Her Death

Tania of the digital world is set to escape from the second space! She manages to squirm her way out (literally) into the real world, where she realises the sheer pointlessness of living. She struggles internally, whether to stay or return – but later voluntarily returns to the digital world by erasing her own presence in the first space.

The project consists of 3 separate acts, with each act unfolding the life cycle of digitised-Tania (DT)’s presence in the real space: the awakening, to birth and finally, death.

Act I: The Awakening
There were two segments to Act I.

Act I: The Awakening (First peek out)

Screenshot of part 1/2 of Act I

Act I: The Awakening

Act I | The Awakening (First peek out)// Where am I? Could I get out from this space?

Posted by Tania Tay on Wednesday, 29 March 2017

She awakes; kickstarting the entire series, DT finally gets a ‘speaking’ voice and is tempted by the real world. With her newfound ability, she seeks for help to escape her situation. However, the odds are against her – the environment echoes not what she says but an empty, continuous white noise, her only window threatens to veil her words visually as it glitches, and an unknown force is erasing her words as she types them.

Her desperate screams remain silent, safe for one – who remains unhelpful and misunderstood about her predicament.

Initially planned to run for a few hours to advertise and kickstart the series, it was scaled back in duration to create a stronger, concentrated punch for viewers instead. In this broadcast, the inclusion of any visitor feedback is exceptionally powerful – in creating a collective sense of fear, or a shared social space/experience.

I would understand if the resultant user feedback was not as desired, for there certainly was a monotony of content and visual disruption, which made the piece harder to consume. However, these characteristics are inseparable from DT, who after all is a creature from the second digital space.

Act I: The Awakening (Bubbling unhappiness)

Screenshot of part 2/2 of Act I

Act I: The bubbling unhappiness

Act I | The Awakening (Bubbling Unhappiness)// I'm leaving this space very, very soon! Just hear me come!

Posted by Tania Tay on Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Her unhappiness about her situation gradually boils over, she is now more desperate to escape. However, competition for screen time is more intense, as the screen switches between numerous other tabs.

Filming part 2/2 of Act I was unintended; however, class feedback of incorporating switching between different tabs ended up perfect to break part 1/2’s monotony. The stakes have since increased, and there is a hint of blurring between worlds as the webcam capturing real footage of Tania in the real world flickers occasionally, and of DT vowing to escape. Part 2/2 was filmed in as part of a continuation and bridge between part 1/2 and Act II.

Act II: The Birth

Screenshot of Act II: The Birth

Act II: The Birth

Posted by Tania Tay on Thursday, 6 April 2017

DT finally manages to escape! She enters the real world, explores her surroundings, and is amazed by the differences between her preconceived notion of items virtually and now seeing it in the first space. Charmed by the temptations of the world, she finds herself drawn to the water – where she cleanses herself in a water purification ritual.

With her introduction to the first world now proper, she gets consumed by a sudden existential dread: so, this was it? She found herself lacking a proper direction on what to do next, and tries asking for help. However, she receives no reply, upon which she helplessly returns to the second world temporarily.

Performance-wise, Act II adopted a more mellowed, deliberate overtone where actions preceded over the spoken language. DT is silent, for she has never articulated words before – hence the written text in an attempt to communicate. Unfortunately, the piece received no feedback from the audience in realtime. I did consider approaching passers-by while performing, but reasoned that online interaction would be a more powerful and suitable tool interacting with this digital creature.

Act III: The Death

Screenshot of Act II: The Death

Act III: The DeathShe is now free, present in the real space! But what is she to do now??? Feel free to comment, or participate! (Part 3 of final project broadcast)

Posted by Tania Tay on Thursday, 13 April 2017

Finally, the end is near, as hinted by the dark skies. DT returns to the real world, unsure about her next action. On her way out, she touches the frame-portal, and accidentally destroys it – her ability to flow through worlds is now lost. She panics, for she is stuck, the sole being of a product of both worlds.

Isolated, she circumambulates around the only space she knows. Finishing up a walking cycle, she realises that she herself has been destroying the space with the X (close tab) on her palm. Her own existence is unstable – she does not exist in the real world. Thus, she marks her own finale: X-ing herself from the real world.

In Act III, I was perplexed of how to read viewer comments while performing (and not showing the screen on the recording screen) – and ended up not reading a single one while broadcasting. While broadcasting, I tried this ridiculous idea of holding on to a phone, and read the comments off it when I go off-screen in the rare moment. Suffice to say, it did not work; the anxiety while performing was too great, and this aspect remains one of my greatest regret.

I also intended for Act III to be of a longer duration, but panicked and rushed through my steps slightly too quick. However, all the intended steps were carried out.

Project Direction
Majority of the final outcome tallied with my initial idea, except for minor performative stage directions. Concept-wise, the topic of death/suicide can be controversial, hence the need to direct the artwork in an artificial manner. Replicating real life too closely, such as in Eva and Franco Mattes’ No Fun (2010), can collapse the distance between real and the imaginary – effectually undermining the project as a critique of the network, and misconstruing it as real and factual.

Key Ideas
Destruction: The project criticises networked spaces, by deconstructing and blurring the lines between spaces.

The life cycle: With a set direction and narrative, there are certainly limits as to how far audience interaction will affect the final outcome. The temporary, contained existence of DT in the real world is a separate aggregate, neither wholly digital, nor physical, but parts of both.

Incorporated Concepts
Glitch is defined 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)

In Act I, glitch was a defining characteristic, as a metaphor for a break from the conventional silent digital world (without agency of speech) to shattering the conventional method of conversation through Facebook comments – ultimately leading to a breakdown in understanding and communication. It parallels the shattering of the different worlds, making cross-travelling possible.

Randall Packer defines The third space as,

…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.
– Randall Packer, The Third Space (2014)

The project transverses amongst the different spaces fluidly – from the digital to the physical literally fostering a unique version of the third space. DT is constantly connected both physically and remotely. Her presence is shared and dispersed, her as a walking symbol of distributed space and the inability to completely separate herself from either, through her consciousness. Ironically, it is this instability of presence that ultimately drives her towards her own death.

Artist References
My project strongly resonated with Eva and Franco Mattes’ Darko Maver (1998-1999) and Grand Theft Avatar (2008) performed by Second Front. Both projects created different personas, albeit in different settings – Darko Maver was a reclusive artist living in the real world, although his identity only existed through his printed photographic artworks; Second Front members exists only in the digital space, but they have taken up real world identities. The distance between the real and artificial are suitably blurred, similarly, my project mixes up my real self with an outer constructed portrait of the digital persona.

Broadcasting over the Internet
Situated comfortably in the web medium, the work effectively portrays the temporality of its medium. It transposes physical interactivity from traditional interactions into a written, Emoticon-ised mediated interaction over the remote platform. Medium-specific, the artwork is no longer confined within a singular body, but exists remotely.

Notably, the work is now a collective project between audiences and the performer in real-time. It contravenes both the traditional top-down authoritative broadcasting system, and the idea of the distant artist separating viewers from his own self.

OSS and Her Death
OSS exists as a separate social platform where critical comments and feedback on the project were given. While OSS lacked the strength of Facebook live in giving real-time feedback, it provided a rough prediction of how the audience could react. Through periodical OSS updates on the project, I was made to articulate through writing, and better visualise the final outcome of the performance.

Prof Randall’s OSS updates on the class syllabus site were essential in creating a wholesome foundation in the Internet Arts, and were useful for reference to support my concept.


[i] Menkman, R. (2011) “Glitch Moment(um),” Institute of Network Cultures

[ii] Packer R. “The Third Space,” (2014) in Reportage from the Aesthetic Edge