Despite pursuing a career in art, Annie Abrahams’ training as a biologist shines through, where she engages “in research and reflection as an integral part of (her) practice” (Jamieson, 2008). Angry Women, in true scientific fashion, thus features a combination of a controlled space, controlled directives, and variable test subjects, with the objective of observing the nature of communication and collaboration through online means.
It is intriguing that various iterations of Angry Women exist, with varying results based on the varying groups of people: there is an uncanny resemblance to scientific observation, in which a variable is changed, and the data is analysed to explain why the change in variable effects a change in result. In fact, this is often because of the ambiguity of said “directive”, where the style of communication can change easily from narcissistic, to back and forth, to simultaneous.
[in the first take] although we were together, we were not
together so to speak, and still there was interaction between us.
The second time there was interaction and communication but especially in the beginning
everyone focused in tremendous different ways.
The subject became “communication” more than being angry.
And in the end it went towards talking about the subject of our anger, for instance in politics.
That again is a totally different approach.
Nevertheless, all the iterations still have some level of “collaboration and group-dynamics”. As aptly summarised by Abrahams (2011), it situates “a condition of lonely togetherness, of life constructing a commonality, of being together and sharing this condition of co-responsibility, of scripted auto-organisation”. Sometimes there is the lone voice who suddenly screams by herself, to which others automatically join in (00:18). Sometimes there is the one who asks for some time/space to do a solo, only to be completely ignored (Take 1).
Sometimes, it is “a moment of nakedness within the performance” (Abrahams, 2010), leaving the participants vulnerable enough to observe what is true, than the image one might typically put up when broadcasting. The unpredictability of human behaviour is eerily similar to the unpredictability of the third space. As Packer states, “rather than fighting the glitches, errors and disruptions… she discovers the work through these networked ‘entanglements'”. Abrahams capitalises on technical difficulties, just as she does with what may be perceived as “mistakes” by the participants, like the “silent presence of the woman in pink” (Ruhsam, 2012).
This rawness of organic behaviour becomes “a beautiful moment” (Chatzichristodolou, 2010), one more beautiful than a curated act.
(Featured image from Angry Women Take 3.)
Abrahams, A. (2012-) “Angry Women Take 1”, “Take 2”, “Take 3”, “Take 4”, “Take 5”. (link)
Abrahams, A., Kastelein, I., Ruhsam, M., & co. (2012). “Angry Women – Reactions Analyses brut”. (link)
Chatzichristodoulou, M. & Abrahams, A. (2010). “Annie Abrahams. Allergic to Utopias”. on Digicult. (link)
Jamieson, H.V. (2008). “Adventures in Cyberperformance: experiments at the interface of theatre and the internet”. (link)
Packer, R. (N.A.) “Disentangling the Entanglements”. on Art of the Networked Practice Online Symposium Website. (link)
once more do we come to start anew, where the waves ebb and flow, eroding what it can, with what little power it has, until the seas dry up, leaving nothing but flecks of salt, flecks of sand
and just like that, we keep suspending thought again, and again, till we are decisive, for you, me, the world, and all of Meaning
we are all ending, in some time, in some place, and scattered over voids of perceived faith
I wrote this while delirious at 3am a few days back, and only remembered it after taking the video. Surprisingly, it feels like they fit together well.
The alter ego I wish for is one with which I can attain freedom in abstraction. It terrifies me sometimes, the fact that I have a tangible form bound by the constructs of society and laws of the universe. Often, I wish I could become emptiness, unconstrained by rationality, natural in irregularity, aesthetic in imperfection.
I took about 12 minutes worth of footage, and trimmed out a minute. Throughout the video, the kaleidoscope effect is applied, such that I am not me, such that I can reach the abstraction I’ve wished for. My eyes are closed, and I am moving at random without seeing the result. I am also vocalising a random melody which is made up as I go. Both of these reflect the freedom and aesthetic of spontaneity which, I feel, comes with being unconstrained.
“If you’re going to go somewhere, might as well go all the way,” I said to myself, and that’s how I found myself wishing I hadn’t had the superb idea of riding the entire Downtown Line and beyond.
In all seriousness, though, the East is probably the most unknown to me, in that I have literally never been there apart from Changi, simply because I have never had any need to go there. Thus, I decided to look at the MRT map and find a nice sounding Eastern place to go to. Preferably, one I’ve never even heard of, because why not?
My first impressions on the way there from Expo was that it was a quiet area. Sure, there were a decent number of people at the bus stop, a mall, and the Expo to boot, but even the roads were almost eerily silent. That, and the general ability to see the sky clearly: many places tend to have tall buildings which obscure the skyline, but here, there was so little going on that it was somewhat easy on the eyes, having so few elements. The further I walked, the less populated the roads became. Awkwardly enough, this was pretty much the same on my second trip (in all fairness, both days were Saturdays).
As it turns out, Xilin is a somewhat significant road, and as such traffic exists, even if at a constantly low rate. While the roads may have had cars, though, the sidewalks were empty save for me. My guess is that the absence of people also had to do with the time of the day and the time of the year: as far as I could tell, Xilin was an industrial area, what with the many company-based buildings and general lack of HDBs. In fact, I don’t even think anyone was working, considering the lack of industrial sound, the lack of people leaving the buildings to go home, and the fact that it was a Saturday and the 2nd day of Lunar New Year to boot.
DOCUMENTATION OF AREA
PLEASE NOTE THAT quite a few of my photos and videos have been deleted as they involve the train depot, which, as it turns out, is a restricted area (I was hunted down by security).
I took a lot of photos, but for convenience’s sake, I’ve grouped them not by chronology, but by visual/thematic similarities. To avoid information overload, I’ve refrained from posting all pictures pertaining to said category. (This is the semblance of process part, where I mostly chose to photograph things on a whim, and later tried to determine why I had felt the urge to.)
A lot of places were fenced up or hidden behind walls, and so it became a prominent part of the journey, to peek through various holes to see what the construction or industrial site looks like. Or, in general, to see how perception is warped.
Nothing new, but I was vaguely fascinated by some plants which I either have never noticed, or have never seen, especially the fuzzy, cross-shaped golden weeds.
What’s new, really! Trash is everywhere! Worker gloves and shoes were a somewhat unique but unsurprising trash, but I didn’t really find them interesting, so I neglected to photograph them.
Weird markings on the ground and various things. You see this everywhere, really, but never quite question it. And yet, some of them form patterns in terms of repeated images, or colours, or numerical sequences.
While not new knowledge to me, it’s still interesting that industrial areas often have a lot of bicycles lying around, because it’s convenient for workers, where there are few buses, and it’s often flat and long stretches with practically no one to crash into.
Not unexpected for restricted or dangerous sites. What’s interesting, though, is variations of a sign meaning the same thing, or just how there ARE many different types of signs.
I’m still awestruck by how quiet it is.
Like I mentioned, often not blocked, giving a fairly good view. Sometimes has planes too.
(that’s the train depot) All in all there really isn’t any sound but that of the strong wind, passing cars, the occasional train, and the occasional bird.
All in all, I have mixed feelings about the place. There is little sound but the wind, rushing cars and occasional bird, but it’s not really a peaceful quietness, not even melancholic or eerie. Instead, it’s more like silence, sterile and stagnant, devoid of people, of scent, anything. Indeed, it might be refreshing compared to the bustle of a shopping mall, but it lacks organic serenity, which leaves me feeling somewhat disoriented. There is a difference between solitariness and desolation, after all.
Xilin, in fact, reminds me strongly of various other industrial areas, such as Senoko Way or Joo Koon Road, just much less populated in that there doesn’t appear to be any of the usual local coffee shops to cater to workers. Additionally, it is surprisingly close to a reknown location, the Singapore Expo, and the Changi City Point shopping mall. In itself, though, the only differentiating quality is perhaps just that there is the Changi train depot.
In the end, though, it’s a place which can easily become rumour fodder, due to its low profile and desolation. It has the makings of a post-apocalyptic location, not unlike the feeling you might get when you come out of a shelter to find that the world has ended.
It also has potential to sound exactly like the site of a government conspiracy, where a lot is covered up, or can be viewed with suspicion. Perhaps my zine would be a thesis for a conspiracy, or a documentation of the end of the humanity.
I put my sidebar on the right for 1. aesthetic, 2. easy access (if I use touchscreen), and 3. because I prefer to compromise width than height for my window sizes (which would happen with the default sidebar on bottom).
Firefox for the Internet, because I love being able to have a lot of control over my privacy settings
File Explorer for finding files, because I never save things on my desktop and only put them into the proper folders
Paint Tool SAI (a lightweight raster graphics editor), for simple image editing (or sketching, back when I still had a tablet).
My desktop icons are mostly shortcuts to applications which are not significant enough to put on the sidebar, but significant enough that easy accessibility is crucial.
Arranged on the left in straight lines to make space for the background image
Recycle Bin: In the top left corner due to lack of usage (where it is most unlikely to be clicked due to the location)
Adobe Reader for PDF opening (in relatively inaccessible location due to low propensity to open it as is)
Adobe softwares for various hobbyist/school works (+Aptana Studio, my open source replacement for Dreamweaver)
Game-related softwares for gaming (distribution softwares and emulator)
In 2015, Carla Gannis released The Selfie Drawings, a set of digital drawings expressing “the self”. It was then expanded in 2017, forming the narrative basis for Gannis’ 2017 exhibition: Until the End of the World.
From the Origin to the year 10 000, the exhibitions shows an imagined evolution of humanity, a sort of apocalypse in which “you ain’t need no husband” because you can have virtual children, et cetera.
As Wittkower aptly states, many things “might seem to mean nothing, and yet be taken to mean something”. Your virtual children are only real when you perceive them to be so. With this in mind, the seemingly surrealist images can be perceived as more than nothing, as a presentation of the self, albeit in a stranger form, but perhaps also truer in being able to manipulate new mediums to express yourself in different ways.
However, there is a caveat in the overriding of the actual self. “They made monsters of themselves which they could not tolerate nor do without,” says the voiceover of the 1991 movie of the same name. Without regard for the physical space they focus on the digital self, a somewhat revolting notion.
Nevertheless, as Deresiewicz suggests, it is not possible to “develop the capacity to have a sense of self separate from the community” without a certain level of isolation. This explains why we accept this form so readily: Though teeming with others, the digital realm can also be your own, allowing you to explore yourself, which is craved in a world where “you” are not important (Schopenhauer, 2014).
Certainly, Gannis’ work reflects the new forms of self available in the digital identity, and how we still engage in it because of its appeal, even if it may seem vaguely self-destructive.
(Featured image from 1991’s Until the End of the World. Claire’s psychedelic dream, which probably inspired the madness of Gannis’ portrayal, in that dreams are not unlike the unconscious mind.)
Deresiewicz, W. (2009). “The End of Solitude”. in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (link) (as referenced by Wittkower)
Gannis, C. (2015). “The Selfie Drawings”. on Carla Gannis. (link)
Gannis, C. (2017). “Until the End of the World”. on Carla Gannis. (link)
Gannis, C. (2017). “Until the End of the World”. on Vimeo. (link)
Schopenhauer, A. (2014). “On the Vanity of Existence.” in Studies in Pessimism. The University of Adelaide. (link) (as referenced by Wittkower)
Wenders, W. (1991). “Until the End of the World”. (around 0:50:00 to 0:53:00 of a certain kind-of-illegally uploaded Part 3, don’t sue me thank you)
Wittkower, D.E. (2010). “A Reply to Facebook Critics”. in Facebook & Philosophy: What’s on Your Mind?. Open Court. (link)
Television, cars, spaceflights — from 1968 to 1978, Ant Farm proved themselves to be distinctively “American”, capitalising on these objects which, even then, were cultural symbols of the USA. The Eternal Frame (1975) is no exception, though it takes things to a further extent. Rather than referring to merely objects which have become symbols, it refers to something more human: an event which has become a myth.
The title of this video itself is misleading: as a non-American millenial with little knowledge on this 1963 event on the other end of the world, it took me a while to realise this IS the artwork, and not the legitimate footage. For at least 90% of Americans at that time, though, it became a collective memory, in that it was heavily televised.
The Riderless Horse, Black Jack, at Kennedy’s funeral, which was also broadcast. It is now a key image representing Kennedy’s assassination, alongside other images like that of the Kennedys kneeling by the eternal flame, something which sounds almost ethereal.
In 1975, a previously-excised, now-infamous frame from the Zapruder Film was “shown for the first time” (Andrews, 2013). And the masses tore into that depiction of the exact moment of the shot.
Obviously, The Eternal Frame (1975) is a response: as stated by Uthco & Ant Farm, it is “simultaneously a live performance spectacle, a taped re-enactment of the assassination, a mock documentary, and… a simulation of the Zapruder film”. In fact, it’s likely a response to the whole nature of the televised tragedy:
“While we didn’t see the assassination live, the television show about the assassination was a four-day long drama that played on national television.” (Robert Thompson)
It was never about the substance: when the presidential campaigns came around, it didn’t matter that Kennedy was a philanderer or a druggie. It was the “power of the image” (Lord, 2017), the charismatic television facade which won the hearts of the people.
Everyone claims that “it” was “gut-wrenching“, “haunting“, “powerful“, but the “it” they refer to is merely the image curated for mass media. Not the 1963 assassination of the person named Kennedy, but the 1975 film about the character named Kennedy. They will never feel the same as true witnesses like Zapruder did, so utterly traumatised that he had nightmares.
At some point, this reality became nothing more than a “drama” to be viewed on television. It became something which had fantastical motifs, sensational twists; something for the entertainment of the masses who eagerly tear into that one frame, who squint at the image of his head exploding, who try to solve the murder mystery: who killed him?
Frame 313 captured everyone’s eyes, which remains eternally in their thoughts. The frame, and nothing more.
Featured image courtesy of Diane Andrew Hall, retrieved from here.
Andrews, E. (2013). “What happened to the Zapruder film?”. History.com. (link)
Lewallen, C. (N.A.). “Still Subversive After All These Years.” Stretcher. (link)
Loughlin, W.S. (2013). “Modern Mythology: Fifty Years Later, JFK Still Resonates.” Syracuse University. (link)
McGuire, K. (2013). “The Kennedy Assassination, boomers, and TV journalism.” The Chicago Blog. (link)
Packer, R. & Lord, Chip. (2018). “Chip Lord live from the NMC Media Lounge.” (link)
Rosenbaum, R. (2013). “What Does the Zapruder Film Really Tell Us?.” Smithsonian. (link)
Simon, R. (2017). “How Kennedy Created a Presidency for a TV Age.” Time. (link)
Sneed, T. (2013). “How John F. Kennedy’s Assassination Changed Television Forever.” US News. (link)