“Hole in Space” (1980) by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz resembles what we call the video chat now when implemented at that time. It went for 3 days at the walkways of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (New York City), and the broadway department store located in the open air Shopping Center in Century City (Los Angeles). It was a totally fresh and surprising event since their was nothing mentioned about it or explaining it and only people who had actually passed by those places would chance up this. They could now see, hear and speak with each other across a life-sized television images of the people from the two places. They could not see themselves but they could see what was happening in the other part of the city. It unconsciously served to close the distance between the both cities and people could interact as if the other city was right there literally in front of them. This allowed for discovery of new people, rendezvous to be set up and even allowed long lost separated loved ones to see each other again.

Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz have worked on various pioneering communication projects. This particular installation was funded by The Broadway Department Store, grant from National Endowment for the Arts and numerous companies. In 1989 Galloway and Rabinowitz founded Communication Access For Everyone (C.A.F.E).

What was interesting was how the audience reacted this sudden opportunity. Like always, people were clearly confused and wondering about what is this that is put in front of them since it came out from nowhere and they had never experienced anything similar.  Even now, its the same for the people in our century now. We still get confused and uncertain when suddenly plunked into a new situation with no instructions or whatsoever. Conversations then started as the viewers realizes that they were talking with people, who were placed in this same confusing plight just from a different part of the city. Considering the technology at that time, this was indeed a wonder and unexpected for everyone. Word spread quickly about this amazing communication platform and more people came to experience it.

A man and a women having a casually and flirty interaction about the bottle across the screen

As seen in the screen capture above, the two individuals even progressed to maybe starting a romance just over the screen. It is at this moment that you realise that the distance between these two groups of people had actually been dissolved, gone. Poof into the air, like as if it never existed. It also served to show that actually we’re all actually not that different from each other. Of course we have our differences, but we also share so many hidden similarities just waiting to be uncovered. We can connect with one another easily when putting aside the discriminations and prejudices and just presented as how we are at that time. There is nowhere to hide “yourself” or “enough information to pin a judgement” on the other party since it was something that just throws out into the open, exposed but also free of all strings.

“The absence of the threat of physical harm makes people braver”

So true this statement is. Perhaps its because you aren’t really there so people tend to do things they won’t do on a daily basis with people that are right beside them in flesh. For example, at one instants during the video, there was also a excited woman gleefully talking with the projected people from the other city, whom she had not seen for some time. She was blowing kisses, getting so emotional she even bowed down and burst into tears. It was interesting to see how people whom are strangers to each other, play, talk and interact in the various ways as if they had knew each other for ages. Also it is also interesting to note that all those people she got so emotional over where the pedestrians that she were to pass by often in reality, I doubt they would even have the chance to develop a relationship much less a so “deeply bonded” one as seen in the video.

“Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz showed that rich human communication was possible over a high speed link”

It is fascinating to see, that in this day and age, such methods of instant communication to the rest of the world was regarded as impossible in the past. Compared now, such technology and opportunities are so easily available to us to the extent some are even starting to take it for granted. Now, instant communication has proved to be a double edged sword where it can strengthen/build relationships or even break them.

Collective Narratives

“We wanted to explore the aesthetics and sense of presence in a shared performance/multimedia environment, where people don’t leave their indigenous environments. That way people from varied creative and cultural backgrounds could help create a new environment in which they would collaborate on an international scale.”

Hole in Space itself is an example of a collective narrative. In this project, people from a whole diversity of cultures, backgrounds and lifestyles came together through the screens provided and they interacted with each other in a way that was totally pure, raw and unscripted. It was a in the moment kind of thing. Hence, this allowed for a rich diversity of personalities, characteristics, stories to be mixed together beautifully into as one.

Resources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSMVtE1QjaU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyIJJr6Ldg8
http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/hole-in-space/
http://www.ecafe.com/museum/history/ksoverview2.html
http://18thstreet.org/public-programs/collaboration-labs/kit-galloway-sherrie-rabinowitz-electronic-cafe-international/
https://iphiahenry.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/hole-in-space-1980-installation-by-kit-galloway-and-sherrie-rabinowitz/