Artist Selection: Blast Theory

Blast Theory

For my Hyperessay, I chose a new media piece by a Portslade-based artists’ group called Blast Theory, renown for their works that mix interactive media, digital broadcasting and live performance. The piece is an interactive, immersive, and collaborative work called, “I’d Hide You”. Linked below is the trailer for Blast Theory’s, “I’d Hide You”.

But who and what is Blast Theory exactly? What is it that they do? Blast Theory is in a sense, a community of pioneering artists creating interactive art pieces to explore social and political questions. Blast Theory does this by letting the audience members to play a vital role in the overall outcome of the production and outcome of the artwork. This way, the audience becomes the artists while the artist becomes the viewer. This makes the exploration of social and political questions a more personal and thought-provoking experience for the audience.

The Artists Behind Blast Theory

Blast Theory was created in 1991 by Matt Adams, Niki Jewett, Will Kittow and Ju Row Farr. And as mentioned before, Blast Theory uses a multitude of media; such as performance, installation, video, and online technology to highlight social and political issues that surround the very media they use. What makes Blast Theory avant-garde is the way they meld scientific technology with collaborative art while still taking a stance on social topics. Some of their other well-known works include- “Can You See Me Now?”, “Uncle Roy All Around You”, “Kidnap”, “Gunman Kill Three”, and “Karen.”

“Kidnap” (1998)
Picture from Blast Theory Website

“Gunman Kill Three” was one of their earliest works and was geared more towards live and performance art. This work and several other early works focused on the club culture to create multimedia performances. Even in their early works interactivity played a key role in the performance. “Kidnap” was one of Blast Theory’s more controversial and risky works due to the issue the piece tackled as well as the method Blast Theory chose to communicate the message with. “Kidnap” is an interactive and immersive experience that gives the participants a genuine “kidnapping” experience (with their prior consent). Blast Theory wanted to underscore the themes of violence, pornography, and politics. In “Can You See Me Now?” and  “Uncle Roy All Around You” are two of their successful multimedia pieces that integrated locative media with mixed reality.

“Can You See Me Now?” (2001)
Picture from Blast Theory Website

What drew me to Blast Theory was their ability to incorporate technology often associated as “anti-art” with social and political issues to create a stimulating an interactive art piece. This idea of mixing and recreating has always been an important value in my life and to see a group of artists express it so beautifully and simply resonated with me. Not only does Blast Theory feel like a source of comfort but also plays a part in inspiring me. Blast Theory stimulates both the audience and themselves. The artists within the group constantly try to challenge themselves with new technology, methods, and issues by pushing themselves to be more innovative and courageous.

In my next post, I will be discussing in more detail the art piece by Blast Theory that I have chosen to analyze for my Hyperessay.

Fresh produce at ANT Farm


ANT Farm is the name of a group of artists and architects based in San Francisco. These artists produced experimental work between 1968 and 1978, by incorporating a variety of different media such as; architecture, performance, happenings, sculpture, installation, and graphic design. Many of the pieces were archived using camera. And the works often focused its attention on the latest technologies only to critisize it make commentary on the effects it had on the American Culture, specifically video and television. ANT Farm was the product of, like many art movements of the past, a response to a current mode of thinking or predicament. America during the 1960s was full of rebellion, embracing the hippie movement, believing in being a non-conformist, and the birth of rock n roll. ANT Form built itself on these ideas and added a creative twist by incorporating video and new media technology. Examples of ANT Farm’s commentary work on the new technology or television can be seen in Cadillac Ranch, Media Burn, and the Eternal Flame.

“Ant Farm as a media collective was part of the communalism of the 1960s, the rock band, and the emphasis on collaboration and collectivity. Ant Farm also stood for the underground, where ants far from our view build colonies and communities.”

(Quote taken from Randall Packer’s Article on ANT Farm)

ANT Farm, “Media Burn”

ANT Farm’s Media Burn, made on July 4, 1975 at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, is a performance, spectacle and media critique. The basic premise of Media Burn is that it is that ANT Farm set up a collision between two of America’s most cultural symbols, the automobile and television. Even in Cadilac Ranch, we can see the focus on automobiles as not only a cultural icon but also as a metaphor for an even bigger commentary on society. Eternal Flame also plays on the idea of video and its impact on us as we watch the videos content as a physical and digital audience. The collision previously mentioned before is not just a simple collision of ideas or sides but a physical collision that led to fire and the destruction of the TV wall and the car.

Reflecting the ever growing  dependency on television, especially for political purposes or encouraging passivity, Media Burn prerecorded an “Artist-President” who gave a speech on the effect on mass media on society, “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?” And as the televisions display this speech, a 1959 El Dorado Cadillac convertible crashes into it. This piece uses the car once again, as a cultural symbol (as seen in Cadilac Ranch) to address the pervasive existence of television in everyday life. They even recorded this artwork using the same media ANT Farm was making a commentary about.

This work caught my attention. Not just for the fire or the weird combination of seeing a wall of televisions falling on top of a new car. But because it manages to utilize two different icons in order to depict the commentary about our society. ANT Farm has manage to embed so much meaning into these respective icons and create a breathtaking performance. The irony of this work is that the “artist-dummies” that are driving the car being guided by the elaborate monitoring television system to their inevitable destination, which is a big wall of television sets.

(Not finished)



When we hear the word glitch, it’s never a good sign. If a program glitches then it creates more problems than advancements. But in this case, we want to glitch. Glitch in itself is an amalgamation of ideas and inputs that create a whole new invention.

As one of our mini-microprojects, we split ourselves into groups of fours or five and each put in a picture of ourselves in dropbox. We would all take turns creating alterations, “glitches” to the pictures. Accumulating the glitch until our final picture (done by the last person) was finished.

Original Glitch
Glitch Stage 1
Glitch Stage 2
Glitch Stage 3
Glitch Stage 4 (Final Stage)

The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence

The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence

“The Sentence has no end. Sometimes I think it had no beginning. Now I salute its authors, which means all of us. You have made a wild, precious, awful, delicious, lovable, tragic, vulgar, fearsome, divine thing.”

– Douglas Davis, 2000

What is “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence”?

“The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence” is an collaborative and collective network based artwork created in 1994 by Douglas Davis, an artist and media teacher. Though considered as the “author” and “artist” this art piece, Douglas Davis publicly credits those who helped him design the website and other coworker on his website. This artwork is credited as one of the first couple artworks to utilize the World Wide Web after its creation and integration to mainstream society. “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence” started to take on a life of its own as viewers were given the opportunity and freedom to contribute to the sentence in what ever form or style they preferred. One can notice that there are some irregularities in format, theme, and basic flow of the sentences due to the a variety of people from all over the world. In 1995, “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence” was donated to the Whitney Museum and preserved there since then. In 2012, The Whitney Museum planned to reopen this art piece. However, due to the upgraded software of the 21st century and the outdated codes of 20th century, the website was unusable. This led to the eventual conclusion to create a duplicate of the original artwork embedded with modern coding and software that allows the duplicated version to be edited on. That version was opened online allowing a resurgence of this collaborative piece. The original version is still preserved in The Whitney Museum, though it has been locked from further edits with some of the links redirecting you to an external website.

What do I think the “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence” is really saying?

I believe that “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence” is an interactive record of human development and mindset as well as an ironic commentary on our current society. When “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence” was created, Douglas Davis probably had the intention for the website to continue for a long time. If the goal was to great a long collaborative sentence from people all around the world that has access to the World Wide Web, it could only be achieved if people continued to participate. The sentence’s humble beginning as a method of collecting honest feedback regarding a survey about his exhibition transformed into a platform where anybody can post what ever they want when ever they felt like it, regardless of the vulgarities or discrepancies with previous additions. This, in the end, has become a primary source that is still recording the true thoughts and behaviors of humans who tend to unleash their subconscious or emotions on the web. Humans tend to be more honest about their feelings or like to create a false persona of someone who they want to be online because they do not have to taste the physical judgement and scrutiny that befalls physical confrontations. We can see that the “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence” slowly starts to become a platform for people to rant their feelings, as well as the linguistic changes throughout the years (different slang or vulgarities). This may not have been the original intention per-say but like everything in modern society that seems to transform and change, “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence” has metamorphasized into something more than just a simple survey.

Tumblr Notes
Tumblr Notes

On a side not, this way of constantly adding onto an already existing statement reminds of me of the way Tumblr works, where people have a catalyst image or text that triggers a wave of never-ending reblog and notes. (Though these are not the most mature examples, these were the few that I could find)

The irony of the “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence” is that it is written and stored on modern technology. Even though it may the longest textual sentences, it is not necessarily the longest lasting sentence. I say this because most of the links and images attached on the original version of  “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence” can not be accessed because of the outdated codes or the deleted file the “author” trashed after several years. What people assumed would be permanently on the World Wide Web, in the end no longer exists, or is “broken”. This entire situation points out  “the ephemeral nature of the Web…”. This is why I believe that the longest textual sentence is will not be the longest surviving sentence.

And for the “longest existing collaborative sentence” it is still unable to display the proper Korean Characters. It has been 24 years and within those years there have been so many advancements in technology that should be able to help depict the Korean Characters yet for some reason it still remains a garbled mess. Maybe it because the Korean characters were sent in with the old coding making it more difficult to translate it and depict it, but maybe one day it will be possible to actually see what was written in 1995.


Looking through the effect and impact of “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence” has made me think about the idea of collaboration. A collaborative piece involves not only the artist but also the audience, both contribute to the outcome of a collaborative artwork. And continues to have effect as long as one person makes the effort to keep it alive. The beauty of a collaborative work is that each contribution made is unique and personal to the contributor. All these unique pieces amalgamate to an even more unique creation. For example, our current Experimental Class is doing a collaborative art piece. We all have to post one body part every day. (Insert screen shot here). Even this collaborative art piece is a record of our generation, from the pictures you can see different editing techniques and clothing styles, even camera angle techniques unique to each batch of students.


“Do It With Others”



Open Source Studio

Open Source Studio


“Evolution of the Mobile Phone”

Technology. Merely a byproduct of an idea drawn on paper by men and women, has transformed into one of the most influential advancements in modern society. Specifically the creation and expansion of the World Wide Web, an open source of information designed only 25 years ago. Through a short period of time, the internet has managed to influence a large part of our lives and even spread throughout many parts of the world. The influence is so strong that many people, specifically the millennials consider the presence of internet and smart phones as “normal” and “mundane”. When the World Wide Web launched, it served as a platform and tool for many artists.

“Please Change Beliefs”

With the increase in technology, the method of Open Source has made a resurgence in popular culture. The Open Source way of thinking, producing, and distributing art was part of the “norm” until the strong influence of patents, copyrights, and proprietary ownership in the 1980s. Open Source in a sense is “technological production that is collectively authored or manufactured and distributed without profit, or limited profit-sharing according to specific guidelines” (“Open Source Studio” Randall Packer). And Open Source Studio (OSS), is an online free database that encourages users to collaborate together and exchange ideas for inspiration. In a sense Open Source Studio  is another way of “do(ing) it with others” (DIWO).  This peer-to-peer social interaction is a break from the individual, solo based working system encouraged by society. It allows us to bounce back ideas with one another to create the most well thought out and creative product. Which in the end helps the society grow not only through creation but as a community. 


“Teamwork Meme”