After announcing her intentions to run as an MP last week, this week’s broadcast explored the next step of the campaign narrative: conducting promotional activities.
This involved a quick meet-the-people session and guerrilla marketing tactics such as sticking posters, stickers and a surprise in public spaces.
Accompanied by an entourage of assistants and photographers, MPs (Members of Parliament) usually go from table to table at hawker centres and briefly shake hands with citizens during election season. I wanted to parody this common MP behaviour in this week’s broadcast. I shook hands with some citizens and handed out flyers, encouraging them to vote for me in the supposed upcoming election.
I realise there are some limitations which we as social broadcasters have to be mindful of. For example, it was difficult to hold the camera, flyers and stickers at the same time, while speaking and shaking hands with citizens. We also need to manage camera angles and the light direction. It’s a bit unfortunate that subtle interactions such as my handshakes with the citizens were not caught within the frame.
Furthermore, in line with Roxy’s position as a millennial politician, this week’s concept also experimented with guerrilla marketing and unconventional campaign promotion. In parallel with the Facebook live broadcasts, I experimented with other forms of internet culture and social networking by posting additional bits of (satirical) content like GIFs during the week. Not only does this help sustain interest in the project, it also helps flesh out Roxy as a character and show snippets of her unique and unorthodox campaign activities.
(This is a still of the GIF as I couldn’t embed it. Here’s the full post) The banner shows MP Chan Chun Sing who came to speak at NTU this week.
(This is a still of the GIF. Here’s the full post)
Another common MP behaviour is dancing at grassroots events. The dancing style is rather reserved, and MPs appear to be dancing out of obligation.
Surrounding the theme of unconventional marketing, this week’s broadcast was done as 2 mini-broadcasts.
Here’s part 1:
Beautifying public spaces with my face and first impromptu meet-the-ppl session. You're welcome NTU 🙂
Recently, one of the largest news topics in Singapore has been the 30% hike in water prices. Water prices have not increased in the past 17 years, but will do so this July.
Apologies for the poor audio quality! The area was very windy, and I only realised it post-broadcast. As some of my questions can’t be heard clearly, here they are:
Q: Do you know about the recent 30% increase in water prices?
Q: What have you and your family been doing to save water?
Q: The government has just announced a bathe-less campaign to help people to conserve water. They will be providing residents with a government-issued deodorant which can be collected at community centres. Will you be collecting your government-issued deodorant?
Q: The tagline for this new campaign is ‘One People, One Nation, One Scent’. Do you think this is effective? (This is a pun on a national slogan ‘One People, One Nation, One Singapore’)
Some Post-broadcast Thoughts
Although the interviewees were uncertain and slightly taken aback by the fake news, they responded to the questions sincerely and thoughtfully. They were really nice about it and perhaps this was due to their awareness of being filmed.
This week’s broadcast has made me more aware of the limitations of a phone camera when broadcasting. I’ll also have to project my voice more in the future, especially when the camera is further away!
Please click here for part 1 of my final project 🙂
Some Post-broadcast Thoughts
For the first instalment of campaign activities, Roxy decided to conduct some on-the-ground research and hear first hand from the people about qualities they expect from aspiring Members of Parliament (MPs). She also asked them about their concerns and how she could address them once she was elected.
I incorporated frequent behaviour of influencers such as requesting brand sponsorship from Din Tai Fung (due to the resemblance of The Hive building to Dim Sum steamers), showing followers their outfit of the day (#OOTD) and describing it as ‘minimalist’ (a very popular tag), and asking followers to comment what they think.
I approached 3 different groups of students and received very different responses. I found it interesting how even though my project employs persona and parody, the varied responses are rather reflective of local attitude to politics, such as being indifferent, neutral or involved.
I asked questions such as “Do you have anything to say to the citizens watching live?” to connect the first space public with the third space online audience. This helped reinforced the liveness of the situation for both audiences, with some viewers commenting about the interviewees.
I was turned away by the second group of citizens I tried to speak to. This humanises Roxy, who can seem totally self-absorbed and in her own world (she thinks the Deputy Prime Minister is her friend, calling him Tharman casually). More importantly, this rejection emphasises the liveness of the experience through the unplanned. It also heightens the authenticity of Roxy the persona as Prof. Craig and Tissa from UMBC have summed up really well in their comments on last week’s post (see screenshots below). In addition, the online audience reacts to these unexpected happenings in real time by commenting.
While I enjoy how these mistakes and rejections reinforce the ‘liveness’, I do think I could be more prepared when people say “no” in the future. For the next 2 broadcasts, I will prepare some recovery strategies to have a smoother broadcast.
To be honest, these broadcasts can be very daunting. Approaching Singaporeans with a camera and a loaded subject nearing exam season may not be ideal. However, I feel encouraged by the spontaneous reactions of some interviewees, our interactions, and the online comments. As a ‘host’ of the broadcast, Roxy’s aim is not to direct the event, but rather to create a comfortable and engaging space which will evolve with the unique contributions of both online and ‘IRL’ audiences. Despite the mistakes, this is the reality of live broadcasting — its unfiltered, unexpected and inherently social.
I took quite a while deliberating which was the most accessible position (for audience and public) to take in these social broadcasts. Although playing the role of a newly elected MP would have a wealth of resources to parody, it would be too unbelievable and break the illusion. As I will be broadcasting from the university, playing the role of a young person would make interactions more comfortable and maintain a ‘peer-to-peer’ feeling.
It has been difficult weaving together the behaviours of both politicians and influencers as ultimately, their language and behaviour are very different. The former is expected to be formal and official, with their actions reflecting the larger government and party. On the other hand, the latter is expected to be highly individual and friendly. However, other than the use of social media, they do have commonalities such as having influence / power, and acts of persuasion. Both influencers and politicians try to convince people; be it to believe in them or buy a product.
This series of broadcasts aims to serve as a commentary and satire on the behaviour of local politicians. It will parody their ways of rallying, connecting, and empathising with the people they lead and govern.
It will do so from the perspective of a social media influencer, a product of contemporary internet culture. Like politicians, influencers’ actions and words also have influence over many people.
The broadcasts will be hosted by an up and coming social media influencer looking to spread her influence and move onto greater things. Where better place to start than to be an MP (Member of Parliament)? She has decided to venture into local politics to spread her influence and gain a larger following, and perhaps even give back to the community.
To promote herself and her campaign, she has decided to ‘vlog’ her campaign activities ‘live’. This allows her to connect with her followers and fellow citizens, while documenting her movements leading up to the election.
Persona & Costume
Name: Roxy Tan Mi Mi
I decided that her name needed to be something unusual yet common. It follows a typical Singaporean Chinese name structure: with an English first name + Chinese family name + Chinese name.
The name ‘Roxy’ is seldom seen in Singapore. Whether the name was given or assumed, Roxy Tan Mi Mi would concur that, like celebrities, politician names should also be eye-catching.
On the other hand, ‘Tan Mi Mi’ is a common albeit slightly cartoonish name that one may come across in a primary school Chinese language textbook. This makes her more like the (stereo)typical Singaporean, especially in the last name ‘Tan’ which is the ‘Smith’ of Singapore.
She is running as an independent. She will wear a white collared shirt and skirt (the PAP’s trademark style) or colours of the Singapore flag (red top and white bottom, crescent moon and stars optional).
On Broadcast Style
The live broadcast will usually take on a hand held ‘vlogging’ (video blog) style. It will look intentionally unofficial and casual.
I will occasionally use a ‘mockumentary style’ i.e. someone else filming, or me talking to the cameraman. The image above shows actress Michelle Chong as Lulu on the local mock news programme ‘The Noose’. The persona often makes mistakes such as speaking in Mandarin during filming and is instructed to use English by the producers. This awareness of the camera affirms the live context.
The Game Plan
**The broadcasts sequence and content has been updated. I have left the old segments as strikethroughs instead of deleting them. Although the plan has changed, they are still useful as a personal process log that I can refer to in the future**
Every broadcast will have a mini-premise as well as interaction with the public and online audience. The broadcasts are progressive and sequential, mirroring the campaign activities of aspiring MPs.
In between broadcasts, I intend to post some pictures and content on social media to sustain audience interest. These posts will be related to Roxy’s campaign activities e.g. collecting questions from citizens which she will address in the press conference.
Broadcast 1: Announcing her Candidacy & Listening to the People
For the first broadcast, Roxy will announce her intentions to become an MP to her followers through Facebook Live. She will also go around and ask citizens pertinent questions such as:
“What are you looking for in an MP?”, “What qualities should an MP have?”, “Do you have any concerns that you would like the government to address?”, “As a young adult, what challenges do you have that the government can help you with?”
This will lay the foundation for the next two broadcasts. The events and citizen comments will influence the second broadcast.
Broadcast 2: Canvassing & Rallying the People
For the second broadcast, after hearing the voices of the people, Roxy will be meeting citizens and try to convince them to vote for her. She will put up posters on the school notice boards and hand out stickers and flyers to potential voters. She may start addressing some citizen concerns that she received from citizens in the previous week.
Broadcast 2: Hat trick
This broadcast will concentrate more on showing Roxy’s behaviour as an influencer and how it applies to her perspective of politics.
“Recently my popularity has been increasing and it’s all thanks to you guys that I can spread my influence. I wouldn’t be where I am without you guys, my fans. Some of you may be worried that this move to politics may take me away from my high quality Youtube, Facebook and instagram content. Fear not, I’ll still be posting my regular fashion and DIY videos. In fact let’s do an OOTD right now. OOTD stands for outfit of the day. Today I’m wearing all white with just a dash of red. This is called an accent colour. #fashionadvice.”
“What? My hat says New York…? Nothing a quick DIY can’t fix! (Sticks a Singapore flag over the New york). Problem solved. Now let’s go meet the citizens!”
Questions to ask the first space public:
Starting question: “What are you looking for in an MP candidate?”
“Will you vote for me to be your MP?” If no, “why not?”
“How old are you?” (voting age test). “Hi, are you Singaporean?” (citizenship test) “We future MPs are very busy, as much as I love children and foreign talents, time is votes!”
Ending question: “That’s a great choice, citizen, you won’t regret it! Could you wear this to show your support?” 🙂
Broadcast 3: Press conference
For the final instalment, Roxy will address the press for the first time in her candidacy and hold an official press conference.
It will be held during the final class. Everyone in class will play the role of a reporter and become part of the mainstream media, asking questions regarding campaign promises etc. I will respond to both the live press questions as well as the online netizen questions from the comment section.
Reservations & Concerns
I was struggling with the purpose of my broadcasts and whether it crossed the line between being a performer and public nuisance.
This week’s live broadcast was made in the style of Jennicam (1997). Like live webcam or surveillance footage, the camera was static and unacknowledged, creating a sense of observation and even voyeurism.
I realised that my and my brother’s rooms are mirror images in terms of the layout and furniture. However, we are total opposites and our private living spaces suggest very different inhabitants.
I set up the surveillance camera in the hallway at home; its field of vision (aka the viewer’s field of vision) was framed between these
2 ‘reflected’ rooms, creating a real life ‘split screen’ effect. In addition, save for the narrow dividing wall, the webcam window creates the illusion of us being in the same space, working in a shared study.
“When Ringley was not visible “the set” was ever-present; there to be read as one reads an advertisement — signifiers everywhere, like a Jacques Tati still of a sleepy village evoking a particular mood and era, everything reeking of time and a version of normality.” — Steve Dixon, “Webcams: The Subversion of Surveillance” in ‘Digital Performance’ (2007)
In reviewing the broadcast, I see a likeness to theatre sets. The
identical harsh fluorescent lighting serves almost as a spotlight to these ‘stages’. We perform the everyday in these sets, be it reading, playing piano offstage or typing on our laptops. The ‘reflection’ also creates momentary temporal confusion: are we actors in the same set but from different scenes of the play?
It is surprisingly difficult to show mundane moments that have so far been kept thoroughly private within the walls of my home. Perhaps more so than being interviewed or addressing the camera, these everyday private moments where I am at ease are more revealing. Furthermore, because we live in an age of constant stimulation (the Internet has an abundance of stimulating and gratifying content), despite understanding the value in works like Jennicam, I can’t help but feel a residual tinge of creator’s guilt for letting viewers spend time watching something as ordinary as me in my PJs.
This week I decided to explore another persona: a zealous and enthusiastic rookie reporter who has her first assignment as a youth correspondent at NTU. I appropriated terms and vernacular that we often hear in news programmes such as announcing the current local time and moving between site and studio.
The video in the link is actually the second broadcast of the day. In the first broadcast, I was standing in an open walkway and approached people coming down the stairs and from the buildings behind. I realised that location matters in inviting participation as the people who were walking were less likely to stop and talk to me.
‘Programme viewers’ watching the live broadcast also commented on how the youth did not seem keen on being interviewed. After 3 unsuccessful attempts at engaging an interview, I maintained the context of a live programme and informed our viewers that we were unsuccessful and would try again in a few moments.
A few minutes later I tried a second broadcast but at an open area with tables. Since they were already seated, it was harder to refuse and thus easier to engage participants into the broadcast. To maintain continuity (for viewers who had seen the earlier broadcast) and to emphasise the ‘liveness’ of our mock news programme, I acknowledged the earlier difficulties in the conclusion.
JenniCam was a website which broadcasted the daily life of the eponymous Jennifer Ringley in her apartment using webcams. Every 15 minutes, viewers would see a snapshot of current happenings in Ringley’s apartment. The massively popular ’24/7′ site ran from 1996 to 2003, garnering millions of hits daily. Although Ringley has since gone off the internet grid, JenniCam is hailed as a pioneering internet performance project and phenomenon which sparked debates on privacy, surveillance, authenticity and exhibition.
Webcams: From Windows 95 to Physical Window
The webcam’s single camera static view distinguishes it from the finished, multi-camera style of television shows or the personal style of handheld video recordings. In JenniCam, the webcams showed Ringley’s apartment as it was for most of the day: empty as she left for work. The default absence intensifies the human presence, lending the images an almost theatric quality as Ringley (or her cats) entered the ‘set’. Described by Dixon as “digital theater”[i], in this way, JenniCam organically played with balance, contrast and anticipation, generating interest on a global scale.
“… webcam as a technology that above all provides a digital window into another real time and space, thereby conjoining the actual and the virtual.” — Steve Dixon, “Webcams: The Subversion of Surveillance” in ‘Digital Performance’ (2007)
Following Dixon’s analogy, JenniCam was plainly a window where Ringley did what everyone does — laundry, shower, sleep, sex, TV. Each image revealed the next episode in the narrative of real life.
The Appeal of Authenticity and Mundanity
“It was its serene unpretentious banality, its innocent and tedious ordinariness, which left JenniCam standing apart and which made it the idiosyncratically effective theatrical event it became…” — Steve Dixon, “Webcams: The Subversion of Surveillance” in ‘Digital Performance’ (2007)
JenniCam had a resonating normalness and mundanity that media outlets attempt to create today. Its appeal lies in the authenticity of the individual and daily life where itwas run by an (initially) unknown individual instead of a corporation or institution. Ringley also refused advertisements so the site remained as a simple window without imposing anything onto the viewer.
Furthermore, JenniCam did not separate the private and public spheres, baring both the mundane and intimate, as it was, to a global audience. Is it ironic that although technology has greatly improved since JenniCam’s days of low resolution interval images, and we can share snippets of life on-the-go, many online posts are now filtered, glamourised, and possibly less authentic?
I was slightly nervous during the broadcast, not unlike the feeling of going up on stage. The ‘live’ medium initially creates a sense of performance and self-consciousness but that will likely disappear after getting used to the medium. I was surprised and really felt the immediacy of the medium when my friends commented and reacted during my live broadcast.
This was my second time using Facebook Live, the first was a few days prior at my friend’s birthday party. In comparison with my second broadcast, the first came out more as a comedic personal home-video filled with chatter and giggles. I’ve realised that being a reporter is challenging as it requires us to be aware of our environment and the events unfolding before us. I find that it’s also slightly different from capturing personal memories. It can be personal but I do feel compelled to offer something to the audience; be it something interesting, humorous, informative or insightful. What do you guys think?
In his classic dystopian novel, George Orwell presented a grim vision of 1984 with total surveillance, oppression and the tyranny of technology. Good Morning, Mr. Orwell (1984) is a refutation of this vision and instead shows the positive reality of 1984 where new media artistic collaboration between artists, musicians and dancers in a networked third space can bridge the chasm between different locations and cultures. The work was an hour long, cross-country performance televised live on New Year’s Day.
“[Video collectives during the 1970s and 1980s] attempted to democratize the media by facilitating people-to-people communication, altering the themes and aesthetics of commercial television.” — Randall Packer, “The Third Space Network” (2016)
Similarly, Paik — a pioneer and visionary of video art — used video effects to create a new aesthetic, and challenged viewer perceptions of the commonplace television and its potential as an artistic medium. Some segments of the performance distorted temporal progression and spatial limitations by uniting asynchronous elements into the same plane.
For example, in Merce Cunningham’s segment, delayed footage of the dance was underlaid, creating an illusion of dancing with himself and being in two ‘time frames’ simultaneously. The reenactment of TV Cello by Charlotte Moorman also distorts space when we see the host George Plimpton appearing in both our television screens and in the TV Cello at the same time, forming a new composite image.
Furthermore, Paik’s work was an ambitious collaborative project and arguably an early form of the ‘Do-It-With-Others’ approach with its “collective organization”[i] of artists from “geographically dispersed locations and situations”[i]. It enabled cross-cultural interaction and brought various artistic visions together in a single third space, which was then broadcasted live around the world. The technical difficulties faced during broadcast would become part of the work, lending it a sense of immediacy and equality as viewer’s watch the work unfold at the same time as the artists.