Micro-project 7: Bedroom Performance

My alter ego is a bedroom performer. I am jiving to Clairo, whose music video titled ‘Pretty Girl‘ is the inspiration for this video selfie.

Password: bedroom

Clairo is one of many young ‘bedroom’ or ‘dream pop’ artists, including the likes of Frank Ocean, Gus Dapperton etc. who make lo-fi music.

“My TV ain’t HD, that’s too real.” – Frank Ocean

The common goal is to produce minimal music with no frills and containing low-bitrate samples.

Clairo has a low maintenance YouTube channel where she posted a low res webcam video of her in her bedroom mouthing the lyrics and lazy dancing to an original song she wrote. She had no makeup on, greasy hair and a messy background. She played with silly glasses and ugly toys while mouthing the lyrics. The video was grainy and the audio was distorted, and everyone loved it.

By recording my video selfie with Photo Booth, I could alter my identity to take some form of Clairo’s. In the video, I am me, portraying elements of someone else. Like Clairo, I went barefaced with a towel headband, messy room in the background. The overexposed sleeping cat on the bed was unintentional but adds to how I am different from her, despite trying to imitate her video.

In a way, my identity is concealed because I am not speaking in the video. My voice and speech mannerisms, which are part of my identity, are concealed from the audience. The low res video and grain does not give an accurate portrayal of my physical features and environment.

The video is extremely grainy as the Photo Booth camera does not work well in low light. I have a few unsightly props – reflective sunglasses and an ugly pink toy. These items are similar to the ones Clairo uses in her video, but they are my version of those things, which shows some personality of mine.

We have a lot of control over portraying our alter identity, yet so little because of our current identities will still peek through in some ways that are uniquely us.

Group 1: Super-participation Micro Project

In this micro project, we (Kai, Samantha, Bryan, Niki & me) kept a five person Facebook group updated on our lives for 24 hours. There were only two rules to the posts; our 24 hours began at 8am on a Wednesday and we agreed to update every time something changes. What we ended up with is an almost intimate yet casual documentation of a day in the life of five individuals.

View our posts here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Group-1-EI-Super-participation-190058684930622/posts/?ref=page_internal

The things we shared in the group were intuitive and straightforward, whether we were waking up, heading out, being late or sleeping in. Something new happens, we update. Sometimes we shared how we were feeling, even if were just to say, “I’m sleepy” or “this egg tastes gr8”.

Throughout the day, I realised we posted more frequently, like we were getting into a familiar motion. I soon felt it was second nature to pick up my phone before doing any small thing and say, “wait I need to take a picture/video for my Facebook page!!!”. In a span of 18 hours, I used a full bar of battery three times over, made possible by the portable chargers of my accommodating friends.

It was an intimate experience in the sense that the five of us knew exactly where each individual was and what they were doing (given that we were all completely honest). Because the target audience of our posts were each other, we felt more inclined to comment and interact in the group. The level of interaction and information exchanged was high compared to real life where we hardly speak or text. What added on to this interaction was the crossover when Bryan and I met in the morning and when Kai and I met in the evening.

Kai was the realest in the group. She woke up hours after everyone with lots of scheduled posts to remind us she is still in dreamland. The pictures she uploaded were completely unedited and even out of focus. Take for example the ice cream posts from the exact same moment. I took a boomerang (twice) and she took a slanted picture with everyone’s ice cream in motion blur. Our personas are different in the way that I like to portray a more curated version of my life while she just wants to get the point across that she’s having ice cream and she doesn’t care if the audience enjoys her image or not. Then again, maybe she does care, just not for this assignment or this day.

Bryan was the responsible workaholic. When I woke up and checked the group chat, he already posted about getting a head start on his assignment. In the afternoon, he met me to do more work and later in the day he posted about freelance work. It showed his focus and how he got very practical things done in one day.

Samantha was the free spirit. Her posts were generally positive even though bad things were happening. She was comfortable with sharing her thoughts and activities freely, like her getting breakfast even though she was late and videos of herself acting and getting water poured over her.

Niki was the clown. Her posts always included an amusing emoji of sorts and surrounded her getting into sad but funny situations which led to a lot of us leaving comments on her post with encouraging words.

I guess whether we intended to or not, each of us portrayed a digital identity in the group. Analysing each others’ personas from 24 hours of digital interaction may not be accurate, but  perceptions were definitely formed. Since my Wednesday was extremely packed with activities, I met with 4 different groups of people that day with many tasks to fulfil. At the end of 24 hours, my group mates concluded that my life is very “happening” without taking into consideration the day after that – a boring day when I would probably have nothing much to post but a few pictures of my cat and the pink sky. Nonetheless, there is accuracy in the sense that my days can get really busy. Take for example Artist Amalia Ulman who fooled thousands into believing that her as the persona she created was real, purely from her Instagram posts. This shows how easily people form perceptions from personas we create online.

This digital medium may allow people, especially shy ones, to be more comfortable in sharing their thoughts since they don’t have to physically say it out and they are able to edit and curate their words. On the other hand, it still doesn’t allow some people to express their thoughts if they are generally closed up and private people.

Glitch Me

Original Image

1st Glitch: Sihui

2nd Glitch: Me

3rd Glitch: Reuben4th Glitch: Siqi

Glitch Art

Describe how this process of collective image creation and decomposition creates a glitch transformation.

The final collective image was a result of four individuals distorting an image taken by me. We played with Hue/Saturation, Liquify, Line Distortion, Posterise and layering to create the glitch effect at each stage. Randall Pecker describes Glitch Art as the embracing of chaos. The more you mess up, the better. At each stage, we let loose to mess up the image given to us as much as we liked. The transformation can be observed through the four images, how there are some traces of the previous artist’s glitch elements that the next artist decides to retain.

How is each transformation creating a new form of its precursor?

Each transformation builds upon its precursor, whether the artist chooses to retain elements from it or to distort it until its precursor is unrecognisable. A new form is thus created at each stage, no matter how subtle the difference as it is not exactly the same. For example, from stage one to two, the difference is quite huge as the liquify and line distortion are new elements introduced. From stage three to four, the images look mostly similar except for the change in hue and saturation. Therefore, as long as a change is made to its precursor, a new form is created with each transformation.

Research Critique II

I think the third space is a bridge that connects two physical entities into one reality that is virtual and unbound by time or space. The third space can arguably achieve a level of intimacy close to that of two parties being a single setting, while being in completely different locations.

In his article, Randall Packer describes this phenomenon as “the pervasiveness of distributed space and the degree and myriad of ways in which we are constantly connected”.

Packer likens the third space to the fourth dimension, where “spatial trajectories have no boundaries”. Not to say there are no boundaries in the third space, but the extent to which we use the third space can open up new channels for communication and interaction.

In my third micro-project for example, Desmond and I performed an interaction using Facebook live as our bridge to the third space where location was no longer a boundary. We planned to use the third space as a portal to transport an object from my location to his.

The plan was for me (in Location A) to throw a piece of roller coaster snack into Desmond’s mouth (in Location B). I would throw the snack through the “third space”, or out of frame, and we got our friend Samantha to throw the snack to Desmond in his location. This created the virtual illusion of it passing through from my end, and transformed the snack into a third body.

This project allowed us to recreate the intimacy of two people passing items to each other in the same physical space, despite being in separate locations. We connected by speaking to each other over the live video, counting in time so that we were all in sync with the movement of the object.

A project that also transcends locational boundaries through the third space is Hole-in-Space. According to Maria Chatzichristodoulou’s article on Cyberformance, Hole-in-Space was “one of the most celebrated pre-Internet telematic installation/performance works”.

The artists themselves described it as a “public communication sculpture”. People in a certain location were confronted by large, virtual images of people in another city, who they could see and talk to, severing the distance between both locations and creating, like the artists said, an “outrageous pedestrian intersection”.

Micro Project III

Posted by Kwok Quan Rui on Wednesday, 31 January 2018

In this micro project, my partner and I planned to transport an object from one location to the other, using the third space as the portal for that teleportation. The plan was for me (on the right) to throw a piece of roller coaster snack to Desmond (on the left). I would throw the snack through the “third space” and we got our friend Samantha to throw the snack at Desmond in his location to create the illusion of it passing through.

It is challenging to throw a snack into someone’s mouth under normal circumstances, so throwing it through the “third space”. We decided to rotate the phone around and drop the snack into Desmond’s mouth instead. This worked better and we succeeded after a few attempts. I guess what we could have done better was make the object more visible like choosing a bigger object or pouring a larger amount of snacks through the portal. Another challenge we faced was the lag of the video so the snack might have appeared too slowly or quickly through the portal. Even though we counted to three before I dropped the snack, there is still an evident lag in the journey of the snack.

Ultimately, the snack wasn’t really “transported”, rather, there were was a snack double that appeared on the other side. But this project aimed to recreate that intimacy and illusion of an activity across two locations. The intimacy created by the third space can be seen in how two people are coordinated despite being in different locations.


Micro Project II

In our Instagram poll artwork, the viewers’ role is to participate in the decision making of the outcome of an artwork. Viewers get to vote between 2 options at a time and slowly see the artwork come to life based on what they picked.

To a certain extent, us as primary artists are controlling the outcome of this piece of work. We provide the viewer with 2 artistic options at a time – sun or moon, black or white etc. 

If we were to give the audience total control, we would probably ask them to reply to the insta story post with a suggestion or a sketch element of their own. This way, it isn’t just one person controlling the entire artwork. What we did was less interactive because the only people physically making the artwork and providing the options to choose were us.

According to the article, DIWO means that ‘source’ materials are open to all; to remix, re-edit and redistribute, either within a particular DIWO event or project, or elsewhere. The process is as important as the outcome, forming relationally aware peer enactments.

However, our artwork was still social as people got to have their vote change the outcome of the artwork. Sun or Moon as options for example, split the voters into metaphorical team sun and team moon, even though none of the voters knew each other.

In this case, the artist and the viewer each get the chance to take hold of the same canvas; and see how different people can affect the direction of the work.

A similar project to our exercise is Swarmsketch, an ongoing online canvas that explores the possibilities of distributed design by the masses. Each week it randomly chooses a popular search term which becomes the sketch subject for the week. In this way, the collective is sketching what the collective thought was important each week. A new sketch begins after one week, or after the previous sketch reaches one thousand lines, whichever comes first.

Similar to our microproject, Swarmsketch relies on user response in order to complete an artwork. This open source method of continuing an artwork with different artists creates a challenge and renegotiates the power roles between artists and curators, like Marc mentioned in the article.