. It was a platform that encouraged communication and interaction between people coming from different remote spaces to be done in one collective space. The piece collated a total of 200,000 contributions in a matter of 5 years, before the shifting in computer servers put it to a complete stop.

“… a seemingly simple technology-based artwork can go very, very wrong when it is not properly cared for, or when parts of the work are not collected at all.”

– Michael Connor in “Restoring ‘The World’s First Collaborative Sentence”, Rhizome Blog

From the text above, we could see how fragile online artwork is especially with the advancement in new technology and how the ciphering of codes gets lost due to encoding damages. Take for example, backing up works on the computer is essential to ensure that we are still be able to access those files in the event that any unpredictable technical issues come into play.

When curators from Whitney Museum of American Art attempted their restoration efforts on “Sentence”, it is found that the change in servers has led to several technical problems in the artwork itself. Words that were typed in Korean in the Hangul text were degraded as indecipherable garbled text and to this day are left not able to be decoded. Sustaining online art is not only important, but also comes with its own challenges and difficulties.

However, Whitney Museum of American Art managed to resolve this issue by having the frozen original version exhibited as well as providing a new live version of “Sentence” to act as a platform for users who are still interested in contributing to the ongoing quest to create a never-ending collaborative sentence. I feel that this is a great way for Whitney Museum to sustain online art such as the one discussed above. With this a fast-moving technological world that we live in, we could raise our efforts in taking better care of online works, having precautionary measures taken into consideration, to ensure the preservation of great works like “Sentence”. Online artwork is starting to emerge to have similar significance to traditional artwork. We should also start preserving them like how we would to ancient artifacts and paintings.



Desktop Mise-en-Scene

Try not to laugh while drawing

Posted by Anam Musta'ein on Thursday, 14 September 2017


The aim of my live broadcast on Facebook was to get through completing a drawing on Photoshop while the “Skype Laughter Chain” YouTube video played in the background without laughing. I have stacked three webcam video captures on the left side on the screen to allow my viewers to see my reaction, the YouTube video and Photoshop placed in the middle of the screen, and a live Twitter feed on the right to allow my viewers to read real-time tweets that contain the word ‘laugh’.

I wanted to balance elements of play and seriousness within my desktop screen and observe how two state of emotion coming from extreme ends of the spectrum come together to create a cohesive virtual space.

Research Critique: Bold3RRR by Jon Cates

Bold3RRR is a performance piece by Jon Cates that “combines art with real-time rendering across international timezones in fragments, errors, and overlaps”. Jon managed to display what he deems as “dirty new media” using the space bounded within his desktop screen and design it in a way where it all comes together as a cohesive visual. In Bold3RRR, he toggles between his camera, websites, images, videos and type concurrently, with noise playing in the background, to show how glitches could be used in a broadcasted performance and be aesthetically pleasing to the viewers.

Bold3RRR adopts the use of Desktop as Mise-en-scene by stage designing the props (videos, pictures, web pages, music, windows, webcam images) in a position, area, and sequence, to create a new form of act in cyber space. The use of feedback loops and the organization of his desktop screen goes hand in hand with his intent of showing how glitches could directly associate to reality. The fragmented content that he receives and in return chose to exhibit plays into his idea of “dirty new media”.

In Randall’s conversation with Jon, he mentions how we are living in a techno-social culture and that technology could be socially performed. Our everyday performance with technology has made it more human and has made it part of our lives. I felt that he was blurring the lines between the virtual world and reality itself in a sense that machines are as capable of making mistakes as us humans do. That made these glitches, or so called imperfections, in his performance more acceptable and, perhaps, beautiful too.

“There is a non-neutrality of techno-social artifacts + contexts, that our technologies are not neutral, also that they are embedded, they are part of our lives, + that embeddedness has the word bed in there, we are in bed w/ them also, so they’re embedded in ways that are complex. they are not sterile, they’re imperfect, they are not clean, b/c they exist in the world, which is also imperfect.

– Jon Cates, “Glitch Expectations: A Conversation with jonCates”

I could see how the desktop could be portrayed as going beyond just screen space. It acts as a stage and it is a new avenue for us to create countless possibilities with the advances in technology.

Process: Delving into Houdini

Visual Inspiration

I was mesmerized by this video that I came across over the weekend. The look and feel of the visuals are pretty similar to what I have envisioned for myself. However, I was not really able to catch the steps involved to achieve it because I am not particularly familiar with Houdini just yet and the video was overly sped up.


I have started getting myself orientated to Houdini since I’ll be rendering most of my visuals for the media art wall from it. I’ve watched some tutorials online and tested out deformation of objects as well as fluid particles. The videos below are what I have achieved and progressed so far. However, I’ve not yet figured out the exact components that could be used to achiever the look I’m going for for the final project.

I am still figuring out how to work around the software and how I could incorporate the features available into my project. After consulting with Pamela, I have gotten more insight on the interface of the software itself and other components that might come in handy to produce the look that I aim to have. She has also provided me useful links to online forums and tutorials that could help me with experimenting more looks to go about with the textile patterns and motifs.

Reflection: Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect was a great way to conduct our class in because it was a whole new experience for all of us. With the exception of some technical difficulties in the initial part of setting up the online portal and minor connection problems along the way, I felt that it was an effective way to get everyone to participate in the lesson.

We took turns to speak and each of us were given time to share our opinions about The Collective Body project that we worked on over the week leading up to the class. I felt that it was a step forward from the static photographs that were posted on Flickr, especially since we are able to see each other live in a cohesive space, interacting with one another. The participation was unlike the ones we have during class in the physical world because with Adobe Connect, we were all in the comfort of our own homes/location in front of our computer screens.

Perhaps the third space could possibly be the future of the modern classroom setting. All of us were able to stay engaged and conducive despite being in remote spaces.

Here’s a screenshot of all of us in our “masks”:

We can’t possibly achieve this in our usual physical space, now can we? (;

Research Critique: Hole-in-Space (1980)

“Hole–In–Space suddenly severed the distance between both cities and created an outrageous pedestrian intersection. There was the evening of discovery, followed by the evening of intentional word-of-mouth rendezvous, followed by a mass migration of families and trans–continental loved ones, some of which had not seen each other for over twenty years.”

“The Social Machine: Designs for Living Online” by Judith Donath

Hole-in-Space has allowed the public to be comfortable to interact with strangers. The project by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz was a remarkable milestone in showing how telecommunication could bridge the physical distance between people from different places, and bring them together to interact in one cohesive space, live. The public communication sculpture, that went on for a total of three nights, consisted of two huge screens , a two-way satellite hookup, and two cameras that were set up in two different cities in the United States – one in Los Angeles, and the other in New York.

Without any prior information or any artist’s statement for the installation, the video that went live on the first night caught pedestrians and passer-by’s by surprise. The people were able to see and speak to each other with no media interruptions or any self-viewing cameras that might have made them overly self-conscience and impede them from genuine communication.

Viewers from the first night were so enthralled from the encounter that word-of-mouth and local news reports soon brought long-distant friends and families, whom in some cases have not seen one another in years, together in one space. For some, it led to several planned meetings on the second and third nights, bringing joy to many who were finally able to see their loved ones. While for others, the virtual space became a medium to integrate other forms of interaction fearlessly and spontaneously.



“A virtual space creates social situations without traditional rules of etiquette. The absence of the threat of physical harm makes people braver. Virtual space diminishes our fears of interaction.”

“Welcome to ‘Electronic Cafe International’: A Nice Place for Hot Coffee, Iced Tea, & Virtual Space” (1992)

The reading highlighted one very important point Physical interactions often complies to the rules of social norms. The consideration of whether a certain behavior is socially acceptable or not often comes with everyday physical interactions. Some people might even be a little shy and awkward to express themselves when it comes to such. And these social bounds that we have contrived ourselves into hinders us from free expression. However, interactions in the virtual space breaks that mold. People tend to be far more spontaneous and candid with their social interactions in the third space.

Take Hole-in-Space for example; passer-by’s in the streets would not usually stop to communicate with each other. It took a huge screen, with people from a different geographical location, to allow them to be comfortable with saying “hello” and to express themselves. Virtual space is allowing people to be comfortable to interact with strangers.