Final Hyperessay: La Camera Insabiatta (2017)

Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson is known primarily for her multimedia presentations, she has cast herself in roles as varied as visual artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, electronics whiz, vocalist, and instrumentalist. In 2002, Anderson was appointed the first artist-in-residence of NASA, which inspired her performance piece The End of the Moon. Her performance ranges from simple spoken word performances to elaborate multimedia events. She also has published six books, produced numerous videos, films, radio pieces and original scores for dance and film.

Initially trained in violin and sculpting, Anderson pursued a variety of performance art projects in New York during the 1970s, focusing particularly on language, technology, and visual imagery. She became more widely known outside the art world when her single  O Superman  reached number two on the UK pop charts in 1981.

The project, her first collaboration with Huang, is Puppet Motel in 1995. That’s an interactive CD-ROM, and in this fictional space, there are thirty unique rooms in hotel scene. Anderson infused with stories and music to make readers interact with the mechanism through a cursor.

La Camera Insabiatta

In a space filled with the graffiti by chalks, participants in head-mounted device, holding controllers and sitting at the chair explore and fly within “the other” world in companion with the artist’s indelible voice on audio serves as the storyteller. There are 8 rooms in this virtual world: The Cloud Room features a galaxy of text like spinning nebula; The Anagram Room, the movements of participants would reflect on the move of two heads on the wall, which are talking to them; The Dog Room represents the artist’s deep missing to her dead dog; The Water Room features a surreal scene taking place in a flooded, ceramic-tiled room; The Sound Room, voices of participants talking and singing will be converted into sculptures, and participants with controllers can strike them to listen their own sound or others who attended before; The Dance Room, surrounded by small people, is characterized by the mysterious story to make participants more soaked in; The Writing Room allows words to flow out of physical gestures; And The Tree Room allows participants to fly around an enormous tree with words leafs that are telling several stories.

The aim of this work is the exploration in the memory space where participants are able to fly without physical constraints. In Laurie Anderson’s interview, she said what she does is about losing your body and making an experience that “frees” you to look at any position. That’s also how it works in Virtual Reality, making people released from the subjectivity of body and experiencing the world at any aspect through senses. In my opinion, La Camera Insabiatta is influenced by some of her previous projects, such as Forty-Nine Days In the Bardo and The Waters Reglitterized. In 2005, The Waters Reglitterized, opened at the Sean Kelly Gallery in New York City. This work, created in the process of re-experiencing or re-working Anderson’s dreams while awake, uses the language of dreams to investigate the dream itself. The piece includes drawings, prints, and high-definition video. And, this work took its title from an essay on painting by Henry Miller written for his friend Emil Schnellock in 1949. Miller wrote, “Before falling to sleep last night I ordered my subconscious mind to remember, on waking, the last thought in my head — and it worked.” And for Anderson, dreams are “more than just pictures but portrayals of physical sensations and emotions.” That’s why there are lots of drawings chosen in the work but also her lots of works, which have an almost fluid quality and feature warm, saturated colors. In La Camera Insabiatta, it also emphasizes on the awakening consciousness, but ignores the physical present. And both of these works reproduce the experience that could not happen in the physical world, one is the dream world and the other is the human’s memory world, like the state of dreaming.

The Waters Reglitterized at Sean Kelly Gallery

In La Camera Insabiatta, Anderson makes participants forget the physical self, and fly in the dream or the memory to feel the different statement of life, the death, in the virtual world. When it comes to the topic, the death issue, it’s worthy of discussing about the projection of the personal life experience of artists in their work. During the production of this project, both artists were just experiencing the death of their beloved family. Therefore, they wanted to explore the experience of death with the advanced technology, and combined the religious concept of “Bardo,” which is the period about first 49 days after people’s death, a transitional state between death and rebirth. In this period, these dead people still own their senses and feelings, but without the physical body, and their memory are disappearing gradually. In my view, the other exhibition also has an impact on this work, Forty-Nine Days In the Bardo, opened at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia in 2011, exploring the themes of love and death, the many levels of dreaming, and illusion. The installations include texts as well as drawings, sculptures, projections, and sound are made from materials including mud, foil, iron, chalk, and ashes. Both of two works are inspired by the death of her dog, Lolabelle, an intense discussion on loss as well as the deep spiritual connection between pets and their owners.

Lolabelle’s portray in Forty-Nine Days in the Bardo

Lucid Dreams

Among Anderson’s works, there is the similar concept with Lucid Dreams, a dream during which the dreamer is aware of dreaming. During lucid dreaming, the dreamer may be able to exert some degree of control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment. From the aspect of epistemology introduced by Paul Tholey, there are seven conditions, awareness of the dream state, awareness of the capacity to make decisions, awareness of memory function, awareness of self, awareness of the dream environment, awareness of the meaning of the dream, and awareness of concentration and focus. In La Camera Insabiatta, participants know what they see and heard is not from the real world, just like the state of dreaming, and they are aware of it. In the virtual space, participants can decide what is their next step and how to interact with objects by themselves. And they can “feel” themselves, instead of seeing their own body or any physical present in the virtual world and seek for the personal meaning of this work for themselves, not just following the guidelines to operate the mission. With the help of VR device, participant are more immersed in this virtual world than the sole projection.

Comparison with Osmose (1995)

Forest in Osmose

Besides, I would like to mention Osmose by Char Davies here. They both utilize the techniques of VR to help participants “fly” or “swim” in the virtual world, to “free” themselves form the limits of body. And both of them have different kinds of space in the virtual world, with regard to nature. In Osmose, Davis presents the nature scene, such as forest, cloud, pond and so on, but also code and text about the technological issue. In La Camera Insabiatta, Anderson talks about the nature of the death and also makes use of text as material but on the different purpose, for the representation of memory here. When it comes to the controlling devices, both of them use of a head mounted display, and with the help of hand-held controllers in La Camera Insabiatta; however, Osmose depends on the body’s most essential living act, the breathing, to navigate and to make participants feel themselves, a particular state-of-being within the virtual world. Regarding to visual presentation, the visual aesthetic of Osmose is semi-representational, consisting of semi-transparent textures and flowing particles instead of the hard-edged realism. And in La Camera Insabiatta, it transcends the state of the medium, the abstract sound transferring into the concrete sculpture.

Virtual Space


When it comes to the importance of the techniques of VR, Huang mentioned, VR is a tool that can efficiently and greatly deliver the cogitation, sensation or affection of the creator to the audience, just like so-called “empathy machine” by Chris Milk in his TED talk. In this work, the artists transformed their life experience, facing with the loss and thinking about the meaning of death, into the work to make participants experience the same and real feeling. What’s more, Huang also predicted that VR could influence people’s perception of themselves in the future. For instance, through the eyes of other creatures, the opposite sex or a different cultural background, VR helps people look at themselves from different aspect. Huang considered it’s the next wave of influence on human beings. Because people can release themselves from their physical present or social norms in the real world, and achieve to truly “fly” and “free” physically, mentally and consciously.



After Art of the Networked Practice(2018)

Through attending this online symposium at the first and second day, I would like to pick up some works and views that catch my attention.

Dissolved in Station House Opera in 2014

Dissolved (2014) 

Through the interview with Julian Maynard Smith, the director of Station House Opera, he wants to show that this space is no a theater, although he specializes in performance. He also mentioned that he was interested in architecture recently, so space is important to him. What’s more, he also made a point about “flux,” discussed in the keynote presented by Maria Chatzichristodoulou; “ we need to think about space outside particular rooms, it’s a sort of flux action.” Actually, I cannot fully understand the interpretation of flux from Maria, but introspecting the idea from Smith, I consider that flux is a fluid and endless statement that flows between real and virtual world. And the work “Dissolved” presented in Station House Opera in 2014, he used two-way video link, the idea like Hole in Space and Telematic Dreaming, connecting participants in London and Berlin to interact with others’ images in full-body size in sync. More impressed is the concept of the identity, he said,

“when your face is close to somebody else, it looks like either of you, it’s third character and has its own identity.”

How participants think of themselves in this blended image and how they separated themselves from this image to think of “the other.” I think this is a quite interesting and exciting experience flowing between the subject and the object!

Julian Maynard Smith

Performance- Entanglement

the performance- Entanglement (2018)

When talking about the latency issue in the roundtable discussion, it reversed my view of the latency, which I regarded as a “noise.” The latency is unpredictable, but participants can prepare mentally because it is the feature of this environment that we must accept it and embed it in the performance. The latency could be an element for the performance! In Entanglement, there are seven performers busy keeping an eye on others’ action, following the instruction of the “script,” and paying attention to what happened in the chat room. They were doing something deliberately to create the atmosphere where there is no seasonable or logic arrangement of dialogue and visuals. In the end of discussion, Annie Abrahams concluded,

“without speaking, without viewing, how to connect with others? It’s feeling.”

Actually, my first impression on this performance is blank and meaningless when I just focused on their physical images and sounds. However, when I took a look on the conversation between others’ audience, what they were talking about was atmosphere or their feeling. I started to focus on my own feeling and found out there is a wave in my mind. Sometimes I felt calm, but sometimes I felt nervous. I think participants who expressed their feeling in the chat room also performed in this work. After appreciating and realizing this performance, I consider Abrahams an experimenter instead of a performer, because she mentioned that audience is more important the artists and performers. She makes experiments to realize people and to stimulate people to focus on themselves physically and mentally.

I’d Hide You

I’d Hide You

It is not just an online game, but it’s a life transmission, a game about relation. In the documentary video, the most impressing scene is the runner hiding or taking a break on others’ space like cars. This action symbolizes building the relationship between participants online and people on the street, and it also means participants build trust on strangers in the same city. Although participants are in the online world, they build an authentic connection with people in the real world through the ambassador of runner. I like the idea given by Matt Adams,

“It’s easy to learn, quick to share, but also easy to lose if you don’t concentrate on the game.”

It makes me come up with the point, if people are not building relation, keeping in touch with others or their communities, does it also mean that people might easily disappear or be forgotten in this world? If people don’t concentrate on their life and get together well with others in their society, do they protect themselves in danger? I don’t know whether or not the artists are intent to deliver this idea, but it could lead a different route to explore.

Online Symposium, the networked third space

At the beginning in the first day, when Prof. Sorensen, the Chair in ADM, was making an introduction, some people responded the sound issue in the chat room. It makes me start to think about how important problems can be responded or solved timely by presenters? It’s a technological issue, but I think it’s worthy of discussing this trivial but significant problems. Here is my idea, or more specific, it’s my imagination! In my opinion, the interface of participants can be inserted a button about the technical issue that there is a drop-down list, such as the serious latency or disappearance of sounds’ or images’ problems. If it exceeds to certain amount of participants pressing the same problems, the desktop of the presenters would sound an alarm to disrupt presenters. Although it seems to be impolite to presenters, it can enhance the quality of the communication and collaboration in the third space.

Above this picture, it presents the collaboration in the chat room and really impresses me with the share of intellectual. When I viewed the topic “The promise of internationalism,” it also confused me of the definition of internationalism. It’s difficult for presenters to respond questions through making an oral presentation, but other participants involved in this issue and “co-“created this project (this presentation), just like the core concept of new media art, there is no boundary between senders and receivers, between performers and audience, everyone inside the spectacle is producer. Sometimes, there is more lively, energetic and creative in the chat room, even though text is only mediation available here. And this also could happen in the performance, Entanglement, audience sharing their feeling and idea in the chat room.

“Hope people in the chat room could also create the atmosphere,” said Annie Abrahams.


Before taking this new media history and theory, I consider the use of advanced technology in art work is too deliberate and just for innovation but nothing meaningful. Nevertheless, after the overview of the history and the realization of the significant concept of new media, I think what Steve Dixon, President of LASALLE College of the Arts,  said in the online symposium can represent my view.

“Telematics is a tool to find new relationships between things already exist in,” said Steve Dixon.