Summary of my experience: Earlier, in deciding the placement of the camera, I placed it with careful curation: an area where exposure was limited, and I had complete control over the video frame contents. I anticipated that I would be having viewers, and curated the video contents to hint, rather than explicitly show, what I was doing in real time.
‘While webcams always appear to be casually and innocently positioned, “their field of vision is carefully considered, and behaviour within that field cannot help but anticipate the looming presence of the global viewer.” ‘ – Steve Dixon in “Webcams: The subversion of Surveillance” (2007)
To a certain extent, it was a constrained performance, but at the same time, the contents were not. It was a typical view of what I usually do, banging the keys as I dish out essays after essays. The lines between private and the public have been blurred, as they enter my private space, yet ineffectually through my constructed broadcast.
Another pertinent point which Dixon brought up was rather interesting, that the unrevealed (a la invisible) in fact brings up the visible.
‘Unrevealed offstage action is a standard theatrical narrative device… Similarly, the long periods of time watching empty rooms with no characters within the Jennicam set… presented an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of patterns where, like a Beckett play, like an Eliot stanza, people “come and go”.’ – Steve Dixon in “Webcams: The subversion of Surveillance” (2007)
Through my accidental disappearances in the video – despite it not being intentional nor very much prolonged – along with the restrictive video framing, brought up a second narrative: where did she go, what is she doing now – gone to the toilet or hiding from the camera?
In this broadcast, I seek out young adults to give their viewpoints on social media, in particular Facebook. What better platform to host it other than Facebook Live itself! However, in Singapore, it seems Fb Live still remains a platform which people know about, but do not use as often as other social media platforms (me included).
I thought that these particular incidents were interesting, where fb users actually took advantage of fb live to broadcast less than desired footage, (and henceforth ignoring the viewers as they remain set on ultimately achieving their goal: the incident of the girl who documented her suicide on fb, and sadly, of two journalists shot dead. It was interesting to note that my two interviewees did not know of these incidents.
This week’s video seemed like a continuation of last week’s – but more in the context of a live television show. I continue to maintain: it is difficult to multitask, to look out for feedback from Fb about my online viewers, and to concentrate in the real space with my kind interviewees. It is obvious in the video where I accidentally placed the people out of shot, and changing the orientation of the film. Granted, I could have asked a helper to help me hold the camera, but then, it wouldnt be my very own television show anymore.
Lastly, I would like to thank both interviewees for so kindly being willing to be interviewed.
This photograph is of Hong Kong’s goldfish market, where small packets of fishes are arranged neatly in rows on a wall for sale. Trapped within individual pockets of water, the fishes swim circularly, unable to avoid their unknown fate. As the glitch process intensifies, the helpless creatures swirl and descends; their individual fates gradually sinks into a chaotic mess. This riotous disorder channels mix up the infinite possibilities of the fishes’ destiny, yet speaks of the choice-less fate they have to accept despite being in the world with limitless outcomes.
In Life Sharing(2000), Eva and Franco Mattes, an New York-based artist duo, critiques the landscape of privacy and ownership on the internet. By exposing their personal computer to the world wide network, they reveal their digital identities intentionally, turning it into an artwork. Ironically, they opt to hide their true identities, by providing contradictory information about themselves, accentuated by their obscure domain of http://0100101110101101.org.
In his text Webcams: The subversion of Surveillance, Steve Dixon claims that the digital recording devices are separated into two paradigms: one, surveillance, voyeurism, but also two, openness, sharing and freedom of expression.
“While CCTV surveillance is commonly covert and broadly concerned with policing, the webcam is characterised by a generally opposite impulse towards openness, sharing, and freedom of expression.” – Dixon. S, in Webcams: The subversion of Surveillance (2007)
The Mattes duo forcibly combined both models in Life Sharing, creating their own version of the open, inviting Big Brother.
The term ‘abstract pornography’ nicely summarises the essence of this artwork: a calculated spectacle, it reveals enticingly, yet wantonly. More distinctively, it gives off a pleasurable vibe and allures; why do we watch it? Pleasure gained from its novelty, of voyeuristic exhibition, or of knowing that the viewer have knowledge over the artists? However, it is noteworthy that viewership remains passive, as viewers are unable to edit the files. Ownership by the Mattes duo is somewhat retained, ironically solidifying the notion that the original artist still operates from an authoritative standpoint, despite its resemblance to the Open Souce Community.
A Privatised Exposure File Sharing remains an unorthodox experiment in the artistic landscape, where other artists toil to preserve their Intellectual Property. Instead, the Mattes duo purposefully revealed their art studio, discrediting this policy; privacy is non-existent, and instead a shared trust between viewer and artist is established. On the contrary, as they selectively revealed solely their digital identities – hiding their bodied physical self – they inadvertently impeached a more intimate level of exposure. Private thoughts, and the personal(ised) usage of the computer usually hidden to others are now flaunted in the digital arena.
Summary Life Sharing is undeniably an iconic figure in contending the open source community and its related concerns of privacy and ownership. It reveals what we already know – privacy is no longer a solid, fool-proof concept. Interestingly, like bees to flowers, people are drawn towards connecting with others in real time, perhaps in part of their human nature of desiring friendships, or of transposing real life connection into the digitised world. The gradual loss of connections in the public arena of the digital world has resulted in a more desperate attempt for users to connect with another, be it through friendly or perceived ‘unfriendly’ ways.
“The desire to connect to others in real time may be driven by a response to the ‘loss’ of the public realm” – Dixon. S, in Webcams: The subversion of Surveillance (2007)
This time round it was a more interactive experience, and in contrast with the previous reportage there were many more others in my vicinity. Hence, there was another set of challenge in how to film and angle the cameras – I was conscious that others might not like having the camera pointed at their face hence at some parts of the video, the angles were off.
Having filmed this with a friend by my side, she was able to better point me to areas of interest as I was pretty occupied with looking at what was being filmed; my attention was everywhere. The few people I interviewed were well-mannered and did not mind sharing their views, but they didn’t realise that they were being filmed live. After all, what I did was not something people usually would film.
The interaction was multiplied in this broadcast – with my friend physically beside me, online, and the strangers I interacted with. Despite there not having anyone online watching it while filming this, I knew that later after the broadcast, others will still be able to rewatch it and experience the market at the time I filmed it.
It was however a fresh new experience in getting to introduce the Bedok interchange market to the Facebook population, and as my friend (who stays in the East area) said, ‘Bedok is famous for its food’.
Overview Riot (1999), by Mark Napier, is an alternative Web browser that constructs its pages by merging text, images and working links from recent pages that the Riot user has surfed. The composite then appears on a single page, with overlapping text and imagery in a haphazard arrangement. The browser can accommodate up to a total of three different sites compositions, with a unique composition per browser refresh.
Definitely, Riot fits the definition of glitch, as interpreted by Rosa Menkman as,
…a (actual and/or simulated) break from an expected or conventional flow of information or meaning within (digital) communication systems that results in a perceived accident or error. – Rosa Menkman in The Glitch Moment(um), (2011)
On two different spectrums, Riot deconstructs:
1. visual imagery and text arrangement on the webpage; and
2. the idea of a singular web surfing experience
Shattering Boundaries: Physical and Digital In allowing multiple sites to flow together, Riot forcefully expands the virtual environment – sites are no longer constrained within their physical boundaries of the digital medium. Traditional ideas of ownership, territory and authority, already transgressed by the new form of the web (where a percentage of online content has a shared viewership and authority), is further probed: through Riot, it becomes a public space.
The dismantling of browser arrangement in Riot can be perceived as an error to the everyday user; conversely, this ‘error’ also exposes the lack of control users have on the net. Despite the conviction that users are gradually having greater autonomy on the net, they are ultimately still subject to the set web environment. Only after experiencing the have-not, then do they realise what they are privileged with – ultimately a human condition of not being able to appreciate what they already have. As such, glitches can be used to,
…bring any medium into a critical state of hypertrophy, to (subsequently) criticize its inherent politics – Rosa Menkman in The Glitch Moment(um), (2011)
Initially, the video was named ‘Cat in the hole’, but later renamed to better reflect the video contents. Similarly, in spite of what I thought would happen in the filming as the situation and filming environment was fixed, the footage turned out slightly different from expected and hence the renaming of it.
When broadcasting, there was nary anyone around me, save for the one odd figure who was passing by the area. Despite that, I felt extremely conscious as I dislike posting on social media being a more private person, and that my video had the outreach to the entire Facebook user population. It felt that I had the power and wield to however, make my own voice heard amongst the sea of media.
As it was my second attempt, the first being a video directly filmed before this, the previous video gleaned comments instead of the second one, as it had the first viewer advantage. The few comments mainly commented on the content, basically aww-ing at the cuteness of the cat-objects. However, I opted to post the second video instead as it felt to be more of a reportage.
I disliked the video footage quality as it was pretty grainy thanks to the bad quality camera and weak 4G data connection, but at the same time, it added to the beauty of live recording – the rawness and spontaneity of it.
Overview Grand Theft Avatar (2008) is a live performance by Second Front, hosted in the 3D virtual world Second Life, stimulating a bank robbery of the Lynden Bank to liberate the Lynden dollars held by the bank. The live performance was carried out as part of the “From Cinema to Machinama” panel held physically at the San Francisco Art Institute, and the virtual avatars took on the guise of panel members. Impersonated panel members included new media artists and theorists: Camille Utterback, Char Davis, Howard Reingold and Christiane Paul[i].
After grabbing the loot, the members took a dramatic exit, first through an extravagant scattering of the loot into the air, and finally ending the performance by stimulating the ending of Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, or How I learned to stop worrying and Come the Bomb by riding hydrogen bombs into oblivion, Slim Pickens (aka Rodeo)-style into the sunset[i].
Artificially Expanding Reality Grand Theft Avatar (GTA) is a metaphor on the blinding artificiality of the fabricated world. It is situated away from the physical space, remotely operating within no set boundary – within the third space, where laws of the known world were disturbingly abandoned. It disrupts and questions the known traditional social etiquette and structure, through fragmenting the sense of reality and imbibes disillusionment. The lines between the reality we live in, the reality that we act out and, the reality that we realise gradually becomes blurred. The constructed boundaries of reality are thus expanded,
The third space is a fluid matrix of potentiality and realizable connections to the most far-reaching remoteness. – Randall Packer, The Third Space (2014)
Derision of the Human Presence The group constructs their own alternate ego, the artificial avatar on Second Life, and later, disguising themselves as other personas. Essentially, they erase their own presence digitally and mindfully, as their digital avatars are the sole outcome of their personification on the Second Life platform.
In GTA, Second Front justifies their action with a ludicrous excuse – the mocking liberation of the supposedly suppressed Lynden dollars on the guise of a bank heist, and later, the wanton abandonment of those rescued dollars after escaping the venue. With this, they effectually apply another layer of mockery to the work: the avatars themselves lack a stable existential identity; their ridiculous actions further fuels the hypothesis that in actuality, they do not function as per the known world, but rather, can only exist ephemerally, within the uninhibited constrains of the third space.
References [i] Guertin, Carolyn. Digital Prohibition: Piracy And Authorship In New Media Art. 1st ed., Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd, 2012,.
[ii] Packer R. “The Third Space,” (2014) in Reportage from the Aesthetic Edge
The Pirate Cinema (2012) by Nicolas Maigret is an installation artwork featuring 3 screens, visualising how peer to peer data transfer in real time by using BitTorrent protocols. A collage of top 100 most popular transferred files are played across the 3 screens for a few seconds, including a brief flash of a partial IP address and location. Today, the artwork can be viewed online.
How it was created Built on a data inception software, The Pirate Cinema automatically scans the most viewed torrents. The intercepted data is immediately projected onto the screen, and discarded after. Torrents scanned originates throughout the world.
In recent years, the availability of peer to peer sharing towards millions of internet users has heralded a new form of piracy, inadvertently changing the way how cinema is experienced. By exposing the ‘internal workings of media'[i], Maigret makes visible the limitations of peer to peer sharing with his immersive sensory and audio installation. Concurrently, he also highlights the possibilities of peer to peer sharing for being part of the aesthetic experience.
Relationship with the Third Space Network The Pirate Cinema‘s foundations were built upon the third space, despite itself not being part of the medium, but rather, and extrusion of it. It becomes a visualisation of this abstract space, an amalgamation of the efforts of the collective user network engaged in torrenting (unknowingly). Akin to the 1970s and 1980s video collectives such as Videofreex and TVTV, which attempted to mobilise people to make their own medium rather than being passive consumers of a centrally constructed broadcast programming[i], The Pirate Cinema hosts the ordinary consumer (of networked data) into the role of the changed broadcast programming.
They attempted to democratize the media by facilitating people-to-people communication… activating the production of media around a proliferation of local issues expressed by a range of marginalized communities.
– Randall Packer, author of Third Space Network (2016)
Hence, the marginalised, passive consumers are able to break down the hierarchy in media information corporate structure, even-ing the grounds for communication. In fact, they are altered:
It is a living art, exploiting contemporary forms of digital and physical networks as a mode of open praxis…
– Marc Garett, co-director and co-founder of Internet art collectives and communities in Third Space Network
In fact, its existence as a living art can further contribute to the diversity of the artwork – with its ability to constantly rejuvenating itself based on the whims of the collective community, and free against the rules of the broadcast programming.
Ironically, despite of what it seeks to contravene, The Pirate Cinema‘s delivery emulates the centrally broadcast programming in the top down broadcasting to passive viewers. While its content might be drawn upon from the third space, its narrates its information through a screen – similarly, to passive viewers of the installation. Nevertheless, it remains a pivotal artwork in addressing the abstract realm of the third space, underlining the greater possibilities of the third space as an artistic platform and network.
Cut Piece by Yoko Ono is a performance piece first performed in Japan in 1964. In the piece, Ono sits on the stage wearing a black dress with a pair of scissors, and invited audiences to come up and cut her clothing one at a time. She remains passive, subject to the different reactions of the audience participants. Slowly, as her clothing gets chopped to pieces – almost revealing her chest – Ono holds up the leftover pieces of her bra to protect her modesty.
Indeed a thought-provoking work, that is only realised from the interaction between the artist and the audience participants, Stiles argues that Cut Piece:
‹Cut Piece› entailed a disrobing, a denouement of the reciprocity between exhibitionism and scopic desires, between victim and assailant, between sadist and masochist: and, as a heterosexual herselft, Ono unveiled the gendered relationship of male and female subjects as objects for each other.
– Kristen Stiles, author of Uncorrupted Joy: International Art Actions (1998)
The silent artwork becomes an intimate encounter, between the artist and the audience participants. Parker states it clearly, Cut Piece becomes a
radical critique of the role and treatment of women in society in which collective audience interaction produces a powerful narrative of control, invasion, and exposure.
Not only is the outcome of Cut Piece ‘published instantaneously’ to the local audience, and art no longer subjected within the sole execution of the artist, art becomes an item which is highly collaborative. In the changed environment where the lines between artist and audiences are gradually becoming blurred, art becomes more accessible, heralding a new culture where social etiquette and art forms are altered.
With regards to the later Experimential Café, both works operated on a platform differing from real-time collaboration, but on similar premises. In this case however, despite a digitised medium to allow one to rid physical harm such as the case of the online Café, Ono knowingly took on the risk in her art, further challenging the platforms of art, and the societal act of interacting, and understanding art, while presenting her body as the object for the purpose of art.
[i] Galloway, K. & Rabinowitz, S. “Welcome to Electronic Café International,” (1992) in Packer, R., & Jordan, K. (Eds.). Multimedia : from Wagner to Virtual Reality ([Expanded ed.). New York: Norton, 2002
[ii] Randall Packer (2015). “Collective Narrative“ from the Open Source Studio essay. Just scroll until you find the section called “Collective Narrative.
[iii] PEACE, IMAGINE. “Yoko Ono’S CUT PIECE: From Text To Performance And Back Again By Kevin Concannon”. IMAGINE PEACE. N.p., 2017. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.