Project Social Life

Project Social Life is a performance art piece done to learn what would happen if we gave control to the public to decide how our day would go. I have always thought that it is such an interesting concept ever since I saw Yes Theory’s video attached below.

Similarly, we utilized the social media application, Instagram to carry out our experiment. We also made use of the poll function in the story to get our followers to vote for decisions sent in by them to would determine how we spend our day starting from around 11am to 5pm. Each poll ran for 10 minutes before went with what was in favour.

This idea stems from the notion that we get to construct a digital identity that may not be completely representative of our true selves because we are in full control of what we choose to display online. So, when all control is stripped away, how “real” can we get?

En Cui, Cecilia, Shu, Jocelyn and I first met up at ADM, our starting point. We then put out a poll on our collective page @projectsociallife_ asking the masses whether we should hang out somewhere near being Boon Lay or travel all the way to Bugis. Of course, if I still had control, I would surely choose what was convenient, Boon Lay. Unfortunately, Bugis was in favour. Apart from the regular activities such as having lunch, throughout the day, we received many interesting and funny suggestions such as:


However, we did not exactly do any of the above. That to me is interesting because it shows how we cannot help but still try to maintain our digital image. We just cannot completely let go of control. We deliberately chose not to do those suggestions. Personally, it is because I am afraid of being judged by people online who would be watching the stories because again, I feel like I have a digital image to maintain.

password: projectsociallife

As such, in the final trailer above, done beautifully by Shu, you can see how we depicted a utopian narrative throughout most of the video. We only portrayed the happy bits of what went down throughout the day. Also, the quirky video style drew much reference from Carla Gannis and Paula Pinho Martins Nacif.

Given that we were shown performance art pieces by Blast Theory prior to the project, of course we took inspiration from their works. I’d Hide You gave much influence to this project. We were interested in the way the team gave control to the mass public to make decisions for them to create an outcome that could turn out in many different ways.

To be honest, before it started, I was so afraid I would have to embarrass myself in public because that is really the last thing I would want to happen. Surprisingly, nothing major happened but I had fun nonetheless.

Overall, I personally think we succeeded in exploring the social in this project by deliberately allowing followers (some strangers) to curate our day. We communicated through the DMs (direct message) to receive/accept suggestions. No doubt, there was a form of interaction. However, to accentuate that, I feel that we should have done an activity that forces us to interact with real-life public to make the project more interesting. Nevertheless, a fun project with fun people.

Alternative Social World

Social broadcasting is a revolutionary phenomenon which strays away from the notion of one-to-many streaming mode. Instead, it allows for many-to-many interactive experiences that bonds artists and audiences in live third space networks. Contrary to traditional media, social broadcasting promotes direct collaboration, interaction and interconnectivity as it utilises the idea of DIWO (Do It with Others). It works towards an “alternative social world” as suggested by media historian and activist Gene Youngblood who agrees that it should distribute the “experience of the broadcast through the creative work of collaborative communities” (Randall Packer. (2018) Social Broadcasting: An Unfinished Communications Revolution)

This is exemplified very clearly in the symposium that I was privileged to have attended through Adobe Connect: a webcam chat-like platform. It really intrigued me how anyone with access to the link was able to provide input and ideas live in the chatbox. This invokes discussion which widens perspectives for both the artist and viewers for the betterment of both parties.

Maria Chatzichristodoulou’s keynote address

This also encapsulates the idea of collaborative art which was explored in a keynote address in the symposium by Maria Chatzichristodoulou, a performance scholar that specializes in critiquing live Internet art. She talked about telecollaborative arts and its impacts along with many examples.

One that struck my interest was Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz’s Hole in Space (1980) which I have in fact wrote about before here.

Passer-bys in respective areas communicating through the big screens

It is actually one of my favourite art works that Prof. Randall Packer has introduced to me the past semester. Galloway and Rabinowitz were completely ahead of their time. Not only did they think of engaging in social broadcasting in the era of television and radio, they expanded it to reach two different states. It is a literal example of an “alternative social world” where people from different states could interact through a life-sized live screen as seen in the image above. To think that to even be talking and looking at a person from another state live would have been impossible at that point in time without Galloway and Rabinowitz’s revolutionary project just amazes me. Indeed, we have come a long way technologically since projects as such. Today, we can easily reach a person at the opposite end of the world simply by the touch of a small phone screen.

I also got to watch live, an online performance by Annie Abrahams in collaboration with Antye Greie, Helen Varley Jamieson, Soyung Lee, Hương Ngô, Daniel Pinheiro, and Igor Stromajer (see image above) called “Online En-semble – Entanglement Training”. I was really excited to see an art piece by Annie Abrahams which was properly prepared following a protocol. Prior to that, my classmates and I were very privileged to have had her join our class through Adobe Connect where she read us protocols for us to carry out mini performances. It was very on-the-spot and without practice thus the results were not the best in my opinion. Even so, Annie Abrahams was the sweetest to keep commending our efforts.

I was actually surprised that the process of an online collaborative performance as such was not as easy as I thought. So much effort had to be put in to coordinate and work together. This is not including the minor technical mishaps such as the sound system and lagging screens. This was why I was really interested to watch her live performance on the first day, knowing the struggles behind producing one.

Lo and behold, it was a beautiful experience. The visuals that came out of it were fantastic as you can see in the screenshots I have taken above. Of course, we can never run away from technical issues. The amazing thing about Annie Abrahams is that she sees the beauty of the technical problems unlike many human beings. We tend to frustrate over lags and bad connections but she does not see them as a bad thing at all. Instead, she utilises it to creating something more beautiful. According to Randall Packer, in one of her online sessions, the webcam experienced technical difficulties yet she used it to her advantage by creating an eye-catching visual by getting the participants to purposely turn their cameras on and off, creating a blinking image (Randall Packer, 2018, Disentangling the Entanglements). I appreciate that she creates art out of flaws and includes it in final performance recordings to truly express the beauty of it.

The most interesting part of “Online En-semble – Entanglement Training” was when participants read out the latency in their connections as their screens are blacked off as seen in the image above. This makes the latencies the subject of the performance start. It interested me because it shows how we are all in the same online “third” space together but not actually really at the exact same time. This brings about the question of how close can the proximity of relationships exist through a third space? Will technology ever bring it to be the same as real-life relationships?

The participants variate between saying out the latencies and the word “excellent”. A comment that caught my interest was “the latencies are similar to rocket take-off voiceovers”. It made me look at the performance piece in a different perspective. This brings me back to my point on how the chat system enables fresh perspectives or feedback to be provided live.

On the second day, guest speaker Matt Adams from Blast Theory talks about the history and works of his group. Blast Theory infuses interaction into their works through the use of interactive media such as games. Their works are great examples of social broadcasting. Their works allow the interaction between the broadcasters and audience. In a way in fact, the idea of an audience is being negated. For example, in “I’d Hide You” (see video below), he gathered four participants to play a game whereby they had to run around the city to sneakily look for and take pictures of one another. Thing is, the game cannot be run without participation of the “audience” being people online and passer-bys in real life as well.

The players had to rely on the “audience” who had access to a full map of the whereabouts of other players to emerge victorious. In this case, the audience become the “artist” who decides the outcome of the game, who they want to support or defeat.

I think that this is a creative way to express the idea of doing it with others. They had to rely on collaboration to carry out the broadcast. The same goes to works of Annie Abraham and several other online performance artists as such. I do agree that we should be working towards creating an “alternative social world” given the advanced technology that we have today. To bring together people from all over the world to create beautiful pieces of art is amazing. It moves us away from the self-centered society that we cannot help to be in today’s world of consumerism.


This video plays around the idea of the inner child in me. People use to get excited over chocolates and all things happy, but now, as an adult, they tend to find joy in drinking and such. The joy they experience is reminiscent of the happiness they received over small things, as a child.

Are We Social?

Social broadcasting is the future of traditional medias such as the television and newspaper.

The broadcasting of video, text and pictures directly to an intended audience through social media channels such as Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and other channels as opposed to traditional channels such as radio, TV and print.

Above is the exact definition of social broadcasting. Most social media platforms are available worldwide which makes social broadcasting more extensive and public as compared to television or radio. When you post something online, everyone and anyone can see it. As the name suggests, it is social. Users get to share opinions and perspectives on whatever that is being shared online. Not only that, they also get to collaborate and DIWO (Do It With Others). This immensely improves the quality of a piece of work for instance as makers have access to immediate critiques through the net.

AW take 5

“Angry Women” is an example of a work that utilizes social broadcasting. In this piece, several women unite on a shared interface where they can see and hear the rest of the performers all at the same time as seen in the image above.

The women are tasked to express their anger according to a protocol or script until no anger is left as seen in the video above. Annie Abrahams wanted to explore how an expression such as anger in this case can disturb a group’s dynamic. She found that the project created a situation of “lonely togetherness, of life constructing a commonality, of being together and sharing this condition of co-responsibility, of scripted auto-organisation” (Annie Abrahams, Trapped to Reveal, 2011, Journal for Artistic Research).

The most interesting bit about this project to me is the fact that the women are mostly from different parts of the world with different time zones yet they are able to work together. I think that accentuates the wonder of social broadcasting. It enabled communication which then allowed for collaboration. We are able to view the performers live online which would have been impossible through traditional media. Social broadcasting strengthens networks more than ever.

I Am My Desktop

Usually, I get lazy to create new folders to save whatever I am doing into thus, they would all land in the desktop as you can see in the image above. Different Photoshop files and Word documents all over the place. However, I keep it an organized mess. I hate seeing the different files all over the desktop. As for my background, it changes automatically every 30 minutes. It does not get boring that way and I like it.

FBI, here I am!


In this link, you will see random images of food and places as well as Google map with an arrow pointing to one location. Those pictures belong to Hasan M. Elahi, a Bangladeshi-born American who is a interdisciplinary media artist. Those images are a part of his still on-going project called “Tracking Transcience”. Why could he possibly want to show the whole world what he is doing and exactly where he is at?

Following the tragic 9/11 attacks, Elahi’s name was mistakenly added to the US government’s watch list in 2002. As such, an investigation was carried out by the FBI. After around 6 months, Elahi’s name was eventually cleared but the FBI was asked to still keep a watchful eye on him. Thus, Elahi gladly helped the team by executing the project. He allowed every member of the public, worldwide to follow his everyday life from what he eats, sees and wherever he is located as seen in the images below.

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The different hotel beds Elahi has slept on
The food Elahi has eaten
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Map of Elahi’s location

Elahi did this as a way to confront the FBIs and tell them that he really isn’t a terrorist threat in anyway. It’s a way of saying “you asked for it, here’s what you get”. He wanted to give the FBIs exactly what they want. Randall Packer mentioned in an interview with Elahi that “you are your own spy agency spying on yourself” which I thought was a good way to conceptualize this project. The FBIs need not spy on him to dig information on him as he presents everything they want to know on the website where he situates himself very openly.

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Snapchat’s Snap Map

In the beginning, several people commented that Elahi putting himself out there so freely was dangerous. People could plant an attack on him anytime, knowing his whereabouts every minute. However, in the interview with Randall Packer, Elahi mentioned how barely a few years later, it became exactly what social media users are doing. Referring to Elahi’s GPS device that he puts in his pocket everyday to track his location, we can see a similarity in the location-sharing function called “Snap Map” on Snapchat today as seen in the picture above. Anybody can know of your whereabouts as they did for Elahi’s.

It is certainly not rare to see social media users of today posting photos of their meals and loots on the daily especially on Facebook and Instagram. The main difference between their photos and Elahi’s is that Elahi updates his life live while social media users mostly carefully curate what they want to post to keep up with the expectations that the public have of them. This brings me to my point on our digital identity. Unlike Elahi, people today present themselves on the Internet mirroring how they want people to view them. It is never their true selves.

“If we choose how we present ourselves,
and we choose who we present ourselves to, don’t we risk
just falling into a collective just-so-story about who we are and
what we ought to believe?” – D.E Wittkower

This quote above questions the authenticity of people online. Are we really who we are? To me, social media platforms serve as a barrier to protect our vulnerability and true selves. It shields our weaknesses as we put up our best front. This short film below explains the shield that these platforms are.

A question to ponder on: What turn would social media take if all its users were to update their lives in real-time as Elahi, online without the ability to pick and choose what they want to share?

Burning Out


Related image

Media Burn was an art performance piece organised by a group of artists and architects called Ant Farm. In the piece, a customized 1959 Cadillac renamed the Phantom Dream Car was driven into a bank of television monitors as seen in the image above, causing an explosive collision thus the term, Media Burn. It was driven by two men (artist dummies) decked in astronaut costumes as seen below.

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The whole act also tried to imitate the dramatic atmosphere of a space launch which was why the performance was done with a live audience present. Doug Michaels, co-founder of Ant Farm as John F. Kennedy was present to do interviews as an artist-president. He made a speech about mass media monopolies on the lives of Americans.

“Who can deny that we are a nation addicted to television and the constant flow of media? Haven’t you ever wanted to put your foot through your television?” – Doug Michaels as J.F Kennedy

In an interview with Randall Packer, Chip Lord, another co-founder of Ant Farm said that the piece was first imagined in 1973 in which it took 2 years to actually be executed.

It was executed on July 4th 1975 at San Francisco’s Cow Palace. Ant Farm chose July 4th as the date of performance as they wanted the local news to come and cover it as if it was real. As seen in the video above at minute 4:28 onward, you can see footage of the stunt through news coverage by local news stations and not only through the documentations of Ant Farm’s camera crew which was shot inside of the car itself.

As a team that utilizes the art of sculpture, installation and in this case, performance to condemn American culture and mass media, this is exactly what they are doing. In Media Burn, Ant Farm uses automobile and television sets which at that time, were very prominent icons of American culture. They wanted to address the impact of the strong presence of television and cars in our lives. Burning and destroying the television sets as well as as the car in the end represents the notion of going against the political and cultural influence of the both the elements. Even though they were against the medium of media, they were able to exploit it as seen by the wide news coverage and big public crowd.

With the knowledge that Ant Farm are admirers of automobiles and such, I am intrigued by how they are able to criticize it at the same time. Ant Farm was described as “American as apple pie, but at the same time highly critical of the establishment” (Lewallen, Constance M., Still Subversive After All These Years, n.d.)



We all know of the common term ‘DIY’ which stands for Do It Yourself. DIWO on the other hand stands for Do It With Others and it is pretty self-explanatory. It is basically an approach that enables the collaboration between people in making art. Through DIWO, people get to create collective works which shapes fresher perspectives that would not have been formed if done alone.

DIWO was created by a group called Furtherfield. The makers were intrigued by the “cultural value” of collaboration between people of different visions as compared to ideas of individual works. As such, they created an artware (a software platform) which allows different people to collaboratively work on an art piece to create meaning. This brings me to the importance of an open source network. Connection and collaboration would not be as easy if networks are privatized. Surely, the masses would not want to pay just to work with somebody else thus open source networks are important for DIWO to succeed.

Collaboration through DIWO also negates the notion of an audience. No one is solely viewing the work. Everyone is engaged in creating it. Hence, everyone involved are the artists.

This reminds me of Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece (above) which we watched a video of in the first lesson. She, the supposed artist, simply sits on stage allowing all her viewers to cut pieces of her clothes off. This best exemplifies the collaborative movement. Without her “audience” interacting with her, the performance piece would have remained stagnant. Thus, she is doing it with others (DIWO).

Throughout half the semester that has passed, I have been exposed to many collaborative projects involving the third space. Again, the third space is “the pervasiveness of distributed space… in which we are constantly connected” (Packer R. “The Third Space,” (2014) in Reportage from the Aesthetic Edge). The existence of the third space has improved the efficiency of doing it with others. Through a space accessible by today’s advanced and quick technology, we are able to be involved in DIWO in a flash.

Facebook live with a friend

One of our microprojects, the Tele-stroll is a good example. As seen in the picture above, we utilized Facebook’s live feature to create a collaborative piece called the Tele-stroll. My friend, Jasmine and I were at different areas in Singapore yet we were able to do the same things at the same time through negotiation and communication which is essentially what a third space serves to do.

DIWO also enables the creation of collective narratives. People are able to come together to put forth a message.

Screenshot 2014-08-25 13.51.38

An evident example that I have learned of in this class is an artwork called The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence (1994) by Douglas Davis. Anyone with access to the internet could contribute to making the sentence longer. Anyone could add to the story that is being typed out. As people read previous sentences and add on to them, it creates a narrative that is made through connection and interaction.

Telematic Embrace

In class, we also did a micro-project called Telematic Embrace which is a collective narrative through the movement DIWO. We got to interact collectively through an online platform called Adobe Connect. As a class, we did a series of different poses and created beautiful images, one of which you can see above. We created the symbol “X” without even physically being directly next to each other.

All in all, I am for DIWO. I feel that it is a great way to sustain human interactions with the rise of technology that may be slowly isolating us from it. Through collaboration and negotiation, people are able to create works far beyond what they could have managed singly.

Hello World!

Screenshot of the video diaries playing simultaneously

“Hello World!” or: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP LISTENING AND LOVE THE NOISE  is a video installation piece put together by Christopher Baker in 2012. First-time video diaries of over 5000 people all over the world taken from Facebook and Youtube are stitched together on a large screen as seen in the image above.

From afar, it just looks like blinks of colourful video squares and accompanied by a cacophony. That is in fact, the goal of Christopher Baker. He wanted viewers to be immersed in the cacophony while viewing an array of random personal video captures.

Audience member closing up on the installation to view an individual video

At the same time, viewers are also able to take a step closer and turn their focus to an individual speaker. This is possible because he plays around with the volumes of each speaker where he would raise the volume of one voice above the cacophony as heard in the video.

In an interview with Dazed Digital, Christopher Baker states that today’s technology which allows for people of the everyday to be heard is what inspired him for this project. He was interested in the feelings of a “vlogger” (video blogger) which made him question:

“Do they feel like they are contributing to something? Or, is it simply enough to speak and have one’s voice heard?”

In a platform so wide, it is difficult to be sure if you are contributing to anything through the vlogs that you make. You can be putting in the most effort in it, crafting the message you think is best and gathering up courage to post it  but in a sea of videos so similar, are you really heard? “Hello World!” represents this. The world of internet reduces everyone to just average. One would need to vigorously stand out to truly be heard.

This project is a great example of a collective narrative. A collective narrative refers to the “sharing and open exchange of conversation, ideas, information, and media that leads to a synthesis of voices” (Packer, Randall, Open Source Studio, IEEE Spectrum, 2015). In “Hello World!”, Christopher Baker did not create any new content from scratch. Instead, he collected readily available videos of people worldwide and pieced them together. This essentially means that the art of the project itself (the cacophony and abstract image of the collective videos) is made by the owners of those videos. He compiled the videos as they are and left it for the audience to view which creates a collective narrative. In a way, he collaborates with the audience to create a message from his project. It depends on how the audience views the piece. Thus, it is no longer the individual opinion in a personal form but “a collective activity that is highly collaborative” (Packer, Randall, Open Source Studio, IEEE Spectrum, 2015).