Research V: Paula Crutchlow and Helen Jamieson – Make-Shift


A documentation of the networked performance event make-shift devised and brokered by Paula Crutchlow and Helen Varley Jamieson at The Home and the World Summit, Dartingon, Devon and BIARI, Brown University, Providence, R.I, USA.

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Each event is telematically located between two ordinary houses (usually in different countries) and an online performance space1 accessible to anyone with a broadband connection. We (Helen and Paula, one in each house) work with proximal2 and online participants to collaboratively ‘stage’ the work.
– Artists’ Statement

In this day an age, the Internet has become a virtual stage that connects millions of people and fosters interaction between them and collapses the boundaries and limitations that come with geographical location and distance. Now, more than ever before, with the widespread of webcam technology, it opens the possibility of new forms of art as well as new ways to engage in more familiar types of interactions. As the cyberperformance is conducted in real-time, it possesses surreal documentary authenticity and liveness that is central to its appeal. People log into their webcams to see what they’re doing/or what is happening in the space at the present moment; now.

Likeness and actuality are the ontological conjoined-twins of webcam; and this inextricably links the new webcam medium to the liveness and actuality of performance art. Of course, unlike performance art, the webcam is a mediated experience… Webcams essentially purport to be the virtual performance of real life.

– Steve Dixon, Webcams: The Subversion of Surveillance (pg. 443-455), Digital Performance, 2007

It also eliminates the distance between performer and audience and encourages public interaction. The audience is also aware of their power to influence the performance with their dialogue, actions and improvisations which makes the overall performance intimate.

This intimacy enables a sense of temporary community which is also an active negotiation of difference; alongside the socio-political content a space opens up in which audiences can think deeply, discuss, and shift their perceptions about local-global relationships, experiencing a sense of connection which leaves physical and virtual traces.
– Project Abstract, Make-Shift

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I feel that this project sheds light on how society operates. It gives us insight on how social relationships develop – the narrative arc and discursive participation- according to normative convention in relation to the knowledge of being watched in their personal spaces. In short, the awareness of surveillance brings about heightened actions despite it being “a fly on the wall”. In this way, the audience are able to experience the event in a way that would impossible by any other means. A webcam is categorized by having a generally opposite impulse towards openness, sharing as well as freedom of expression. Even if you don’t know someone personally, you feel like you do just because they appear or put their lives online. However, the challenge and the opportunity offered by make-shift, is that no one person can ever see or experience it as a whole.


Research IV: Desktop Theater – Adrienne Jenik


Desktop theatre eliminated distance between performer and audience as performance practices that unfold not in physical or proximal environments but online, in purpose-built platforms or appropriated virtual environments and worlds. Distance is no longer a challenge nor a contributing factor in groups of people being able to create their own art and share it with one another as technology progresses and allows more people than ever before to do so. Technology has made art and theatre more accessible to many – we don’t even have to be at the same place at the same time to enjoy the art piece and performance.

You don’t need to go to a theatre.
You don’t need a ticket or reservations.
All you need to do is watch it on your own screen to be a part of it.

– Randall Packer

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In a sense, the core idea of Adrienne Jenik’s Desktop Theatre piece was to give access to art to whoever has a computer as opposed to those having a ticket or invitation to watch a particular performance. Thus, art is not restricted to the art community and is not taking place in a serious theatre or gallery setting.

The performance itself was quite intense, it was just unbelievably chaotic; as each performer is typing, they’re also talking into a microphone and that was amplified as well as the sound from the six versions of the game all going at the same time. It was all really chaotic but also quite wonderful and absurd.
– Joseph DeLappe

It provides the audience with room for exploration and interaction and ultimately is at the core of OSS; where knowledge and material can be shared and enjoyed by many with limited restrictions on the world wide web. It could be said to be like a sort of “open source theatre” as it breaks the boundaries of geographical location, demographics and many other factors associated with traditional theatre and therefore, brings theatre down to a “personal” and less formal manner fostering interaction between one another as text becomes the integral part of the performance.

– in all of these projects I’d look at these game spaces as a new type of public space. And you can think of this as a kind of online street theatre, or protest. It was very interesting to be having my work questioned and being engaged in these dialogues through emails and through the comments at the end of these various articles and such, and actually deciding then to engage in more text-based dialogue and communication and debate as a result of reactions to my intervention.
– Joseph DeLappe

In traditional theatre, there is dialogue, action and improvisation; these factors contributes to a lack of interaction between performer and audience. Hence, when the tables are turned and the work becomes a digital performance in which the audience are represented by avatars we have little to no control over, they possesses the power plays an integral role in influencing a particular performance. In the new immersive online environment, the keyboard becomes a device to facilitate communication with each other in the performance.

Research III: Global Groove – Nam June Paik


This is a glimpse of a video landscape of tomorrow when you will be able to switch on any TV station on the earth and TV guides will be as fat as the Manhattan telephone book.” – Nam June Paik on Global Groove 1973

Nam June Paik’s introductory statement stands for the tape’s principle and message – global channel changing, a visionary precursor of subsequent developments. Paik displayed his understanding of the significance and power of the television as a broadcast medium, as a device which is able to display electronic moving images and explored those as a tool and means for artistic creation. In a sense Paik seemingly prefigured the Internet! He pushed media culture and made it do something it wasn’t imagined to do; he expressed how media ultimately gives us our understanding of the world – even if it means just sitting in front of your regular ol’ television.

Nam June Paik, Global Groove , 1973

“The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.”
“Time’ has ceased, ‘space’ has vanished. We now live in a global village… a simultaneous happening.”
– Marshall McLuhan, 1962

Global Groove -which essentially is a non-traditional art form- conveys Marshall McLuhan’s theory of a future ‘global village’, which Paik matched with an idea of his own: ‘If we could compile a weekly TV festival made up of music and dance from every county, and distributed it free-of-charge round the world via the proposed common video market, it would have a phenomenal effect on education and entertainment.’

Skin has become inadequate in interfacing with reality.
Technology has become the body’s new membrane of existence.
Nam June Paik

Paik embraced telematic space and appropriated PEPSI commercials from Japanese television in his stylised composition.  The eclectic combination of mass media and avant-garde delighted both art-lovers and ‘normal’ TV-viewers alike with its deliberately fast cut edits and accompanied with catchy Devil with a Blue Dress On audio. In my opinion, this piece addressed the global impact of telecommunications. These days, we’re able to stream videos from any part of the world and enjoy it on our own personal devices – Paik was spot on when he mentioned that it would be the video landscape of tomorrow! This piece embraces the act of open source that would encompass video and media-sharing. In the time when the piece was created, the idea was considered revolutionary and now, decades down the road his vision is a reality.

With new technology, came new ways of responding to it through artistic media. Paik’s commentary on our media-saturated world leads to a trend towards the CCTV in the early 1990s through the use of webcams promoted surveillance and also voyeurism. People now have easy access to the internet and most electronic devices we purchase today are fitted with a built-in webcam that provide a sense of documentary realism. What differentiates the webcam from the televisual like Global Groove is that webcam footages are often in real time, not pre-recorded or edited, stage-managed or involve complex camera tricks; in contrast to film, television documentaries and current live reality TV shows. The webcam provides a mediated user experience and the desire to connect to others in real time may be driven by the response of a “loss” of a public realm. We can relate the liveness and actuality of the webcam to the qualities of performance art.

An experiment to research the webcam as an art medium reflected that a persons awareness of the surveillance sometimes heightened their actions, while at others, they felt themselves “dissolved in the ubiquitous surveillance which now erases the boundaries between private and public.”

Webcams function to deliver aesthetic experiences, interactions and contributions between performer and audience via the Internet which is in the centre of OSS. With that, I end my post with an appropriate quote by Nam June Paik himself relating to virtual bodies in space;

Our life is half natural and half technological. Half-and-half is good.
You cannot deny that high-tech is progress.
So we must have a strong human element to keep modesty and natural life.
Nam June Paik

Research II: Marina Abramovic – Imponderabilia


In June of 1977, Marina Abramovic performed a work entitled Imponderabilia with her partner Ulay. In a video recording of the work, Abramovic described Imponderabilia this way: “We are standing naked in the main entrance of the Museum, facing each other. The public entering the Museum have to pass sideways through the small space between us. Each person passing has to choose which one of us to face.”

This performance allows audiences to participate in the event in a performative and improvisatory manner, as “actors” themselves: neither as “spectators”, as passive viewers, nor as “agents”, acting in a preconceived or instrumental way. The audiences reactions were not rehearsed and thus what we see is an instantaneous and authentic peek into human behavior and how gender roles plays an important part in society.

It is interesting to note that more participants chose to face Marina as opposed to Ulay. I’m not certain if facing one or the other is a telling sign of one’s psyche, but it is apparent that Marina appears to be less intimidating in stature. It could also be noted that most participants split-second decision was to follow the direction of the person who passed immediately before them whichever the gender may be.

When visitors become aware that physical contact is inevitable; and have to choose to face one and turn their back against the other, they at least chose to refrain from making eye contact. We can contrast these conscious real life decisions with the ones made in the remake of Imponderabilia on a multiuser virtual environment, Second Life reenacted by Eva and Franco Mattes.

The only modification made in this reenactment is that the door frame they stood in did not lead into a museum; in fact, it didn’t lead anywhere at allAs seen in the remake, some participants on Second Life removed their clothing prior to stepping in between Eva and Franco. The performance raises questions that has the potential to highlight humanity through digitalised bodies or avatars. Because the performance weaves the technological environment and the body together, we can see that the performance “emerges as a site for examination and experimentation of the interconnected relationships between bodies and technologies”.

When online, people are not accountable for their actions and their actions bear little to no repercussions. They would dare and have the courage to react in such a manner only when semi-anonymous. I feel people can truly be someone totally different online than they are in real life, hence, I doubt the people who stripped would actually react that way when faced with such a situation. Modern technology has given us the ability to defy the physical bounds of identity and manipulate it in any way we choose without the demands of real world accountability.

As electric media proliferate, whole societies at a time become discarnate, detached from mere bodily or physical “reality” and relieved of any allegiance to or a sense of responsibility for it.
– Steve Dixon, Virtual Bodies, 2007

In conclusion, there is an increasing acceptance in society that the “self” can exist apart from the “body” in online activities as fragments – not only are selves separate from the body, they are not limited and determined by the mind’s entertainment in the body. Potentially, the “body” can simultaneously exist in two realities internally and externally experiencing and being experienced. Thus, body is a mere instrument in our happy immersion in cyberspace; the very idea of a mind and body split.

Research I: Yoko Ono – Cut Piece


It is a general term that the audience is co-present in a performance. The performer shares the same space, the same time and the same air with the present members of the audience. The relationship exists in any case, and, either as artist or as audience, audience brings their own interpretation to the artwork.

“Audiences are ignored because many see the primacy of meaning and
pleasure in the artwork as residing in a supposed unmediated understanding
of the specific work or in the artist’s intention.”

– Nick Zangwill

People are not fixed, there’s nothing that they’re meant to think. The audience as fully integral part of art and performance adds complexity not many artists want to work with. But not Yoko Ono, she challenges and involves the audience, in her joint relationship between herself as the performer and her audience who are the driving force of the performance. The audience supports her and that act becomes the artwork in Cut Piece, 1964. In Cut Piece, Yoko Ono made particular effort to engage with the audience directly and aimed to focus on the object of artistic production as means to and a platform for what can be considered direct action offered to the spectator.

As seen in the video above, the audience is invited to cut her clothes.The seemingly impassive Yoko Ono sat on a stage as an audience undressed her with a pair of scissors. This action is aimed at the participant’s experience of the self via relations with others. In these first performances by Yoko Ono, she sat kneeling on the concert hall stage, wearing her best suit of clothing, with a pair of scissors placed on the floor in front of her. Members of the audience were invited to approach the stage, one at a time, and cut a bit of her clothes off – which they were allowed to keep. As she had no control over what the audience could or are capable of doing, the performance piece made one of the players rather than the director. She strives to destroy these prescribed boundaries of relations and encourage the audience to subscribe to new roles of performer, participator and collaborator rather than just being a passive spectator.

This piece explored trust. Yoko Ono once said that “at Carnegie Hall, it [Cut Piece] seemed to draw violence out of the audience, like a poison. It is a frightening piece to perform. Very tense, but I wanted to show that we have to trust each other. If I’m going to say that, I have to do it myself. I have to trust people myself.”

Cut Piece, Yoko Ono (1964) Source.

While relationships between performers and their audiences seem obvious throughout the history of art–think about any singer, poet, or stage actor performing in front of a live crowd and how the crowd’s reaction can in turn affect the artist – it is the advancement of the importance of the interactivity between artist and audience where process is as much a part of the work as is the product itself. It fully reaches beyond a single person’s perspective and consciousness, and explores the dialectic of who we are as an individual and as a public body.

Yoko Ono’s long dedication to collective activism can be seen in the participatory nature of many of her art works. Without interaction with others these works would be incomplete. They are a collaboration with gallery visitors and they symbolise what positive effects can be achieved when total strangers work together. It is a multiplication of connections and disconnections that reframe the relation between bodies, the world they live in and
the way in which they are ‘equipped’ to adapt to it.

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“If you don’t create tension in the work, you’re not really looking at the qualities of the medium…
or the qualities of art.”

– Article reading, Welcome to the ‘Electronic Cafe International’


In 1988, Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz established Electronic Café International (ECI), a performance space and real café housed in the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. They aimed to create an integration of cultures and communities, the arts, audience; and the integration of art forms. Thus, they sought out to define the basic human requirements to facilitate a “creative conversation” between people even if they did not speak the same language. They strived to create a performance place with no geographical boundaries in which we can communicate with other artists by conducting real-time “chats” via computer. The work also attempts to collapse the relationship between art and audience – aiming to create a democratic and fully integrated notion of spectatorship and culture sharing.

Open Source as Culture/Culture as Open Source


In recent years, the term “open source” is increasingly used a a synonym for “free”. We often hear of “open source software”, “open source music”, “open source movies” etc. Such extension of the label “open source” has proved to be beneficial for the open source community as it makes it easier to imagine the success of such efforts. The attempts to provision other kinds of cultural goods under the same terms have had
some success in the recent years, with Wikipedia as the most notable example. This example shows everyday people how open source manages to recapture and revitalise communications and cultural processes around them.

“The open-source model of peer production, sharing, revision, and peer review has distilled and labeled the most successful creative habits into a political movement.”

Although many open source programmes and softwares cast the free culture and its use in a positive light, there are still copyright infringement concerns associated with it. We cannot ignore that with so much content available for free, there would be individuals misappropriating content; this is largely a legal concern and therefore affects the mainstream acceptance of the open source model.