Final Project: Idle

IDLE – an interactive performance

My team, consisting of Kai, Si Qi, Desmond and I, planned to create an interactive performance set completely in IKEA. The idea stemmed from the location’s versatility, and the fact that there were many showrooms in the building that we could use to our advantage to blur the lines between reality and fiction. We would create a storyline with the different rooms and enhance the realness of it with Instagram live.

We created Instagram accounts for our performance and posted these two pictures to brief our participants on the rules and how to play before they participated.


We wanted to include the culture of doing-it-with-others in our performance. That is why we chose the act of saving lives as the goal for our players.

We also wanted to blur the lines between artist and audience and with our participatory performers, the audience would be performers too.

Idle was designed to be in the format of a game, where players had control over what the victims do.

The format of our performance and the medium we used gave room for error and glitches, whether technical or organic.


These glitches could function as disadvantages or advantages to the performance, creating that unexpected element when we decide how to respond to them.


We referenced Blast Theory as our main artist inspiration. I’d Hide you was one of their online games that we drew insight from.

The main idea for I’d Hide you was to embrace the thrill of being in a whole new world through the third space where they had control over their destinies.

The game consists of players guiding 3 hosts on the ground to get a shot of each other on camera. Each host would have a camera that live streamed everything they saw and heard. The objective of the game for the players was to guid host that they choose toward other hosts.

Similar to I’d Hide You, IDLE gets online participants to jump from different livestreams to guide a person who is physically in the space. IDLE aims to immerse its audience in a world that we created in the third space and for them to create/uncover events within that world.

To start off, we took on a room each, as shown below, using four IKEA showrooms to carry out our performance in.

Kai, Si Qi and I went down to IKEA three times to location recce and plan the clues for our performance. We had ice cream and meatballs every time.

These are the four rooms we chose:

After settling the rooms we could use, we held a test run with our friends using one bedroom and figured out some issues. Here is the breakdown:

Here is a video of our test, password: behindthescenes.

A week later, after confirming our players and working out what we had to change, we had our actual run with all four rooms.

Here is the trailer we created after the run:

There were quite a few points that we observed about the actual run.

First, we noticed there were three main types of participants.

We also experienced a few challenges that we learned to embrace as glitches.

On the actual day, we acted spontaneously and decided to burn the kitchen down in order to add to our story. It would give reason to the 30 minute time limit to solve the puzzle and save the victims.

Firstly, Kai who was in the study room, lost connection halfway and had to end the live video. Using this mishap as another dimension to our story, we told Kai to let the participants know that she blacked out because of the smoke.

Secondly, we experienced an extreme lag during the insta story which led to some miscommunication between audience and artist. However, this gave an extra point of contact for the audience which caused them to interact more closely with each other.

Thirdly, there were some customers that entered the showroom and disrupted the gameplay. However, this served to remind the audience and us that this was not an actual room and further blurred the lines between reality and fiction.

Fourth, getting confirmed participants was a challenge for us as we were still finding people on the day itself to participate. Since we did not have any incentives, not many people were willing to commit to the performance. This helped us create a more close knit community within our participants.

Lastly, we had players who did not comply or bother to read the rules, which led to a lot of confusion in the gameplay. This too bonded both artist and audience.

On hindsight, some things we thought we could improve were making the clues interconnected between rooms to create a more complex and intriguing gameplay.

We could also have concised the instruction list into one and added incentives to gather more people to participate in the performance.

Overall, it was a special experience to be able to organise a participatory performance in public and create something out of it. I think the unexpectedness of the whole performance brought about a thrilling and exciting element to it. I think we were all surprised at how both we and the audience responded to the glitches and unexpected events that popped up. It was interesting to see how everything turned out in the end and how little things could cause drastic improvements in how the game was played out. It opened my mind to the embracing of the glitch and how it can, more often than not, be a blessing in disguise.


Research Critique III

For micro project five, the art of destruction, my team (Fred, Teri, Jia Ying and me) destroyed a bunch of styrofoam blocks with a heat gun.

Rosa Menkman states in The Glitch Studies Manifesto:

As an artist, I find catharsis in disintegration, ruptures and cracks. I manipulate, bend and break any medium towards the point where it becomes something new. This is what I call glitch art.” 

Likewise in our project, we embrace discarded and incomplete pieces of art and created something new through the act of destruction. There were different stages of the destruction and at each stage we observed the change in the blocks and how textures were formed on the surface of the block.

Styrofoam blocks before the destruction
1st stage of destruction
2nd stage of destruction

It was a satisfying experience to watch the foam break down into nothing. We heated the foam until  we ended up with a few coral like scraps. There was some beauty in what the discarded blocks which had become a whole new piece of work.

Final outcome of destruction

With the embracing of the glitch, even discards can be considered art. In an interview with Randall Packer and Jon Cates, they also discussed the embracing of imperfections and the idea of “dirty new media”.

“They are not sterile, they’re imperfect, they are not clean, because they exist in the world, which is also imperfect. And so, I do believe that dirty new media as a way of life and as an approach to art making is a way of foregrounding these facts, these realities, of our lived experiences, and acknowledging how situated we are with all of these systems, and artifacts.” – Jon Cates

I guess “dirty new media” is a way to stay true and raw. It strips away all gimmicks and focuses on a single subject matter to drive a point home.

Take for example, Media Burn (1975) by Ant Farm, who staged an explosive collision of two of America’s most potent cultural symbols: the automobile and television. In this alternative Bicentennial celebration, a reconstructed 1959 El Dorado Cadillac convertible was driven through a wall of burning TV sets. The work addressed the pervasive presence of television in everyday life, affronting the same media they had invited to cover the event.

With works like these, we raise the question of “what really is art?”. In this new age of acceptance and open mindedness, glitch art is appropriate when exploring challenging and bold themes like these. Glitch art then becomes more of a method of artistic expression, especially when the artist has a message to convey.


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 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.