Everyone’s got a Dark Side.

Annie Abrahams was born in the Netherlands and has been based in France since 1985. She holds a PhD in Biology from the University of Utrecht and is a graduate in fine arts from the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten, Arnhem. Annie Abrahams’s work reflects on the idea of networking technologies as well as installations and performances in physical space. She engages on  the disentanglements in the entanglements in order to understand the nature of the third space as we progressively bury ourselves in.

In the article Trapped to Reveal, Annie Abrahams mentioned how in Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together describes how as technology further evolves, we progressively hide behind technology more and more. The intimacy in communications become something we rather avoid than to look for. A perfect example of this would be the use of smartphones and the internet. It helps us flee from our fear of the other. However, it is suggested that social media such as Facebook teaches us how to simulate intimacy, to make relations easy and clean. Despite this, it contrasts to the last article we were assigned about false identity and what may seem real may be not necessarily the truth. Brad Troemel argues in the same lines of how

“The process of image management on Facebook is already less an outpouring of expression than it is an exercise in omission of information about one’s self”. 

With this said, the relations made in the third space can become something superficial and everything we know may be nothing.

Annie Abrahams questions the state of happiness and how can we allow our true and honest self exist without masking. She expresses how we humans

“need to make space for the beast in the beauty, to go back to reality, to claim the human.”

This inspired her to create the project of ‘Angry Women’. Project Angry Women is a live performance broadcast carried out in 2012. It looks over the expression and behaviour of ‘Angry Women’ as well as time and space. 12 minutes long, 9 women are set in front of their webcams, connected via a common interface where they expressed their anger and irritations. This emotion-filled, melodramatic project was also conducted on females across the globe, breaking cultural barriers. Women participated expressed themselves through screams, cries and delusional laughter. It was latterly carried out with mixed genders. This project aimed to study the human behaviour, where we are the most vulnerable to reveal a side that we do not usually show. It reflects how we show less of our vulnerable yet true side, masking behind technology and putting the fake out there. Social media platforms became such a norm in this generation that it curate us to create a digital identity that portrays a ‘perfect’ life. We forget the human in us: the anger, the sadness, the fear; and display the positive traits to others where we are thought to be easily accepted. Thus, we shield away the negative traits and forge a fake digital identity. In contrast, Annie Abrahams embraces the negativity and the loss of human traits in us, exposing the inner frustration and anger of women.


Furthermore, Angry Women captures the concept of DIWO. The project could not be carried out alone nor without a team of participants from different backgrounds. Discussions and ideas on anger were exchanged in the perception of each individual and how it can influence the dynamics of others. This gives the audience and the artist herself a valuable study on human behaviour.

During the interview between Furtherfields and Annie Abrahams, Annie Abrahams mentions that her main aesthetic component would be human behaviour, hence calling her artworks “behavioural art”. She compares what she does now to what she did during her Biology studies. In both cases, she observes behaviour in constrained situations.

“The monkeys, that were the study objects became” humans and the cage the Internet.”

What struck me upon reading the interview was that, Annie Abrahams stated that when one participates in her performances means taking a risk.

“Nothing is rehearsed, means accepting, you can’t control everything. It means committing to continue even if all seems to go wrong, to be attentive to the others around you with whom you share the performance space, with whom you are co-responsible for the shared moment in time.”

This suggests that we should try to open up spaces and discussions with people who have other opinions other than yours, to go beyond safety-zones, to find ways to communicate with and about hatred, angst and love. Going against the norm of portraying our carefully curated digital identity and showing our true selves. Global telecommunications have challenged and penetrated all previous notions of the divide between public and private space, shaping a world that may be no longer ‘human’. However, after reading and absorbing all this information, are we really going to change for the better and stop curating our digital identity. Is the fear of being shamed to great due to the overly judgemental world we live in? Are we fearful of each other? Thus, acting the way in which we perceive we want to be but hiding the anger and frustration deep within us. Everyone’s got a side that we don’t show, even I do. 



Everything Is Not What It Seems.

Wittkower’s article, “A Reply to Facebook Critics,  has made me reflect upon the living digital era and how users of Facebook has moulded their own individual digital identity. Facebook, an online social platform was created to allow the society to reach out, connect with others and voice our own opinions and views across the globe. However, we have turned it into something more, something real yet superficial in our lives. It acts as a mirror, reflecting our social behaviour and existence, revealing our likes and dislikes in the community. Moreover, the article brings out an important statement where being friends online has no meaning, as it may be that you are not friends in real life. I am sure all of us have those online friends where not necessarily we know each other in real life. This reflects the curiosity built within human beings, where we are all curious about each other. Surveilling ourselves, as well as each other. The lives we display in the digital world and online friends. Our lives are just like empty pages, everyday we are creating and documenting to fill up the book.

Another interesting point that Wittkower brought up was that one thing could mean thousands of different things or it could mean nothing to someone. Each of us see value in a variety of aspects. Who is what to say what is right and what is wrong. The norm in society just sets a standard where society could follow and share similarities with others in order to connect and feel ‘belongness’. Following on the psychology principle of socio-cultural, all human beings are social animals and has a need to belong. It may not necessarily apply to you as you could think otherwise. Living in a harsh and judgemental society whom may not be brave enough to voice out, this could lead to a creation of identity that may not be even true. Everything that is out there is not what it may seem. Just like Facebook, we post what we want to post to let others see and hide the things we do not want to show. We shape our profile in a certain way to be accepted in society. Or is it that the Facebook generation has shaped the way we are, what we want to share or hide, what we want our lives to look like in a profile page. Have we lost our true selves while creating a digital identity in a reflection of who we want to be but not necessarily who we are.

“The indeterminacy allows us users plenty of space to make things mean what we want them to. If there’s anything humans are good at, it’s creating meaning through social interactions.”

In 2002, Bangladeshi-born American Elahi was mistakenly associated with terrorist activities. He was returning from one of his frequent trips abroad when he was detained in the airport. The FBI opened an investigation on him, which they pursued for the next six months. Instead of panicking or resisting, he decided to collaborate by starting Tracking Transience, what he calls “a project in self-surveillance.” He documents the locations and minute details of his day-to-day activities, then makes them available to the public and the FBI on his website and in his art. Not only is Elahi giving visual and textual information but there is an independent third party, his bank, which verifies his location and time where these point cross-reference through his purchases.


In the interview between Hasan Elahi and Randall Packer, he states that what he post may not be what it seems.

“As artists, we try to create experiences. The end result of Tracking Transience is the experience of going through the information and realising the reversal that’s taken place. By telling you everything, I’m really telling you nothing. I actually live a private and anonymous life and that you know very little about me. Telling you one part of my story.”

This says everything; how we choose the side we want to show that may tell you nothing but just the surface. Elahi also questions that is the project still considered art if everyone, the billion people out there did it. He views art as a creative problem solving between the digital world and society. Tracking Transience 2.0,  was to make a point, a conceptual work where the motivation sets it apart. He did not feel exposed as he was just like a spy agency spying on himself, and through this, watching became apart of entertainment. He also commented that artists has a responsibility of being a chronicler of what is happening immediately around their society.

After watching a TED talk by Hasan Elahi, Hasan Elahi vs. the FBI: The Art of Self-Surveillance, Elahi mentions that uploading and posting is not a big deal, it is something we all do in our daily lives, creating our own archives. To give someone information directly, it gives a different identity.

Through this project, Elahi brings a point where we have become a global society of surveillance and he has tapped into this phenomenon by giving up his data willingly and profusely on a daily basis by merging art and his daily life. Giving excess information to everyone and sharing everything which devalues private information. However, he is also able to access the logs of who is viewing him on his website. So who is watching who? As Elahi mentioned, has watching unconsciously become apart of entertainment in our lives? Is that why we ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ each other on social platforms, even though we might not know or have met each other in real life? Do we unconsciously compare and shape ourselves to fit within the digital norm in the need of belongness? Creating a digital identity that might not be what it reflects.

Interview between Hasan Elahi and Randall Packer.
I share everything. Or do I?
https://www.ted.com/talks/hasan_elahi (TEDTalk: Hasan Elahi vs. the FBI: The Art of Self-Surveillance)
Wittkower, D. E. (2010). “Facebook and Philosophy: What’s on your Mind? A Reply to Facebook Critics,” Popular Culture & Philosophy