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.

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.


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.