Annie Abraham’s Angry Women is a piece hosted on webcam. The webcam acts as a facilitator for the women’s anger. The purpose of this artwork is to make a stand on female anger through angry discussions on the internet. Five performances were carried out with a full womans panel. Another had only men and the other two mixed with female. They also carried out private webcam meetings to reflect on and analyse the performance.
“We all have one subject, in fact. Mine is communication and the difficulty to communicate at all. Everything I do is around that.”
– Annie Abrahams
By using anger as a premise for this performance, remote communication that is through webcam becomes a method of disentanglement for the grievances of the participants.
“In the beginning I had difficulties accepting these videoarchives because I saw how much they depended on our hazardous trying to interact, to be present in this universe of alone togetherness. Besides I didn’t like my own presence. As in other web performances I felt trapped and revealed myself not as I would have liked to be revealed.”
– Annie Abrahams
Annie believes that communicating in a grid works on the concept of “No Exit”. Having to be present in that small digital space, being isolated in togetherness gives her the sense of entrapment. I find this quite interesting because the act of talking through grievance in this artwork seems like a liberating concept.
“She clearly understands the inherent issues of bandwidth, distance, separation, and even alienation that occurs online. In fact, in many ways she embraces these issues and incorporates them into the vocabulary of her work.”
– Randall Packer on Annie Abrahams
The idea of alienation occurring as a result of bandwidth, disruption when communicating through the third space, is one that is prevalent yet easily overlooked by many – myself included. Through this concept of disruption and bandwidth, we may be able to explore the disentanglement of our real world problems within our curated utopia.
Ant Farm, an avant garde video arts group founded in 1968 by Chip Lord and Doug Hall, is now a highly acknowledged collective of creatives that embrace the art of destruction (according to Patricia Mellencamp in her Journal of Film and Video).
One of the collective’s destructive artworks titled Media Burn (1975) is a performance that touches on the representative nature of the media. The artwork consists of crashing a “Phantom Dream Car” (a modified convertible) through a pyramid of televisions.
Doug Hall plays John F. Kennedy in this piece, whereby he touched on the flaws of media in society: ‘What has gone wrong with America is not a random visitation of fate. It is the result of forces that have assumed control of the American system…These forces are: militarism, monopoly, and the mass media…Mass media monopolies control people by their control of information… And who can deny that we are nation addicted to television and the constant flow of media? And not a few of us are frustrated by this addiction. Now I ask you, my fellow Americans: Haven’t you ever wanted to put your foot through your television screen?’
This is relevant to the notions of the hypodermic needle theory in the mass media, a controversial topic left helpless for decades. The ability of the media to inject ideas in to the viewer’s head, its ability to make ideas portrayed seem like the truth is one concept that is played out in this piece.
Chip Lord mentioned in an interview with Randall Packer that the televised image of John F. Kennedy as the first televised tragedy was one of impact and epiphany, since it was one of the first televised image of the bad side of reality. This inspired his work and heavy sentiments towards this side of the media. The destruction of the televisions is acts as a kind of anti-art, a protest. The destruction of a concept can be seen as a rebellious statement, and could perhaps be one of the defining characteristics in such a piece. It is a powerful way to show the anti motion against the lack of media literacy.
The Third Space has an ability to collapse space and time through a “fragmented and augmented perception of reality”, according to Randall Packer.
We are connected to each other within this space, despite factors of reality that may hinder this connection. An example of such a network is Grand Theft Avatar — a live interactive performance art by Second Front.
In this piece, the participants of Second Front take up pseudo identities and deploy to rob a bank to free the virtual currency of “Linden Dollars”.
The third space represents the fusion of the physical (first space) and the remote (second space) into a third space that can be inhabited by remote users simultaneously or asynchronously.
Grand Theft Avatar deploys a simultaneous use of the third space, collapsing the notions of reality through allowing such a scene to take place virtually/in a metaphysical space while the subjects are controlled live by actual beings.
It showcases how participants would interact with other participants in real life, however these behaviours are only actualised in a virtual space. This phenomenon rids the scenario of cause and consequence, creating a hole in this staged reality.
The third space is perhaps akin to the fourth dimension, a hyperspace where spatial trajectories have no boundaries, where temporal relations are amorphous, where wormholes reveal pathways that are instantaneous and geographically dispersed.
The nature of Grand Theft Auto is also said to allow it’s players to experience thrill through reckless behaviours that harbour serious consequences in real life.
It could then be said that in this third space, actual beings can experience a different and impossible version of reality through this media. This quality brings a certain superior level of flexibility to the third space.