Research Critique: Annie Abrahams, The Big Kiss (2007)


French performance artist Annie Abrahams uses webcam technology and attempts to kiss through a video call. This is an example of an interaction occurring in a third space, as despite being present in different geographical locations, the physical boundaries collapses as the two individuals starts to feel more immersed in the act.

It brings to the question why Abrahams choose to use a kiss as the main element in the performance.  A kiss can express sentiments of love, passion, romance, sexual attraction,, sexual arousal, affection, respect, greeting, friendship, peace, and good luck, among many others. A kiss is something that is very intimate, yet, how did you feel when you watch the interaction occur in a third space?

Ulay and Abramovic performs’Breathing in, Breathing out’ (April 1977, Belgrade)

Watch a snippet of it here!

What emotions does these art performances, that does not occur in third spaces evoke in you? Especially in comparison with The Big Kiss. It seems like The Big Kiss is far less passionate and intense. It also seems to be more gestural, compared to the two examples above.

And perhaps, because touch, voice, and body signals, which are important for communication, are deprived in the machine mediated experience. This brings to the question to how intimacy is being adapted almost “shortchanged” due to the digital world we live in today.

Of course, we do not need to video call one another and perform The Big Kiss to show love. But on the other hand, we have perhaps unknowingly adapted it into various forms, like sending emojis, or simply dropping a “HPD!” message onto one’s Facebook wall. Ultimately, intimacy in a third space cannot be replaced or substituted.

So where and what are the limits of digital communication?

Machine mediated kissing in a performance = drawing with your tongue = taking pleasure, while constructing an image = a way to be superaware of the other = never totally abandoning yourself = ???????? = not at all like real kissing, it’s better! This might be a female view point. – Annie Abrahams

Like what Annie Abrahams said herself, The Big Kiss is not like a real kiss. To her, it is better due to not having the need to be physically present, which allows a closer intimacy between the two performance. And this is an advantage in her perspective.

Ultimately, different tools and platforms has its pros and cons and we need to be aware and tap on these advantages when it comes to our own artworks.

Research Critique I: Open Source Studio

Inline with “The Way Of Open Source” by Randall Packer, Yochai Benkler agrees that the assumption where people are only motivated to produce information should they be monetarily compensated is false. For example, a familiar open source we can look at is Wikipedia. A commons where individuals are constantly updating information without any said benefits. On top of Wiki,  NASA Clickworkers, or even the conversations from our Hardwarezone forums.

Wikipedia Logo

With our highly networked society today, the examples above and the article written by Randall Packer has indeed expanded my eyes to the potential of open source network have to individuals. To me, one open source platform that I utilize very much as a creative is Pinterest and Vimeo. Imagine the amount of inspiration one could receive – should everyone share their works and ideas openly on these platforms.

On the other side of the coin, is it possible to build a safe, buzzing and like-minded community where we all can share freely? For even should we not be driven by monetary gains to share the ongoings of our creative minds, we might have a different motivation to do so. Take for example Wikipedia again, where “Wiki wars” do actually happen due to different personal agendas individuals posses.

Art is social

Perhaps should we acknowledge that the act of creation is indeed a social act (further explained below), maybe we would be more open to the concept of an Open Source Studio. And who knows what new, crazy ideas would be developed from there.




Art is a social act: It is very likely that we draw inspiration and ideas from somewhere, something, or from someone. Our own minds by itself, is moulded by people and we also learn from people. From the beginning of time, art itself was created by the entire community (think of Ang Kor Wat or the Pyramid), and was meant to be utilised for the community.