Research Critique: Kidnap(1998) & Blast Theory

An interactive media art, Kidnap, was represented in 1998 led by Matt Adams in Blast Theory. It explored the social and cultural phenomenon through the application of innovative technology, live performance, media, dramaturgical structure and game in the fluid environment, combining real, virtual and fictional experience. In the official introduction of Kidnap, it highlights the ideas of control and consent, the media, theatre, surveillance and lottery culture in this performance, or called the event.

Control and consent are related to the political issue, about the power or authority. It asked “winners of kidnapped” for giving up control themselves and asked for approval to snatch them in a symbiotic risky way. In the article ‘How to kidnap your audience,’ politics is infused in our behavior, and how we relate to someone who asks us directions is a political act, through that type of inter-relationship, Adams said. Although he revealed some people described their work as apolitical, I agree with Adams’ view from the broad definition. When I take a look on the definition of politics in the dictionary, one of meanings is the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government. In my opinion, politics is not just control over a physical government, it also could dominate other people’s minds or behaviors, just what kidnap presented.

And in this event, it utilized the digital broadcasting where audience could appreciate the performance or “watch the news” through broadcast, and the interactive media, where people could have an access to communicate with kidnapped directly, but it’s pitiful not to find the document recording the dialogue between the audience and the victims. That’s interesting that besides people are attracted by the idea of being plucked from daily life and having every responsibility taken away from them for 48 hours, they also had a desire to be surveilled. I guess people may be eager to grab others’ attention, but may reassess themselves through this experience and I want to cite an article written in Independent here,

For that, I turned to Roger Plant, who has enthusiastically registered to be kidnapped. “I have been to a number of Blast Theory’s performances, and they are good at making you rethink suppositions and re-examine yourself.”

As Plato said, ‘Know thyself.’

one of winners

The other element that inspired me is “theatre,” which is the first passion on for Adams. In the article ‘How to kidnap your audience’ the author mentioned, audience are given strict guidelines in terms of how they can engage with it. It is a new point for me! Although the work put the audience in the center to make improvised behaviors, it is necessary to have strict and delicate arrangement for the happenings if we want to trigger real feelings and it must be like a “real” event. And “game” is also a new element that was never told about in the previous work we discussed. I never think about the game as a form of media art, a means of understanding and participating more easily for audience as well as a part representation of social and political dialogue. I think the game here has a strong connection to the idea of immersiveness, an easy way for people to swim in the world  that combines reality with virtuality, or an access to stimulating a strong sentiment resort to the strict arrangement of the game.

Paul Sermon and his work “Telematic Dreaming”(1992)

Paul Sermon is dedicated in pushing the boundary of interactive telematic installations which emphasizes the sense of users’ experience. I think that the core idea of Paul’s works inherits the concept of the “composite-image space,” discussed in “Welcome to ‘Electronic Cafe International ‘ ” written by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, and originated from the prototype of the electronic cafe in 1984.

Paul Sermon

“Composite-image space mixed live images from remote places and presented the mix at each location so performers could see themselves on the same screen with their partners.”—“Welcome to ‘Electronic Cafe International ‘ “

This  idea is ubiquitous in Paul’s installations and easily seen in his “Telematic Dreaming.” This project takes place between two beds from different rooms which could be thousands of miles away from each other. Performers in each room can see the high-resolution projected image of others from the other room. In this kind of experience, the performers exchange their tactile senses by replacing their hands with their eyes. And I would like to quote the similar view from “Welcome to ‘Electronic Cafe International.’ ”

“In designing such spaces, we look not only at their qualities and aesthetics, but how people interact when they are disembodied and their image is their “ambassador.” “


I consider that ambassador(or called as telepresent) of the physical presence is a key element in the telematic installations and how to make the personal experience immersive in its own avatar depends on the techniques of technology, the intensity of interactivity and the materials that are picked up to present the meanings. In  “Telematic Dreaming,”  it presents high-resolution projected image within the ISDN digital telephone network, making the ambassador vivid. Besides, performers can interact and “touch” the ambassador of others in real-time. What’s more, I think it’s astute that choosing the beds as a spectacle because the symbol of the bed is relaxing and intimate, and performers can easily enter this field, a surreal but intimate space. The spectacle mixed with computer graphics and other images projected in this environment blurs the line between the real world and the virtual reality experience. Therefore, I think this is the reason why “Telematic Dreaming”  is one of eminent telematic interactive projects.


Research Critique: Ant Farm and Media Burn(1975)

Ant Farm

Ant Farm was an avant-garde application of architecture, graphic arts, performance, environmental design practice and other aspects of hyper-futurism, founded in San Francisco in 1968 and ended in 1978 by Chip Lord and Doug Michel.The works made by Ant Farm made a big progress among previous works mentioned in the class is that it made good use of the dissemination of the media, especially the mass media, the icon culture at that time, television, to inform and influence more people than before.

During studying the ideas of Ant Farm, “hippie” is considered one of core concepts for Ant Farm. Browsing the interpretation in Wikipedia, hippie is a member of a counterculture, originally a youth movement that began in the United States during the mid-1960s. And the celebration “the summer of love” brought hippie to the life of teenagers in San Francisco. The beliefs of hippies are joy, nonviolence, to free themselves from societal restrictions, to find new meaning in life, to question authority. And one of the significant movements of them is utopian socialism to form communes to live as far outside of the established system. It seems interesting that Chip Lord said at the conference, “the difference between hippie and Ant Farm in 1960s is new technology.” But I think most importantly is both of them made good use of mass media. In the article The root of the 1960s communal revival’ written by Timothy Miller,

“The rural hippie communes were media attention-grabbers, full of photo opportunities, wild anecdotes, and the weirdest-looking people most Americans had even seen. Press coverage was massive from about 1969 through 1972.”

Nomadic Experiments: Ant Farm Inflatables

It is obvious that Ant Farm is influenced by hippie counterculture greatly when talking about its effort to redefine the way we see, heard and believe in daily life, such as cultural icons and the concept or structure of architecture always presented in works. What’s more, Ant Farm also develops its characteristics by utilizing the ironic humor, focusing on an awareness of the media impact on people’s view and urging the introspection of American kitsch culture.

Besides, Ant Farm is also influenced by the trend of “underground” like underground newspaper. It appeals to “underground architecture” that works against the existence that materials use in works are inflatable or movable and opposition to the Brutalism.

Media Burn

Media Burn was displayed on July 4, 1975 in San Francisco and Ant Farm termed it “ultimate media event.” The main part of this event is a “Phantom Dream Car,” a reconstructed Cadillac car was driven through a wall of burning TV sets. It presented the collision of two American prominent cultural symbols in 1960s: automobile and television. And the drivers inside the car were dressed as astronauts, I suppose that the character of astronauts and the image of car symbolize the futuristic, a powerful vision in the future world that people can be liberated from the control of the cultural production at that time.

Besides, I think of the arrangement introducing an independent speech by artist-president representing as Johnny F. Kennedy on July 4 as a savvy means, because it made good use of the news spot which is also condemned in this event on public, “the monopoly of mass media”, television, which shapes the world we see and think. The gimmick of the date, American Independent day and the character of President, Johnny F. Kennedy, who is first elected on television and also dead in front of his citizens through television easily grabbed the eyes of the public and the mass media. In this speech, it appealed to the public to reflect on the impact of mass media in our daily life in this public performance as well as through the television and encouraged people not to be controlled by the information that the mass media fed and to put their foot through the television screen.

Artist-President and astronauts

It impresses me that just at the beginning period of the population of television, artists started to ponder over the influence of the centralized thought delivered from the mass media, because the aspect it chose or the interpretation it made of every event could greatly shape or distort the picture or the thought of the event in audience’s mind. Back to the previous topic we discussed in the class, the position of artists in the new media field is obvious in Media Burn that they go outside the inherent way of thinking and own a sensitive awareness of our daily life, and most importantly, they take actions to arouse everyone’s awareness.

“It’s a visual manifesto of the early alternative video movement, an emblem of an oppositional and irreverent stance against the political and cultural imperatives promoted by television, and the passivity of TV viewing.”–recorded in the article


Research Critique: Videoplace(1970) & the idea of immersion

The Background of Myron Krueger’s Work

Videoplace is Myron Kruwger’s main work in 1970s. The movements of the participant recorded on video were analyzed and transferred to the silhouette representations of the users in the virtual reality environment. Through the use of the colored silhouettes, participants can see their actions on screen. The silhouette of participants can touch the objects on screen while interacting with each other. What’s more, participants can interact with others in the connected room on screen.

The Device used in Videoplace

It was based on his previous work, Glowflow, Metaplay and Psychic Space, which focus on the quality of interaction. The first work, Glowflow, is a darkened room with tubes of light, sensing the participants’ footsteps. But this work lacks of the dialogue between man and machine, audience cannot be aware of the response from the environment. The second work, Metaplay, empathizes the interaction between participants and the environment. The artist from the other place can draw following the hand movement of the participant in the other room. The third work, Psychic Space, adds the responsive sound and also creates the dialogue between the participant and the computer that the movement of the participant can trigger the difference responses of the computer.

The Discrepancy from Others’ Interactive Works

“Man-machine interaction is usually limited to a seated man poking at a machine with his fingers or perhaps waving a wand over a data tablet. Seven years ago, I was dissatisfied with such a restricted dialogue and embarked on research exploring more interesting ways for men and machines to relate.”—Myron Kruwger

Myron Kruwger

Kruwger’s idea with Videoplace is the creation of virtual reality that surrounds the users, and responds to their movements and actions, without being encumbered by the use of goggles or gloves.

The concept of Myron Krueger’s interactive environment is without wearable devices to interact with objects or other participants on screen. But is it a viable way to immerse participants in the virtual reality compare to the help of head-mounted display or the use of goggles or gloves?

In ‘Virtual Environment’ written by Scott Fisher,

a truly informative picture, in addition to merely being an informational surrogate, would duplicate the physicality of confronting the real scene that is meant to represent.”

I think Kruwger’s works lack of the aspect of 3-dimension space and audio, and the sense of touch. According to the interpretation of the virtual environment in, there are several elements to increase the immersiveness of the experience, continuity of surroundings, conformance of human vision, freedom of movement, physical movement, physical feedback, narrative engagement, and 3D audio. In Myron Krueger’s works, due to the reduction of the aid of the head-mounded display and data gloves, it has difficulties with presenting the sense of space and triggering the physical interaction with other objects or participants.

I think that is the reason why immersing the virtual environment with wearable devices is the mainstream nowadays because people can be more satisfied with the multi-sensory experience compare to Kruwger’s idea that participants are being liberated from a seat or the gloves, but constricted in the 2D experience. But Kruwger attempted to figure out the way to liberate the constriction of the wearable devices still expands the another path of immersive experience.


‘Responsive Environment’:

Myron Krueger Biography:


Research Critique: Soundings(1968) & the idea of Cybernetics

Norbert Wiener defined “Cybernetics” as a mechanism dealing with communication and control among people, nature and machines. To be more specific, this control is the feedback that depends on the actual performance rather than the expected and still one.

Soundings, whose catalysts, defining as triggering changes in the spectator’s behaviors by Roy Scott, are the silvered panel at the outer layer of plexiglass and the electronic device. The former can reflect viewers’ own image and the latter can trigger the change of images, depending on the sound and the voice that viewers make.

Soundings in Artsy.

I’m so pitiful that I have difficulties with finding out the video of this artwork, because I consider that only the dynamics of the artwork can present the value of modern arts, such as “dialogue,” among artists, audience and the artwork. As Roy Scott said in “Behaviourist Art and the Cybernetic Vision,”

“the modern artist is primarily motivated to initiate a dialogue to enrich the artistic experience with feedback from the spectator’s response.”

Robert Rauschenberg in Wikipedia.

When I search for MoMA document, where was its first public show, records that “Rauschenberg insisted that viewers become his collaborators, and without them the work doesn’t exist.” His idea corresponds to Roy Scott’s feedback, “a function of an output(observer response) is to act as an input variable, and leads to more variety in the output(observer experience).” Interpreting the essay written by Roy Scott and the artwork “Soundings,” I consider that the core idea of Cybernetics and Modern Art is feedback, representing interactivity, uncertainty, instant communication, which is the real departure from the traditional art, which draws a line between artists and audience, and which is static and unchangeable.

My Understanding of Multimedia

How collective intelligence will change corporate leadership:

In my view, I regard multimedia as a pure medium that combines sound, images carrying nothing meaningful. However, after I read the content in the overture part, it surprised me that the meaning of multimedia is not just a tool, but also a carrier that loads the creativity and intelligence of human beings, and a breakthrough that changes the inherent thinking routes and decentralizes the authority to all participants who just are involved in. And what’s more, like the concept of Pierre Levy for “ Collective Intelligence”, it shapes the aesthetics and social implication at that time.


Considering that how long is the history of multimedia, I thought the appearance of multimedia is in 1993, when World Wide Web was seen in public. But it just represents the form of multimedia, I always forget the core concepts of multimedia, integration and interactivity, thriving for creativity and intelligence. I never think of the notion that people dating from 15000 B.C. had an idea that created an environment that integrated all forms of media. Or it just might be over-interpreted, because people at that time just appealed to a surrounding, which can helped people immerse themselves in the world that were totally different from the real world. At this point, I consider that people at any time are all seeking for this experience , the same goal but different route.

Art who comprehends her with whom can one consult concerning this great goddess:

Although my major in undergraduate study is classical music performance, I never thought of opera as a form of multimedia. In essence, people studying classical music usually would not admit that any form of artworks could be regarded as “art”, which is eternal, beautiful, and sometimes divine, which is not easily be produced according to that era. After reading essays from different aspects, I contemplate if I take the cultural society and the production at this generation into consideration, it can make sense that art that collaborates with technology may also be viewed as the real art now.


Actually, I never thought that the history of new media has the tight connection to the art. In my intuitive opinion, I thought that the beginning of new media is the incoming of Internet, and never considered that in 1950s, the concept of hyperlink, prefigured by Vannevar Bush, has its prolong and supreme impact on the development of new media, accompanied by hypertext and hypermedia. Continuously, new media also creates the new paths or forms of art presented or interpreted, because artworks made by new media is decentralized and open, people who immerse themselves in can be the author of the work and the work can be reflective to their mind. Before the invention of technology, these perspectives cannot be imaginable.


My history of multimedia

The history of multimedia begins with the prehistoric caves in Southern France

Prehistoric Cave Paintings of Horses, popular Archaeology,