Research Critique: Life Sharing

For Life Sharing we turned our private lives into a public artwork – Eva and Franco Mattes

Life Sharing (2000-03) is a work by Eva and Franco Mattes where they opened the contents of their computers to the internet for people to share, look at and download anything and everything including the system itself.


Life sharing is about exploring ideas of public vs private and also transparency and peer to peer sharing. Created before social media was a thing, Life Sharing focuses on sharing. Unlike social media where sharing reinforces a projection (honest or not) of the user’s self, life sharing is about transparency where everything on their personal computer is accessible including personal emails.

I found this disparity intriguing, how life sharing could be open despite removal of the artists themselves (names were also altered on emails). Their first space selves were private whereas their third space self was laid bare for all to see.


Research Critique: Collapse of PAL

“I could only understand it as irrational and void of meaning, and so I walked away from it, confused and titillated”- Rosa Menkman.

This is also how I also felt after watching Rosa Menkman’s Collapse of PAL (2012). Confused I took to the internet to find out what PAL even was. Turns out I have been unknowingly using it for years while watching the display on my family’s TV screen. The ‘collapse’ must also mean that this medium is no longer used and yet I had not heard of TVs changing systems unlike how I heard about Telecom (a Telecommunications company in NZ) getting rid of their GSM network. After some further internet delving I found out that the DVB that replace PAL is called Freeview. This Freeview was marketed as a New Zealand free to air system which was like a free SKY TV. I had neither realised that this was a worldwide phenomenon or made the connection between it and the Collapse of PAL. I had unknowingly experienced the collapse of PAL something that I had unknowingly been using.

“This death sentence, although executed in silence, was a brutally violent act that left PAL disregarded and obsolete” – Rosa Menkman.

I realised that I had been regarding PAL as obsolete and irrelevant and that to understand Rosa Menkman’s work I had to change my perspective.

After Watching again I thought that perhaps Rosa saw herself as the Angel of history. She is forced to watch as constant new developments are made to technology to make them ‘better’ creating a pile of obsolete old technology which has become worthless.

“Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.”- Walter Benjamin

She utilises a pile of dated and obsolete technology to create this work, the images are made with materials such as the analog PAL signal from a NES and a broken digital photo camera. For the sound materials such as feedback, morsecode and an old Casio keyboard are used. The glitch highlights and celebrates the imperfections of the media, finding beauty in what others would call broken, wrong and failed which breaks away from progress’s race to perfection.

Paul Klee, angelus novus, 1920
Paul Klee, angelus novus, 1920

For me I found it interesting to celebrate old technology rather than disregard it as useless. It has become fashionable to connect with old things, old retro gaming consoles are in demand and a lot of people like wearing vintage clothing. It creates a sense of nostalgia that people like. But rather than just liking things from ‘the good old days’, Rosa takes these things and utilises their failures, their flaws, the very reason they were superseded in the first pace to create something new and unique.

I also felt that the ending to the performance was particularly interesting, it crossed the divide between the physical space and the third space. The painter broke up the images on the screens with black paint. This disruption gained cheers from the adult audience members but upset the children who tried to stop him.


Research Critique: The Big Kiss

“It is the all-at-once concept of the abstract expressionists, in which everything is everywhere and the canvas became a total field of possibilities. The third space is a fluid matrix of potentiality and realizable connections to the most far-reaching remoteness.”- Randall Packer

Annie Abrahams explores the possibilities of the third space in her work The Big Kiss (2007).

In this piece she kisses another person within the third space despite their physical separation using webcams. To the viewer it feels like they have a meaningful connection and It makes me wonder if it feels the same to them. Does she fell so absorbed in the third space that seeing herself kissing someone on the screen collapses their physical distance and make it mentally like she’s kissing them?

“Machine mediated kissing in a performance = drawing with your tongue = taking pleasure, while constructing an image = a way to be superaware of the other = never totally abandoning yourself = ???????? = not at all like real kissing, it is better! This might be a female point of view.” – Annie Abrahams

She says it make her superaware of the other, perhaps it is like when you take away the physicality of touch you become more connected in the mind, like connecting mind-mind rather than mind-touch then touch-mind. Or perhaps it’s like how if you lose your sight your other senses will become heightened.

In 2009 she repeated this performance however this time it was done in a home environment rather than a studio. Even though they are further distanced from each other, the intimate and relaxed scene of the homes increases feeling of  intimacy and connection between the performers. It feels a lot more voyeuristic, like you are intruding on a personal moment rather than an art piece. The fact that these are live performances would have made me uncomfortable if I was there, as if by watching the screen I would also have been included in kissing within the third space.

This also makes me consider whether or not this counts as kissing and by further extension whether or not a relationship over the internet is real if you have never met the person in the first space. Coming from my perspective I would say it is, in fact one of my best friends actually dated a guy from america that she had met online in a MMORPG she had already been friends with this guy for a year or two before they started dating. Every night they would skype each other or play games online together, it was another year and a half before they actually met in person.

“energy and emotion are generated from the tension and interaction of
male and female, natural and artificial, human and machine”- Roy Ascott
This piece also reminded me if the website smule which allows users to sing a ‘duet’ with the singer of the song, I found it interesting how the users interacted with the recorded piece as if the artist was really live performing a webcam duet with them, they talk as if friends or in other cases scream in a fangirl/boy moment as if meeting in real life.

Research Critique: The Pirate Cinema

“In the context of omnipresent telecommunications surveillance, “The Pirate Cinema” makes the hidden activity and geography of Peer-to-Peer file sharing visible.”- The Pirate Cinema

The pirate cinema is created by an automated system that downloads continually the most popular torrents and shows snippets of these video files which are being shared peer-to-peer throughout the world from The Pirate Bay on a screen.


In the Installation it allows you to sit and watch the data flows in real time. It make what was previously invisible, visible and allows the viewer to almost become a part of the flow. To sit and watch the dubiously legal sharing of files and see where they come from and where they go to and what is being sent, is like a kind of surveillance, spying on other people’s activity without them knowing.

When I watched the Online Version I ended up watching it for at least 10 minutes. I felt it was so fascinating and it put me in a trance like state, reminding me of switching between tumblr, facebook, emails, and youtube to find something new or updated, or perhaps flicking through the channels on a TV. It was also interesting to see how it is so global, people from the US sharing to Serbia without them even knowing where exactly it’s going. It also made me want to download a torrent and see if I could get my IP address to come up.

“The geographical aspect of the project is key in activating the imagination, but also in developing a critical view of consumption areas by file. A text indicating both the geographical origin of the peer who issued this fragment, and the geographical destination of the peer who received it is overlaid on each video excerpt.” – Nicolas Maigret

I felt this quote was particularly interesting as it talks about collapsing space. Like at the time of viewing you are watching data which is both where you are viewing it, the country of origin and the country it’s going to at the same time.

The fusion of geographically dispersed artists and audiences is realized through broadcasted projects that join local viewers and online audiences in what we refer to as a shared, electronic “third space.”- Randall Packer

She also talks about the legality of the piece and how it has been created in a way which still protects the torrenters from being compromised through encryption and the short time frame the data is actually on the computers (they are immediately discarded). She also says how the piece itself is so global that it is hard to prosecute.


Research Critique: A Hole in Space

Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz’s A Hole in Space is hailed as the mother of all video chats. They connected a live audience from Los Angeles to a live audience in New York through life sized screens which feed through to each other using satellites.


I found this fascinating as it shows how the virtual space allows users to transcend human limits of space and time as

each screen became a window onto the other location. -Packer, R., & Jordan, K. (Eds.)

The viewers and participants interacted with one another seemingly like passing by one another on the street despite being 3000 miles away. After the initial discovery people went to phone booths to call friends and family telling them to meet on the other side ( Media also spread the word and by the next day organised meet ups between families who hadn’t seen each other in over 20 years, marriage proposals were made and strangers acted spontaneously with one another as

a virtual space creates social situations without traditional rules of ettiquate…virtual space diminishes our fears of interaction.- Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz (Packer, R., & Jordan, K. (Eds.))


The collaborative nature of this piece is also very interesting as the artists acted wholly as facilitators rather than performers. They created a social space where people were left to themselves to interact and communicate becoming the performers. The piece could only have been achieved through the collaboration between artist and performer/pedestrian and between the pedestrians themselves through their spontaneous interaction and organised meet ups.

We wanted to create new kinds of community commons to break away from the tyranny of the broadcast and traditional media and we just wanted to create a social space and turn it on and then let people acculturate it by owning it with their imaginations and if they could then occupy this new space and begin to see how they could use it then they would become, in their imaginations, the architects of a new future, they might begin to define what they want as an information environment rather than be consumers of it. -Kit Galloway (


Open Source System

How might the open source system of sharing and collective narrative be a creative inspiration and approach for artists? 

The open source system is a

quasi-utopian form of peer production that inspires transparency, collaboration, collective processes, non-proprietary methods of production and distribution, and a commitment to the creative process as a social exchange”.- Randall Packer

It challenges the current dominant capitalist society by allowing artists to experiment, innovate, appropriate and collaborate within something like a reservoir of creative genius. Despite this idealism (or maybe because of it) projects like Linux have expanded and thrived, becoming a rival to commercial giants, Microsoft and Apple. This could only be possible through the collaboration of many people who all held the same ideas of working together to improve society and rebel against the monopoly of products and information.

Personally, I find collaborative modes of working to be extremely rewarding, allowing me to draw on other people’s expertise, ideas and experience to shape a project in a way that wouldn’t have been possible by myself. With the internet we are able to connect more people with more people. It is a space in which collaborative ways of working thrive and your work can reach a larger audience much faster without worrying about censorship and professional gallery curation. However in a capitalist society, it is easy for your work to be exploited without copyrights and intellectual property, but with them the piece is no longer open and collaborative. Creative Commons is a compromise between open source and commercialization. It allows the contributor to establish how their work can be used and stipulate whether it can be used for free even for commercial practices or not. This allows the artist to express creative freedom without supporting commercialization of art and share their own work to inspire others’.