Seeing the humans behind any work always comes with an air about the whole scenario, ‘These are the people behind what I’ve been seeing’.

Despite being new to their work, seeing the people behind Second Front was no different.

And it’s made even more tantalizing by the fact that there’s the opportunity that I’ll be able to hear from the artists themselves, especially so when there are parts of the works that I don’t fully understand.

While I didn’t personally ask any questions, though I had a few in mind, I find that hearing from the artists themselves helps give a good look into how they function, how their thought patterns go about arranging themselves and in turn, their everyday gives an understanding into their artworks.

Something that didn’t occur to me, was the idea that they’d have backlash. Jeremy Turner/FIimflam (a name that got stuck in my head for a bit) even bringing up a case where a guy was said to be able to “see his IP address” and in turn knows where he lives and is gonna come and kill him. In retrospect, considering cyber-bullying is a thing, I should’ve realized it happened even in a less objective oriented game.

Patrick Lichty had a statement that I thought was quite well put, that it’s all about affect. What is performance art with the body the body removed? This was a question he had going into this foray in the virtual space with performance art. Which was a little eye-opening, and in retrospect once again feels like it should have been more obvious, the fact that artists venture into spaces that they themselves have questions about. But in regards to the body being removed from performance, it’s interesting, ultimately despite having happened in virtual space, it’s easily forgotten that there are indeed people and lives behind the polygons wiggling around on screen, that “it is real, there are stakes, and it’s what’s important for performance art” (in regards to virtual performance art having affect)

Lastly, Bibbe Hansen talked about the idea of community, and the just how enriching and rewarding it’s been to meet all the people around the world. It’s just made me realize that the internet’s ability to do so (in it’s full capacity), is really lost on me and perhaps my generation too (it was also really heartening to see how real it is to her). They grew up in the times before it was possible to, and have entered the world after it in full force as well. It’s no wonder there’s endless praise sung to it’s virtue to connect to anyone online at any moment through a multitude of different avenues.

It was also incredible that she even rubbed shoulders with Andy Warhol himself, ON TOP of being Beck’s mother.

Bibbe Hansen and Andy Warhol

In research I did recently for a presentation of Performance Art, I read that some performance artists consider re-performances of their work to be entirely different pieces apart from the original. In utilizing previous works by different artists and by bringing them into the virtual world of Second Life, I do believe that Second Front has indeed made the works their own.

But firstly I think the distinction they drew is important.

some people in Second Life might confuse us with a “performing arts” group rather than a “performance arts” group.

I’d say that Performance Art is closer linked to the Conceptual Art movement, where the idea/concept are the focus rather than the “traditional aesthetic, technical, and material concerns”, as opposed to the Performing arts (Not to say that the performing arts doesn’t have those elements occasionally as well).

And it’s easy to see these ties when as stated by Randall Packer

Grand Theft Avatar is a critical challenge to Second Life, questioning the authenticity of its currency, rules, and “lifestyle”

Which goes to show the thought provoking effect of their performances. Ideas sparked in the virtual world are ideas sparked in the real world.

THE ABSOLUTELY LAST (AND FINAL) SUPPER by Second Front + Link to the Vid

There’s also a certain beauty in what they’ve done to Second Life. As they said, most of what goes on in there is “shop, make friends online and participate in a virtual economy.” With the creators not setting a goal or end game, it ended up being a replication of the consumerist side of real life. But Second Front questions the “underlying assumptions of Second Life and what it means to be a virtual being in that space”. which I quote because I think it encapsulates the idea very well. So it’s kind of funny that while Second Life doesn’t have hard set rules and goals, they still broke the mould.

It made me wonder if what they do could be done in other online communities such as MMORPGS (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games). But I kept running into the limits of the world set by the game, whereas Second Life allows users to create and sell and spawn in their own virtual items which opens up so much more possibilities. However, this does not mean that it cannot be done in other programs/games.

NPC on the left, Real player on the right

MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft (WOW) have servers dedicated to Role-playing, where the people playing are “in-character” so to speak. They talk like their character would and not only that, but some people imitate the Non-player Characters (NPCs) such as imitating the guards that patrol the city; even getting the look down to the armour pieces.

2 Mins onward is where you can see them in-action. + another example

While seemingly odd at first, perhaps it’s not so different from Second Life. Virtual spaces and especially games are known for their use as an escape from the real world, and yet, Second Life predominantly appears to be a replication of the world outside. But it of course, has the draw of having no real world repercussions, and this has allowed Second Front to carry out a “bank robbery” something I don’t think a real world performance artist would be easily be able to even have the opportunity to do. But now from concept to execution, it can be done to even the most ordinary individual. Other issues that plague the real world artist such as location, space and budget constraints are also cast aside.

Second Life seems to be the prime virtual location for Performance Art in it’s flexibility and ability to replicate real world situations and happenings.

And sometimes, perhaps a little too much.


sch assignment

Posted by Songyu Bao on Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Today, Bao and I did a Facebook, co-broadcast where we continued our exploration of juxtaposing the same object next to each other. The difference being, that unlike the first time where we were both present in school and generally in the same area, this time we were in completely different places, our homes.

I’d say it was a great success, I thought that the visuals we came up with were surprisingly good. This was also a good an interesting look into the everyday common items that we “all have”. That being said, not everyone has a tv, or a couch, or even a home. So perhaps it’d be interesting used as an interesting visual to use for a campaign to promote the disparity in the lives of others. But in general, it does bring to mind how the same objects can differ.

It was also interesting to see people commenting and a reminder from a friend that “i can just talk” to reply instead of typing like i did in the first few mins of the broadcast. People whom I’ve never connected with in awhile also surprisingly showed up to watch, I found it interesting just in the fact that they popped in. (I also found it much easier to interact with them on the phone vs on the desktop). Made me wonder about how often our content is being seen by people, even if they dont comment or leave a like. Video makes it more apparent especially in view counts. After the video was done, it already had 27 views; and upon linking it to this post, it had grown to 42 views. To me that’s pretty incredible, that sort of growth and reach that everyday people can already reach a considerable number of people in such a short time.


I find it very hard to be natural in front of a camera, I feel myself stiffen up and I don’t feel like I can make many gestures. I often see the same thing happening with other people whenever a camera gets swung towards them. Hence, I often feel that anyone who does appear on camera, more often than not, is curating their image of themselves; both consciously and unconsciously. But generally speaking I find it hard to guesstimate what the split between the two are.

In the case of Jennicam, it seems very much like the intention was to be as “real” as possible, going so far as to copulate in front of the camera. She also started charging people for entry to her site a few months in and it often heard cry that once people start charging money it’s “disingenuous”. I personally don’t agree with that claim, and I’d wager that it stems from people who just don’t want to pay for things.

On the streaming site Twitch, once popular enough, Streamers can get a ‘subscribe‘ button where the viewer is charged $4.99 to support the streamers they like. There are numerous other methods to support the streamer such as amazon referral links and even direct donations. A recent addition would be Cheering, which really just is a fancier way of donating with built in-animations.

But prior to that streamers already had their own animation overlay whenever someone donated or subscribed. Below are examples of a ‘sub’ animation and an example of a twitch streamer’s layout, showing previous donations and recent subscribers. The layouts are not fixed and can look however the streamer wants them to look like.

In David Letterman’s interview with Jennifer, he brought up a point that people are really lonely, desperate and miserable and want to reach out and I think this is quite often the case. Although I don’t frequent Twitch, there is no shortage of people clamouring in the chat to have their name even mentioned by the streamer. Ultimately, that’s what all the donations, subscribers and animated bits are for, for people to feel like they are doing something with visible effect; and to get to do so is, as David Letterman said, comforting.

Now as sad as that sounds, the issue isn’t with people looking for attention, because it’s only human to want to be social and connect with people; “humans are social creatures” as the saying often goes. The issue is when these people are exploited. There are streamers genuinely there to entertain and form communities that people can be a part of and be welcome, but there are also streamers who clearly are there just to make money off these people.

There are people who say that donating money and subscribing is a waste of money. The counter argument and the one I agree with, is that’s it’s no different from paying for cable TV and I think it’s lovely that the option is there to watch for free, and yet, people still are willing to give and support people to be entertainers. To be able to do something you enjoy and earn money while still being able to provide enjoyable content for people, is a win-win situation in my eyes.

On Twitch, you can browse by streamer or you can browse by game, with the default sorting by highest viewership first. But browsing under games has a IRL (In Real Life) category, where the streamer is basically streaming their life in general. An example is the video below, where Andy Milonakis was streaming his time in Japan.

And without knowing it, these people are basically conceptual descendants of Jennicam.

Being constantly live is also not without it’s pitfalls of course, evidence of this are the numerous YouTube videos of “twitch fails” and streamers caught on camera doing all sorts of things, and even in more dire circumstances allegations with regards to the possession of illicit media. What happened was, whilst searching for something on his screen, the immediate searches that come up whilst typing had a suspicious title pop in, and this was quite literally only for a fraction of a second. How it was even noticed is amazing, and its then that you realize the power of hundreds and even thousands of people’s eyes peering at any position within the frame constantly. Also, once something is on the internet for a faction of a second, it might as well be up there forever. Below is the guy himself, talking about the ordeal that followed.

The internet is a volatile place, and being in that environment causes people to behave in certain ways, especially with the levels of anonymity that it can offer. Choosing to participate in such a stand-out manner, people streaming themselves have put themselves in this interesting position where they’re really quite at the mercy of the people that occupy that space. Both in terms of sustainability and viewership, along with the possible malicious acts that they are at the risk of incurring (read: death threats and swatting). And I would say, the fact that these sorts of platforms have not only survived, but flourished is heartening.

Davis was interested in television’s ability to connect people across distance; my students always laugh uncomfortably at the 70s touchy-feeliness of his video work.

With that quote from the article by Michael Connor, it helps put works such as Douglas Davis, The Last Nine Minutes (1977), in perspective of what exactly is going on.

With the intent being to create intimacy, I found it particularly interesting that the medium of choice, was text. But contextually, it’s 1994, the idea of being able to communicate around the world is immensely tantalizing, a worldwide graffiti board to make your mark on if you will.

Additionally, something this artwork made me realize through the article, was that even digital artwork degrades overtime. Compatibility issues, software support for older Operating Systems being let go, and even Adobe products and their software incompatibility between some versions (very much so a personal gripe).

This piece got me looking at our state of connectivity today vs back then. Some would say we take such a level of communication around the world almost for granted these days (some would argue it’s drawn us closer), whereas in 1994, this was pretty profound stuff. The context being that in 1994 there was a lack of connectivity around the world, hence with our hyper-connectivity, something of this caliber is very easily glossed over.

Even the restorers of ‘The World’s Longest Sentence’ had an aspect of super-participation; they had the blessings of the internet wizards assisting them in the comments section of the New York Times Article on it’s restoration (albeit occasionally conflicting advice).

“Oh please! It’s html!” – E.W. Chesterton of Palm Beach

Super-participation seems to be in most aspects of our daily lives, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube to name a few. Some websites and articles even have small voting portions at the end and there are contests are held online for various means from deciding the Gerber baby to naming the next research boat.

Even MMORPGs I say, are forms of Super-Participation. But what happens when the MMORPG dies (examples in these articles #1 and #2)? They stop being super-participatory  which lead me to realize that super-participation is based on people as opposed as to the medium or platform it’s on.

Hence pretty much everything on an electronic device needs some form of community creation and strengthening, which leads me to ponder, is there any aspect of our digital lives not super-participation?

(clicked save draft instead of publish by accident)

BOLD3RRR rings up a whole bunch of thoughts; not all of which are concrete. I think akin to impressionist paintings, (as pretentious as that might sound, especially in an opening sentence) the art piece gives an atmosphere or a sense of the moment. Funnily enough, I’d say this links up to what mise en scène does; through the visual information of what’s in the scene, the viewer gains an understanding of what’s going on, often in a subconscious manner. The difference with BOLD3RRR being the element of surprise. An element Jon Cates says to be an important focal point in keeping glitch fresh.

Its sort of funny in that a commonly heard or seen element of glitch is repetition. In BOLD3RRR, we hear many word and phrases repeated again, layered over the existing dialogue, if any; assumedly the the only distinguishing aspect being if I had heard a similar phrase before or not, though in retrospect, I can’t be certain. Repetition can and has been used in a multitude of ways before, eg. Andy Warhol, the difference in glitch perhaps, would be the letting go of control from the artist.

Screenshot of Jon Cates BOLD3RRR

Visually the piece was a mash of text, his computers display, his face, and the interface of the Ableton software; amongst other spliced in visuals. But I especially enjoyed the moment at 4:24. This bit particularly hit me as he transitions it by saying “and she said” and then jumped into this glitchy visual of what I initially thought was a skyline with accompanying text in the lower left displaying the quote of what was said. It’s intriguing in that it jumps from speech to text in such a noteworthy manner. The typeface along with the scratchy noise and the gloomy grey visual invokes a sense of melancholia and nostalgia for the older days of the computer.

A moment that helped me put the work in some context was hearing the phrases “…now no such thing as real time… …perpetual altered dimensions”. This harks back to when I realized that I couldn’t distinguish between what was being said and what was just feeding back into the system. It made me wonder about how much we’re putting into the digital world and how much of what we see actually the result of our input being fed back.

the machine world is machined by us out of the world + we have literally machined the world. it’s our world, in the sense that we have crafted it. + we’re constantly uncrafting && re-crafting it. – jC

This brings me to a point about Dick Higgins and the idea of intermedia. Which I take to be the melding of art and life or “everything else”. The manner in which Jon Cates types appears to show this intertwining of the two. And while his spelling is “glitched out” (almost like l33tspeek) it’s still readable to me, which in turn agrees with his quote on glitch.

they might be glitched, + they might be imperfect + noisy, + that might be what attracts us or me to those systems. but still they are functional or rather functioning in one way or another systematically

His typing might appear imperfect but it’s still functional. That level of consistency even if unintentional, was pretty cool.

Except from ‘’ Some of his typing mannerisms and choice of text+symbol combinations remind me of Witch House band/artist names


The aforementioned Witch House genre names


Mise en scène of the desktop arguably could speak as a reflection of the user, but I’ve also learnt that the elements shown could be indicative of numerous other aspects, each possibly branching off into an entire discussion on it’s own. But one thing that I ponder is the level of curation and intent in what we see. Social media provides a clearer sense of this, we can only see what has been chosen to be shown to us. In BOLD3RRR, I’m unsure. The off beat manner of speech, overlapping clips of audio, the claustrophobic close-up of only a portion of the entire desktop. I’m unsure what was intended and what was improvised; and when one moment is in question, it seems to call most other moments into question as well. At that point, it starts to feel like an exercise into existentialism; and perhaps that was the intent in the first place.


The Adobe Connect class was quite a fun experience, it was the first time engaging and being engaged in a lesson in this manner.

I actually felt a little more nervous about speaking as I was constantly worried if I was too loud because my voice goes straight from my mouth to the ears of everyone, it felt a little too close for comfort and made me quite hyper-aware of my voice.

Another concern would be having a controlled space for people to broadcast from. Broadcasting from home, I’d be worried if there are going to be people walking in the background, voices or conversations being picked up when I wouldn’t want them to; a classroom cuts this out by having a shared space for an expressed purpose; the aforementioned issues being less controlled in a more public location.

Additionally the differences in communication and social behaviour is pretty large i’d say. Most noticeably, it cuts down on chatter between students. When in the Adobe Connect world, whenever you are on screen, with our presence and voice amplified; our words and movements are on the same level of observation as the teacher of the class. Additionally, I found that it was pretty tough to read and write at the same as listening to the teacher. So with these aspects combined it was difficult to have any chatter between classmates as seen in class or anything more than a quick jokey quip in the chat. As to whether this is a positive or negative thing, could spark a debate for many hours; but I think a good halfway point would be to say, everything in moderation.

The benefits are actually more impressive than i first thought; in bringing the classroom to the third space, it helped to bridge the many possible pitfalls of requiring physical presence in a pre-set location. First off, this cuts out travel time for anyone and everyone. The speed of being able to just click and jump into class from anywhere is a real gift. This would help people reclaim precious lost time just sitting around in transport and in turn, especially if they used more personal transport, cut down on emissions. This I believe would actually benefit the world considering how many people can connect over the internet. This would also help people who are sick and unable to move on their own; be it from sickness or otherwise. Someone who is ill doesn’t have to worry about falling behind in lectures and would be able to attend from the comforts of their bed and take notes.

In Conclusion, I honestly, thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wouldn’t mind doing it again, which also leads to a commonly heard question “Why don’t we do this every week?”.


photo via Kit Galloway e Sherrie Rabinowitz, «Hole in Space», 1980, Photography | © Galloway, Kit; Rabinowitz, Sherrie


Viewing Hole in Space is quite fascinating. The first thing that struck me were the masses forming at the point of contact; a sort of sign that shows how people are drawn to be in contact with other people. They are especially drawn to the fact that, ordinarily, they would not be able to be in such direct contact with these people.

Something that particularly struck me was a line from the “Welcome to ‘Electronic Cafe International’ […]” reading. “The absence of physical harm makes people braver”. It made me realise why we’re all a little more free and easy when online; be it in text, video or audio. In retrospect this almost seems like it was staring me in the face all this time, but I’d say growing up with it makes us take it for granted and accepting of it as the norm without giving it deeper thought. Growing up with it has also caused us to see it as the primary form of interaction in that we use online modes of contact with people more than in person and I can only imagine a time when the inverse was true.

Los Angles looking to New York

Hole in Space was like a virtual watering hole. Even today I’d say people react the same way to stumbling upon a virtual point of contact, especially one of visual exchange/video. It’d start with a bit of curiosity, perhaps a wave of the hand and in seeing the other side respond it was like looking into a mirror. Like in the image above, to me it really reiterates this aspect of the mirror image, the audience seeing themselves in the other and in doing so, are compelled to connect; people even arranged to meet up in person. For it’s time especially, and I’d say to do so in the same situation today is really quite mind blowing, perhaps beyond the means of technology, but to do so in such a spontaneous manner seem indicative of how these methods of connection break down our preconceived notions of how people would ordinarily connect. For such means to still be seen as “wild” or “crazy” speaks to how ahead of it’s time Hole in Space was.

The following excerpt from the ecafe Historic Overview reading, speaks as to why

This body of work has always been about the multitudes of creative ways and contexts in which people can come together to cultivate new ways of collaborating together across distance and divides both technical and cultural. It’s about the quality of the “actual human-to-human experience,” not the post-mortem, or an exhibit, or traveling installation. Its been about a way of life inseparable from the collaborations of friends, fellow travelers, and constituencies defined by ideas not geography.

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) popular in the early 2000s

IRC (Internet Relay Chat)Technology will always be changing, but with the focus of Hole in Space (and the many other projects such as the Electronic Cafe Network and it’s successors) being to connect people, it’s tapped into something that is quite timeless. It’s why we still talk about project like them today, and in looking what they did at the time, was definitely a precursor to many thing we have today. They had keyword searches for text and visuals, text based chat systems with people around the world, shared screen drawings and so on (modern day examples in the pictures above and below). Pushing the boundaries of technology was one thing, but to do so in a manner that touched on something quite innate for people was really, very special.

Draw My Thing Online Game by Plonga Games

The Sony Portapak must have been such a game changer. At the start, when asked “Do you think you could act naturally, with this on”, it’s such an interesting moment. Unlike today, they wouldn’t have had much of an idea with a camera in such intimate space. The only points of reference would be from the existing large media companies and their broadcasts, the closest they could get at the time would’ve be the news coverage of the time. Now the camera was brought right up to the consumer in their own personal circles and the Videofreex definitely saw the capabilities that this device brought.

This was the point, as the Videofreex themselves said, that you could show what was really going on in the streets. The dichotomy between what people saw on T.V vs what was going on (the Vietnam War) could now be bridged. However, when CBS and the Videofreex had a conflict of interest, regarding the death of Fred Hampton, this became an issue again and I feel like it’s been an issue ever since. I thought it was great they they stuck to their principles of having a “political obligation to those people” for CBS to not keep a hold on the tapes that the Videofreex had shot; to the point that they’d go into the CBS building and sneak the tapes out. I believe that having every side (within reasonable bounds, i.e no blind hate) have the ability to get their message out and for there to be avenues to both express and have civil discourse about any given matter.

The Videofreex are a great example of getting the voices of the everyday out over broadcast, if anything is silenced, chances are there’s a skewed perspective somewhere.

However, the operative word here is broadcast; and as they mentioned, funding became an issue and they eventually came to a point where they had no electricity too. Without money or the ability to broadcast, shooting footage does nothing if it goes nowhere. Through having the right people and ingenuity to make do with what they had focused on the drive to shoot and broadcast, the Videofreex really are a great example of grit and determination with innovation coming together both as and with a community to make something happen.

With the advent of multiple and now established streaming site and methods; these days, it takes much much less to get up and running. One thing that remains a constant though, is a sense of community. YouTubers connect with their audience and talk to them, they have names for their fans, they have subreddits, discord channels apart from the YouTube space for them to congregate and strengthen the bonds between all the people involved. Twitch streamers have live chat, people converse to and fro with the people they see on screen and react to them in numerous ways. Social Broadcasting has only grown stronger through this sense of community and connecting people by having the audience through this cyclic system of watching, reacting and responding.

As mentioned in the documentary, there are political, social and artistic outputs of video, but they are not mutually exclusive. There are a multitude of videos in the current political and social climate addressing the issue in their own special way.


As an individual going over his thoughts and perspectives

or closer to a Conventional News Show

And the lines between making political statements, social commentary or art are vague which in turn simulates dialogue (though not always civil). Sustainability is always an issue in the world, money needs to exchange hands for the wheels to keep turning. But as they said, the satisfaction of having created something that they truly feel a drive for goes beyond making money and the ability to go live is within reach for most people; a dollar or two could get you an hour in an internet cafe and you can start broadcasting then and there. The technology and methods are changing within the decade, faster and faster, but the aspects, like community are tried and true. As with the Videofreex, hard work, innovation and being ready to go will always lead to something bigger than themselves.