With Cecelia, Jocelyn, Nadiah and Shu, Project Social Life (name as suggested by Shu’s mother) was carried out on 14 April.

Something like this, maybe.


Password: projectsociallife. Video may be subject to later revisions.

The overarching idea is of surrendering control of yourself to others. I’ll link to Shu, who, in my opinion, effectively wrote the most concise description possible.

Viewers are encouraged to send in suggestions in response to the question of “what should we do next?”. These answers would then be compiled, with 2 options being put into a poll on Instagram: viewers would then vote which option they’d like to see. After 10 minutes, the results would be taken, and the winning option carried out.

The Blast Theory style of mixing technology and physicality was employed, as was a common theme in their works, that of control and interdependence. Like A Machine to See With, there is an element of control by the external; like Can You See Me Now, there is an element of dependence on the online community. On a personal level, too, I felt that it resembles an Annie Abrahams work, in the setting of clear protocols without too much limitation on the possible inputs, leading to an outcome which may vary wildly.


The original idea had the same concept, but was more like this: Two teams allowing each others’ Instagram followers to control each other. While we would come up with each other’s options, viewers would vote on which option they wanted. Perhaps we would even throw dares at each other, which we’d have to complete.

Various other iterations of this concept went about, until we realised it was too convoluted, and that it didn’t particularly matter if we split up or not, or let each other’s viewers control us as opposed to our own. Additionally, it would be quite limiting if we came up with the questions and options on our own, leaving viewers to only decide the outcome.

Consequently, we made it better by relinquishing even more. The physical location and everything we did was entirely random, solely dependent on what voters in the third space wanted. No one in the first space particularly batted an eye at us, though, so unexpected elements mostly came from suggestions.

Since we were no longer splitting up, we essentially just took turns posting on Instagram, and executed orders together. On a personal level, it was difficult to know if someone else was already posting what needed to be posted, so I anticipated that we’d need B-roll shots (or at least just landscape-oriented footage, since everyone else was taking portrait-oriented shots for Instagram), and delegated myself to that.

The trailer, done by Shu, thanks Shu!, consequently featured a mix of the footage we had:

  1. B-roll shots (ex)
  2. Instagram story screen recordings (ex)
  3. Instagram direct message/feed screenshots (ex)
  4. Post-production interviews (as seen in trailer)
  5. Aaaand a lot of special effects and glitches

Stylistically, it drew reference from Carla Gannis (in terms of illogicality) and xxxtraprincess (girlishness).


All in all, it was a surprisingly tame experience. Although we had to do various things we usually didn’t do, such as going to the arcade, there was nothing particularly intense. Personally, I feel that this might have been a result of improperly set protocols.

  • We actively chose which options to present
    • e.g. “go to a museum”, as opposed to “climb a tree”
    • By avoiding putting wackier suggestions up, it limited the amount of wildness
  • Options were often linked together
    • e.g. “go to town” / “go to Boon Lay”, as opposed to “go to town” / “dance”
    • By establishing a “common ground” between options, it limited the amount of unpredictability
  • Assumptions were made on the context-sensitivity
    • e.g. not putting up “pet a dog” if we were in a location where dogs were unlikely to be found
    • By avoiding what we thought impossible, it limited the notion of being forcefully controlled
  • Only major decisions were decided by viewers
    • e.g. heading to locations, doing certain things
    • By not letting viewers control every single detail, we still retained freedom

In a sense, we weren’t supposed to enjoy ourselves, but did anyway, because we still retained a rather large degree of control. For example, it would have been interesting to see us have to execute an order even if it’s difficult or humiliating. (It’s not impossible to be told to pet a dog while on the train. Just alight, get out, and run around till you find a dog. Painful, but possible.)

Alternatively, it would have been interesting to see us being utterly controlled, not just in terms of being told where to go, but also every single detail. This might seem masochistic, but what if we couldn’t even do anything unless we were instructed to? If no instructions come in, we’d have to just stand there, staring at our phone, until someone says something. If we’re not told to, we can’t ever wipe our sweat, or rub our eyes, or breathe.

Of course, this didn’t happen, which is an interesting phenomenon.

Even when told to control someone else, we form assumptions as to what degree of control we can have. No incredibly specific suggestions came in, nor illegal suggestions. Even when we thought we had relinquished control of ourselves, we ourselves assumed a degree of freedom. We went to the washroom without being told to, PLAYED at the arcade though we were only told to GO to the arcade, etc. And no one questioned our freedom to do that.

e.g. we went to buy Stretchy Cheese Toast, without being told to.

In any case, though, I still think that we were able to bring out that idea of being controlled, where the artists become the puppets of the community, although only when the suggestions didn’t clash with our natural instinct to protect ourselves. In fact, the blatantly obvious protective measures make an interesting statement on self-preservation and assumed freedom as well.

(On a related note, I am compelled to recommend On Liberty as a good read on the relationship between authority and liberty.)

3 years ago, I mused that, someday, A Level History would cover the rise of the Internet as a full-fledged topic. It’s an important historical event, after all. There’d be so many possible subtopics, and all the Gen Z kids would love it. Still waiting though.

Social Broadcasting: An Unfinished Communications Revolution. This is the theme of the symposium, and a phrase saturated with meaning. As quoted by Packer,

Gene Youngblood signals the need for “a communications revolution… an alternative social world” that decentralises the experience of the live broadcast through the creative work of collaborative communities’. (link)

And yet, this complete upheaval of the way we communicate is still “unfinished”. The symposium thus explores this notion of networked communication as a way to open the way to that new world order.

To understand how the social broadcast is revolutionary, we must first understand the live broadcast. Loosely, it is defined as media which is broadcast without a significant delay. The most primitive forms of broadcast would include one-way transmissions, such as with television. However, as Chatzichristodolou (note: will be referred to as Maria X for convenience) states in her keynote, there is another definition of “liveness”, that of something which is “infinitely open to interaction, transformation and connection”. This is a concept which has led the broadcast onto a completely new path, continuously reshaping the “broadcast” into something much more communal, allowing for communication between, than merely to, people.

Screenshot from Maria Chatzichristodoulou’s keynote.

As suggested above, Maria X, who spoke on the first day, provided a clear view of key definitions. A “performance scholar”, she also spoke at length on the historical context of networked art, and how that works together with internationalism. From Paik’s Global Groove, we see a statement on his envisioned future of the “phenomenal effect” of globalised dissemination. From Satellite Arts we see the “possibilities and limitations of new technologies… to create and augment a new context and environment” (Maria X, 2018). It is interesting to see that many of these artists work in groups, since networked art necessitates interaction with other humans.

Picking up after the keynote, Annie Abrahams expanded on this idea of the need for accompaniment, with the debut of Online Ensemble – Entanglement Training. As the name suggests, the performance was an ensemble, one which can only work with a group, one supported by the natural disadvantage of being unable to synchronise digitally.

Screenshot from Online Ensemble. Voices state numbers dispassionately at random intervals, and all of them show something white near them. By nature of being a culmination of different people, the message becomes an aggregation of inputs, than a single person’s.

In response to a remark that it was difficult to work together, Abrahams mentioned that one can be “not in the same time and same place, but can still play together… in this entanglement of people and machines”. This is rather in line with an earlier remark that “her artworks primarily tackle “communication and the difficulty with communicating at all”.

Screenshot from Online Ensemble. Together, the performers speak and place objects, at seemingly random intervals, with no seeming connection whatsoever.

It is evident that synchronisation is not particularly crucial since the artwork is essentially an improvised performance. The randomness of non-vetted phrases is important: phrases like “don’t ask for the truth if you can’t handle it”, “I’m sorry babe, I’m afraid I can’t do that”, “suddenly we become scared to change something” have no meaning on their own, only what we interpret on our own. As aptly put by Dixon, it is very much a fluxus work, where direction is not as important as non or omni-direction.

From LASALLE College of the Arts. Image of Steve Dixon, the current President, who gave the opening statement for the second day.

Dixon further elaborates on the nature of modern forms of art which come with new technologies on the second day. As previously asserted by Paik, the relationship between art and new technology is as old as art itself, from the Egyptians’ pyramids to satellite art. Relating the story of Henry Thoreau, who could not understand the purpose of the phone, Dixon explains that “although man talks to accomplish something, unawares, he soon begins to talk, simply, to talk”. It is rarely about whether there is a purpose, as to that it has come into existence, forming new relationships and new ways of thinking. Consequently, modern art emerges as a form of exploration into these “new processes in communicational processes”.

Another example he gives is that of Blast Theory, neatly tying into a quaint introduction for Matt Adams, its founder. Delving into the intricacies of simultaneously existing in reality and irreality, Blast Theory works with the idea of connecting people remotely, and the possibilities which come with that idea. It is perhaps even this which gives the theme of the day, of Networking the Real & the Fictional. In fact, it is almost a pity that Adams was not able to execute an interactive work with the audience on the spot, which may have brought the point across even more pertinently by nature of its interactivity, as opposed to speaking at length on past works and the intentions behind them.

Screenshot of Matt Adams’ presentation on Blast Theory.


Regardless, the various works presented are interesting, showcasing what was then a brand new style of (mostly) game-based interaction based on an augmented reality of sorts. Uncle Roy All Around You, for example, asks questions without providing a frame, making it uncertain as to if it is something out of the game or in the game. Neither can work without the other, and yet the boundaries between “reality” and this second “reality but also not really” are blurred, creating a super reality. Many games nowadays attempt, in some way or another, to replicate that crossing of reality and the digital world.

As later addressed in the Q&A, the works are also curiously tied in with the idea of control. As stated by Packer, it is often about making people acutely aware of their given or taken control, such as in Kidnap (1998). “It shapes our lives that the media has control over us,” Packer suggested, and I am not inclined to disagree. For example, as previously studied in class, we see that it is often not about acting in the capacity of a president, than acting as a president. The media has a lot of control over the narrative, and can even affect crucial national decisions.

Screenshot from igaies. While the xxxtraprincesses read while being in the same space, Sifuentes is too there in the same space but in a different perspective. And yet, at the same time, Constantini is in Mexico performing another piece altogether at the same time.

The symposium ends off with the debut of igaies (intimate glitches across internet errors), a strangely neat summary of the topics of the previous days. Personally, it is fascinating that it is pronounced as “gaze”, perhaps leaving it as a statement on its online nature (iGaies), on the connection formed by eye contact (gaze).

Jon Cates and collaborators are currently developing a series of multifarious and differentiated performance works that coalesce into what Cates refers to as igaies (intimate glitches across internet errors) – small miraculous mistakes, moments of beautiful brokenness – all fused together as a single improvisatory, real-time sensory overload of noise, blood, hashtags, fetishism, sexuality, memes, and #cutestuff. (link)

As implied by the above quote, the key idea is of glitches. Even on a more “real” perspective, though, simultaneous perspectives and/or performances hint at some sort of “glitch”, where there logically shouldn’t be an overlap to allow proper focus on the appropriate artworks. These “multifarious” artworks even appear to clash, from the girlish xxxtraprincesses to the gory leeches. Despite this, it makes a strange sort of sense. Constantini brings to the table his works on petri dishes, the image of bacteria tying in with Sifuentes’ leeches. Cates drops a beat while Constantini’s electronic sound pervades the scene. The xxxtraprincesses bring to the table a tale of revolution, all while embracing internet culture. Memes, hashtags, digital avatars all find a place here, and Nacif herself identifies as a gURL, stating that she finds this typo-ed term to “have a multiplicity and simultaneity” which gIRL does not. Sifuentes, too, brings a tale of revolution, but gorier, in the form of exsanguination, defined as “a process of mourning and cleansing with leeches being ritualistically applied to his body” on the Third Space Network.

Screenshot from igaies. While Holloway performs on sexuality and objectification, Constantini has a strangely relevant drawing.

Something I was particularly struck by was the vibrancy of the chatroom, too. There could be the simplicity of one word reactions to which you’re obviously not meant to respond, to drawn out interpretations which can begin conversations on its own, to added insight on the artworks being presented. (See below for audience links which I spotted on Day 3.)

Abrahams said something to the same effect:

Sometimes I even think that the chatroom is more important than what is actually happening between the performers. Both complete each other. And I also try to have some people in the chatroom who know what it is all about, so they can mediate between people and create a live/nice atmosphere.

While I am uncertain as to if she said “nice” or “live”, I prefer to think of it as both. Niceness creates a welcoming community which connects the audience to each other; liveness brings forth the connection between the audience and the artist(s). Overall, though, it is beyond doubt that the medium truly brings out the theme: I could hardly imagine these artworks being presented traditionally. Though I believe that there are ways in which the symposium could have stretched the social broadcast medium even more to communicate even better, it is certainly remarkable, considering that the revolution has yet to be finished.


Featured image from Adams’ presentation video on Uncle Roy All Around You.

W1 Summary & Artwork Spam Research

The term “open-source” is used to describe software, of which its source code is available for perusal and modification. This is in direct opposition of proprietary software, which restricts access to its source code. Predictably enough, however, the concept of proprietary software became pervasive once the profitability of software as a commodity was established.

A timeline of the history of copyright. It is not unusual for something profitable to be commodified, where closed source is a byproduct of that.

Essentially, the harshness of the closed source model resulted in

  1. The awareness that the “copyright” is not a singular, rigid right
  2. The rise of the hacker culture, and
  3. The rise of the open source model

As a software and creative model, it can be more beneficial to the creator to not completely control their work, especially if they have non-profit motivations, such as that of the desire for “a phenomenal effect on education and entertainment” (Paik, 1973). This encourages interaction between peers to improve upon each other’s contributions.

It also leads to a form of “living art”, where said art is dependent on real-time social interaction than prepared beforehand like traditional art. This places emphasis on the process than the result, where the meaning of the artwork is emphasised through how it is made than how it looks in the end. Artists can also further define “their autonomy against the dominance of mainstream culture” through this modern style (Garrett, 2014). By extension, it also has a profound effect on various forms of art, like performance art, social practice art and internet art.

For reference, attached are links to various artworks which rely on the unpredictable nature of social interaction, albeit with varying restrictions. A closely linked idea is that of social practice, incidentally, where social interaction is often an important way to express those messages.

The Second Woman (performance art) by Nat Randall, 2017 (1) (2)

Project Row Houses (social sculpture) by Rick Lowe (1) (2)

Permanent Redirect (internet art) by Donald Hanson, 2018 (1) (2)


(Featured image: Sunflower Seeds by Ai Weiwei, 2010.)

  • Garrett, M. (2014). “DIWO (Do-It-With-Others): Artistic Co-Creation as a Decentralized Method of Peer Empowerment in Today’s Multitude.” Marc Garrett. (link)
  • Packer, R. “Open Source Studio.” IEEE Potentials 34, no. 6 (2015): 31-38. doi:10.1109/mpot.2015.2443899. (link)
  • Vaidhyanathan, S. (2012). “Open Source as Culture/Culture as Open Source “ in Mandiberg, M. (Ed.). The Social Media Reader. NY: New York University Press. (link)
  • (2005). “Proprietary Software Definition.” The Linux Information Project. (link)
  • P., Natalie. (2006). “Who Are the Key Figures in Socially Engaged Art Today?.” Widewalls. (link)
  • Davis, B. (2013). “A critique of social practice art.” International Socialist Review 90. (link)
  • Meyer, H. (2009). “Audience as participant in Performance Art.” Inter Act Actuel. (link)
  • “Socially engaged practice.” Tate. (link)