Facebook. The original superficial website transformed and metamorphasized into something completely new and surprisingly meaningful. That is to say that Facebook has forged an entire generation of users connected together by a mere “www” on the internet. FaceBook at its prime was the main source of communication among friends and family, especially those whose loved ones moved overseas. Now, it has become a hubbub community filled with pictures, videos, games, and even companies that communicate with people from all over the world regardless of being “friends”. Through Facebook we have become exposed to so much information globally yet at the same time it still strengthens our relationship with those important to us. For example, we see a video of an amazing icecream parlour in New York, which reminds you of your good friend who you always go out to eat icecream together with. So you tag this friend or share the information with her and you start talking and reminiscing about past icecream dates or plan on a new icecream date. Also when friends update aspects of their life through Facebook, you are given an insight into their life, which fortifies the bond among one another.
In response to D.E. Wittkower’s article, “A Reply to Facebook Critics”, I understand where he is coming from. Facebook though with its own sets of problems should not be slammed by critics or put on a societal blacklist. It has served us so many boons as well as banes. Also, the idea of criticizing the application Facebook is erroneous in the sense that Facebook is not the application but the people behind it. Facebook is what is is because of the people you use it, we decide the way Facebook serves in our life whether it be to send memes to one another or if it is to get an insight into the lives of our friends who ultimately mean something to us or do not mean something to us.
“Facebook, for the most part, is people.”
D.E. Wittkower, “A Reply to Facebook Critics”
Looking through Hasan Elahi’s work a whirlwind of thoughts went through my mind. From sympathy at the assumptions made based on physical appearance to marvel at the dedication behind his piece “Tracking Transience”. To constantly and consistently document ones daily life is a very tedious task that not many people can pursue. Even when I tried the “Super Participation” micro-project, I found it very difficult to document everything from significant events to trivial habits. However, I noticed that as the day went by updating my Facebook became more natural. Hasan Elahi’s work is genuinely candid and truthful yet has a satirical touch that can be experienced by not just the artist himself but also the audience clicking onto his website.
Hasan Elahi, a normal professor at the University of Maryland, was brought into questioning at the airport due to a tip off about being a potential terrorist. He was later placed on the most wanted list. Though his innocence has been proven and he has been released from federal custody, he is still being supervised by the government. This led to surveillance art. Hasan Elahi’s surveillance art is comprised of his entire life for the the past several years, from credit card statements to locations and even phone calls. This way, not just the FBI but everyone can see and in a way serve as a witness to his story.
Hasan Elahi stated that when he would tell people he was an artist, many of them would ask him “So what medium do you use?” We have come to the age in human history where art is no longer just limited to the traditional media but has expanded to site-specific instillations to collaborative web based artworks to even experience orientated art. “Tracking Transience 2.0” incorporates the digital with human experience and observation. We as the audience get to experience Hasan Elahi’s life the way he did but yet the experience is only limited to our eyes. This in a sense is like Facebook, we are deliberately entering the website to see what someone we know well or do not know well is doing. We want to know because we care, we care about the lives of others because in a ways it relates to our own lives. And “Tracking Transience 2.0” in a way has done that– relate to our lives. To those who love to post their daily occurrences on social media to those who feel paranoid over a presence even those just like to see how others live their lives. “Tracking Transience 2.0” in a way has touched our inner desire to connect and form relationships with people.
(I cannot add an image. Every time I do, it states that there is an “HTTP error”.)
“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.
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.
The third space. A space that combines our current space with another space. Yet, it is nearly impossible to coexist in two of the spaces simultaneously. However, this does not mean that we can not communicate with other who have stepped into the third space along side you. In a sense as we step into the third space, we are remodelling it to become our first space.
(Image of everyone coming online on Adobe Connect)
We used Adobe Connect, a more professional counterpart to Skype and FaceTime, as our platform to access the third space. Our third spaces is occupied by our entire class (except two students who could not manage to log on). Originally, we were meant to be located in different first spaces but for the sake of efficiency and time we stayed in the Foundation 4D room. We played around with different activities that connected all of us through the third space. We tried connecting our arms to create a row, touched fingers with the people next to us, covered the screen in a monochrome color, and more.
(Image of one of the activities)
The entire experience was fun and amusing. There were a lot of laughs however, that was mostly because we were in the same first space that allowed us to make jokes and see the reaction with others as we did some of our ridiculous activities. Other than the occasional laughs, I felt that fascinated by the experience. Sure, I’ve used Skype to call a friend and gave her a “Hi-5” or exchanged food with Bella during our Telematic Stroll. But to something of this scale with so many people and such unique activities was a novel moment in my third space career.
(Images of activity requiring aligning our body parts)
Though we were in the same first space, we can see people trying to align their hands and arms without discussing it with one another. We had the opportunity and temptation to yell out to the student whose screen was above mine to align our fingers yet we withheld the urge and used the screen itself. This in a way shows how we truly cannot completely be in the first space as well as the third space. We were aware we were in the same room physically yet our mind kept telling us to focus our thoughts in the third space.
(Image of our hands close up)
The third space. Though not an official word in the dictionary, is a word that relates to many of us in this society. We spend so much time in our third space then we do in any other space (granted we are usually asleep while we are in our first space). People usually assume that once we are in the third space or “glued to our phones” that we are completely isolated and anti-social. But they do not realize that the third space is like a community of other like minded people who we can interact and connect with.
“Art challenges technology, and technology inspires art.”
– John Lasseter, Chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios and DisneyToon Studios.
In 1980, a live art instillation situated in both New York and California simultaneously is considered one of the earliest forms of live networked media art. This instillation titled, “Hole-in-Space” was launched by artist Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, founders of the Electronic Cafe. These two artists dabbled in the advancing technological side of art that began soon after the introduction of the World Wide Web. The two artistscreated a digital bridge that connect the physical distance in our reality. This bridge is located in a place called the “third space”, a space that is not physical where ideas coexist. The bystanders are thrusted into this third space, their own little world, without any previous knowledge or expectation of what this instillation would do.
The instillation required two screens, one in the Lincoln Center in New York City and the other in Century City in Los Angles, that were connected by one satellite. Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz created the first live telecast that functioned on realtime between the two different coasts. This live art instillation can be dubbed in today’s society as one of the “first Factime or video call”.
The beauty of the video linked above is that it allowed me to see the candid and genuine reactions of the people who experienced this phenomenon. To us, those who were born and raised in the age where smartphones and LTE (4G Data) is a social norm, the idea of freaking out seems overly dramatic and silly ( 2:40 Audience in LA realizes that the other audience is from New York City). However, society at that time never in their wildest chance believed that this could happen. These people lived their lives thinking that they couldn’t see the uncle who moved to West Coast to pursue his career as a director until he made enough money to come back for Thanksgiving. The audience even believed that the screen was just a prerecording of actors acting as if it was real time (3:03). This was time in our modern history where everything felt so pure and untouched by harms of the World Wide Web. Everyone was just having fun and reveling at the wonders of the third space.
“Heinekin! Here! You got it! You got it! You got it!… Here you go baby!”
“One for me!”
– The audience enjoying themselves and interacting with one another (by passing a beer) through the third space
This Iive art piece, contrary to other live performances where the audience merely watches the artist in his or her element, requires the help of the unsuspecting and curious audience. Granted, by the last telecast, many people made plans to meet each other at the two locations. Specifically a The unclear nature of the project allowed the artwork to be completely be run by the audience by letting them interpret the work in their own way. Certain people used this project to see the face of loved ones who they haven’t seen in a while, while others as seen in the video, started to treat this as a chanceto bring about their flirty side. This in a sense makes the audience, the artist and the artist, the audience. The intended audience becomes the artist because they have total control and paint the essence of the artwork on the blank screen. While the original artist becomes the audience as they witness how the “new” artists choose to pursue the artwork.
Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz’s “Hole-in-Space” is a revolutionary piece of art that has continued to influence future generations of artists. Such as the artistic duo, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, who perform live art from different places in the world. Specifically, their “Limitless Distances” performance, which is about longing, distance, and connection. The artists performed this at “Meno Parkas” gallery in Kaunas, Lithuania and artist residency “Route-Art-Rageous” in Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Technology has influenced our society in many ways, from education to leisure and art. Art no longer pertains to traditional mediums such as painting and sculpture but it has expanded to ready made objects and technology.
Entering the Experimental Interaction classroom, I had no idea what we would be expecting. We could assume that it would be about different modes of interaction from physical to spacial but we never really thought about internet. Internet has become the main mode of communication between people locally and globally. Internet connects us as well as serves as a platform for expression and storage system. In this micro-experiment, we used the Live video function provided by Facebook to record fifteen minutes of our time and then post it on a Live Video Wall.
LIVE FACEBOOK WALL
The wall was such an interesting way of compiling all the videos. The way it was laid out was like a newsroom where there are multiple screens taking in information from different places around the world (different time zones and locations). And though everyone is on the same wall, every screen shows people own little world. Even if the 15 minute journey was in the same school, everyone’s journey seemed different and unique.
Filming the video was an amusing experience for my friends and me. We released our “inner youtuber” with a “vlogging” style way of recording our videos. We acted silly while walking around the school from the Foundation 4D room to the Sunken Plaza. And the fact that there were people around the school who were unaware of our micro-project, mad the experience even more hilarious.
The power of technology has allowed us to connect with people in such a creative yet simple way. And though some people see technology as something that creates more problems such as; anti-social behavior, disillusionment, and accidents. Technology, like everything else in this world, and a flip side to it. Technology branches people from all over the world together and allows people to fortify those connections.
For our final project in our Foundation 4D class, we were tasked with combining all we have learnt from previous projects to create our final video. While the main focus of our project was time, we could incorporate what ever it is we desired. From photography to video, even an interactive installation piece. For my project, I decided to make a video that depicts a real time footage of two FaceTime calls from different timezones.
Types of Time
Real Time is also known as clock time, which is the actual time that is passing. It follows the actual, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, and etch perception of time. There is no manipulation or distortion, it is completely raw. Experienced Time:
Experienced Time is the time that we believe or feel has passed, our experienced time could be longer, shorter, or even exactly the same duration as our real time. Experienced Time has a multitude of different factors, from personal experienced, cultural upbringings, or mental perceptions and schemas. Biological Time:
Biological Time is the time that is based on our bodily functions. Biological time consists of waking up, going to the bathroom, the time it takes to digest food, and other bodily activities. Edited Time:
Edited Time is a manipulated version of clock time. Edited Time can range from slow motion to time lapse to even time jumps from one time to another.
(for my project I focused on Real Time that makes you question your Experienced Time)
The reasoning behind my project stems from personal experience. As a child who has moved around different countries every once and a while, I have had to say goodbye to different friends. These friends either move back to their home country or I end up moving somewhere else. When I was young, keeping in touch was not as important as it is now. This became more of a problem in HighSchool, because our relationship has been through much more and our desire to keep in touch is stronger. However, due to time differences, our means of communication have decreased. We try our best to match each other’s schedule and balance out the video call so that it does not take too much of our sleep time. All these factors have made it very difficult to make video calls frequent, making our video calls that do happen so important and memorable.
Treasuring every video call because I believed that my friend and I were literally talking to one another at the same time (like we would in the past), I thought we defied the intangible problem of space and time. However, I realized that video call is yet to be perfected, it is constantly lagging and pausing. Messing up our perceived time even more, because I video call that lasted 10 minutes can seem like 15 minutes (filled with pauses and lags). By placing the recordings side by side, I hoped to show that even though it feels like we are in the same room and talking about the same thing, we are actually separated by something more intangible than a mere laptop screen.
I wanted to emphasize the struggle and troubles we go through to talk to our loved ones when we are overseas. And not only is the mode of communication the only problem I wanted to highlight, but also the constant oblivion one feels not knowing what happens to their loved ones who run on an entirely different cycle as them. Specifically, my friend who is studyung in New York is a very close friend of mine; however one day there was an accident involving a man in a truck who injured many people. After hearing this news the next day, I immediately texted my friend and asked if she was alright. My friend responded that she was alright and that after she heard the news the previous afternoon she was worried as well. Though we live in the same world, we experience events and feelings at such different times. This disparity between people and time is the main message I wanted to convey in my project.
Inspiration for the Video
Modern Family, an American sitcom about an extended family who is quite “modern” and has to deal with the difficulties that come from common social issues such as sexuality, adolescence, cultural identity, judgement, and being connected in such a fast paced society. Modern Family has already reached its ninth season, however, the specific episode that partially inspired this idea was the sixteenth episode of the sixth season. This episode title “Connection Lost” was filmed entirely on Apple Products, from the Macbook to the iMac to the iPad and iPhone.
The layout of the entire episode is what you would see on a typical Macbook, as the mother tries to locate the whereabouts of her daughter before her flight back home. This leads to a wild goose chase that involves contacting her entire extended family and creating more moments with one another. While the moral of this story was to draw the line between privacy and technology as well as the importance of taking a break from technology, the way they portrayed this message (through video call) inspired me to try something similar,
Planning the Project
Planning for this video was more tedious then expected. Since the two friends I asked to be a part of my video did not have access to certain equipment, we had to improvise.
For my friend in New York, I had her record the video and audio on her computer while I would record video on my phone (and use someone else’s phone to record the audio). This was difficult because I had to borrow and carry two phones while making it seem natural.
For my friend from Australia, our roles were reversed, I recorded from my computer while she recorded from her phone. The reversal was necessary because her computer was a PC ( and we were unfamiliar with PC’s abilities and was not sure if it could record her computer screen). For many western universities, the past couple of weeks have been exam period; so when my friend and I FaceTimed she was in the library.
Rather than being a difficult video to plan, it was more tedious because of the small trivial inconveniences that arose. I believe this is due to the fact the purpose of this video is to capture a mundane, raw, and every day occurrence. And we can not help these trivial situations to occur because life is full of minor speed bumps that we have to learn to overcome and move on.
Filming the Video
To record the footage, we used the screen recording application on the new IOS for IPhone’s while the audio was recorded using QuickTime’s audio recording function. For the scenes recorded on the computer, we used QuickTIme’s screen recording function.
I made sure that for my friend in New York that I would be the one who had to film outdoors at night instead of her. This was because I know how dangerous New York can be after dark, even inside her campus. I felt safer if I was the one who had to commute in the dark in NTU because I knew how safe the area was. However, this did end up making her film outside in the cold (slight overcast in Fall).
For some reason the IPhone screen recording disconnects when receiving a call. Which resulted in only having footage from one side of the time zone, the one who made the call. To counteract this problem, one friend was on a computer while the other friend made the call through her phone.
We used GoogleDrive to transfer the files between each other because certain files were too big to fit in one email.
Editing the Video
Editing the video was difficult because I have little experience with Premier Pro, however, this was the only application on my laptop that allowed me to create a split screen effect on one composition. This split screen effect was necessary to emphasize the idea of feeling as if we were in the same room but ultimately being in two different parts of the world.
However, as I started to work on the video more and more, old memories of how to use Premier Pro came back to me and I was able to create the video with more ease than previous.
One technicality of this video that was difficult to overcome, was synchronizing the video and audio as accurately as possible. In real life, the audio and the video do not synchronize perfectly instead there are glitches and lags that occur throughout the entire call. And trying to match the audio with the video glitches and the video with audio lags was a very confusing process. In the end I realized that the audio of a certain person will always match the video from that persons phone. This explains why we always feel as if our connection is perfectly fine but there is something wrong with the other person’s connection. Using this as a golden rule, I continued to edit the video.
Displaying the Video
I asked everyone to take out their laptops (or phones) and an earphone when watching my video. This is because I wanted to recreate the same experience one would go through when they are FaceTiming someone. FaceTiming is a very personal one on one experience with the person on the screen and the earphones help block out external noises. My classmates have the option of watching either video, in a way it was more based on chance. I asked my classmates to chose either of the links displayed on the projector screen. Based on the views, I believe that at least 3:4 split between the class.
I also named the videos with the respective time difference between me and the friend. One friend who studies in New York City is labeled at -13 because New York is 13 hours earlier than Singapore while my friend who is currently on an exchange program in Australia is labeled as +3 because Australia is 3 hours ahead of Singapore. Choosing to label the video with numbers rather than the country name or my friends name left the viewers wondering what on earth the numbers represented. Not only until they watch the entire video do the viewers start to piece together the clues.
Real Time and Experienced Time
The Real Time:
This project is filmed and projected in real time, so the audience watching the video and the people filming the video are all experiencing real 10 minutes of footage. However, the fact that they are experiencing this clock time of 10 minutes is further confuse the audience after they take note of the time difference and the discrepancies in-between.
The Experienced Time:
I wanted to warp the audiences experienced time by playing with their perception. While they see that the video is roughly 10 minutes long, I hope that in the end they feel as if they watched something longer or something different. I also hope that in the end they wonder what happens after the video and while my classmates can predict what I could be doing after the video call, I hope that they are curious about what my friends will end up doing as well.
Reflection on the Project
It is so hard sometimes to think about the other side of the world, or even imagine an area that is sleeping soundly while we are commuting from place to place under the bright sun. Social media and Video Platforms may seem like a bane of modern society because of the detrimental effects it has on the youth, but there will always be two sides of a coin. And to me, the positive side of advanced technology is the way it tries its best to connect the world together. Sometimes, technology does not fall through and causes more dissociation through miscommunication and lags; however, in the end it gives us a moment to treasure. Though we live in different countries, cities, and streets or speak different languages and embrace different culture, we still coexist in the same world.
Future Possible Projects
As I was working on this project, I continued to think about other possible projects I could do based off of time. Especially, after the Time Jewelry Series I once sketched a couple years back. Two specific projects, one that deals with the gradual yet unpredictable vulnerability of time and another that like the project above deals with the idea of different times coexisting regardless of A.M. and P.M.