Research Critique: Second Front

Every week as I embark on writing research critiques, I know I would raise my eyebrows. (Why thank you Randall for the fascinating and hard-to-understand-at-first-glance case studies.) This week, it was no different as I entered into the realm of Second Front, as I attempt to decipher a gist of it.

So, what they’re doing is not a game. Neither were the Second Front members ‘performing art member’ but performance art members. I deem them as performers of artistical critiques of certain issues they aim to raise, using graphcial animation and third space as their stage. One thing surely, is that they rely heavily on improvisation and unintended actions – which actually makes the magic. I’m a goer for that!

Second Life

What drew my attention greatest out of their works was the idea was the new world they created through Second Life. A virtual world where people come together, sell stuff, stage performances with no main objective – it was practically and literally a second life, lived through the third space. The fact that it engaged one million active users meant that it had an incentive for people.

It just made me wonder – Could it be that people are living their alter egos in Second Life? Or is it the fantasy element that people could actually live their ideal lives in the third space that attracts users?

Then again, this isn’t something particularly new as there are similar sites with the same concept, like habbo hotel. No particular objective but a virtual community where people are increasingly bold with the way they interact with strangers behind an anonymous image.

But one thing for sure is that people feel an inclination towards the virtual world because of the fact that they could be anyone else, just like everyone else there.


As my mentor once told me, not everything in art has a meaning behind it so don’t try to hard trying to understand it – trying too hard will spoil the art. Indeed, this is one work/artist group I dont plan to truly understand or decipher as it may be looking too close or too far into the whole picture they want to paint.

But I believe this can be a good thought about how with the third space, things can be real, and yet not real at the same time.

As I did my own research before reading the interview, I found that this quote actually resonates to my previous thought although it was meant for another context

“……a two way exchange between the virtual and the real, through which new hybrid meanings can be made….”

Hence, with the advent of such virtual platforms, it can be said that an amalgamation of the two worlds (real and virtual) have formed, transpiring us into a new ‘in-between’.

Looking into the future, in my take, is this question that we will ask:

‘What is even real anymore?

Cross-streaming Facebook Invite Test

So Facebook decided to up their game and created a ‘invite’ feature for ‘live’ videos, inviting countless ideas to the already many ideas we have for our final project.

This feature helped my partner and I communicate better – it became two-to many from the one-to many. Pretty interesting as we could now give commands to each other without hassle.

Technical errors: Bandwidth and a stable connection is really the core of delivering a good ‘live’ broadcast to a large extent. My partner’s face would be lagged with a failure icon at some points, breaking the flow of the broadcast.

Suggestions for our final broadcast

  • Work on concepts where latency do not matter
  • Think of the outcome of grids when collectively performed
  • Put two pairs together in other to create a ‘cross cross-stream’
  • Create a ‘two-to-many-ception’ with OBS screen capture

More technical tests to be done to experiment this! Trial and error yea?

Research Critique: JenniCam

Supposedly the first image taken on Jennicam. 

Jennicam started as a programming project to test if her script runs correctly where it’ll snap a picture on her webcam every 15 minutes. Who knew it wasn’t too long before it turned into an art project that has taken the internet by storm.

My eyebrows raised when the research on Jennicam started. It raised higher and got even higher as I’m typing the critique now, mainly questioning – what made her do it for 7 years? The main question was still – was she in the right mind? Or is that just her nature to carry out some of the things that she did.

The main main question I had: Why was there appeal?

First things first, Jennicam happened in 1996.

A context where the world wide web was still a phenomenon and many possibilities could’ve evolved from it – and she happened to be one of the phenomenons. She was the first of her kind to have done a ‘Facebook Live’ video of that time, where she herself and her daily life are the main subjects of a site-specific internet project. As she mentioned, she drew inspiration of a man that broadcasted a fish tank and that she thought could only be interesting for 5 minutes. Yet, her stream went on for 7 whole years, with her as the subject matter.

This demonstrates the strong desire of humans of wanting to stay connected with other humans and interests of the lives of others.  As compared to animals where people have broadcasted, they are not as intriguing as the human species, as what Jennifer herself mentioned. For Jennifer, it seems that her demand for attention and limelight surpasses any average individual in my opinion.

Voyeurism theory

As stated by the famous Sigmund Fraud, it refers to the idea of looking in order to gain sexual pleasure. This was what was happening on Jennicam. It has been argued that the male viewer’s gaze at the screen is geared to notions of voyeurism in that it is a powerful controlling gaze at the objectified female on display. The fact that the subject matter was female was already a hook for attention. Furthermore, Jennifer is showcasing her private moments, where audience already deem her as a sexual object. Sex appeal was clearly her selling points of the webcam broadcast, as seen from the questions and interest of David Lecherman. I mean Letterman.

Image result for jennicam david letterman


There was just something magnetic about JenniCam that drew viewers and high traffic to her site. It was easy to sit there and anticipate the next picture or moment, like a chain that links the next part of the narrative, which is unscripted and raw just like Videofreex, Hole-In-Space and the other works we’ve looked at. Hence, this anticipation during a real-time ‘live’ stream gave audience an added feeling of ‘looking-forward-to-see-what’s-next’, therefore attracting viewers.


Her life drama – a top-notch combination

“Scandal-plus-sex is a pretty unbeatable combination, for traffic” – Jorn Barger, creator of the Robot Wisdom weblog and a Jennicam fan.

One of the events that unfolded on Jennicam during the 7 years that I can’t fathom anyone would do is how she cheated openly to the wide world (very literally) with her good-friend, Courtney’s fiance named Dex. Like what are you gurl?

Image result for shook gif drag queen

Appeal for her site waned for a period of time until the stir of her love, sex and betrayal episode.

According to PC Data Online, traffic to the JenniCam site jumped 40 percent between the pre-Dex first week of July and the last weeks of the month; it drew 193,000 unique users the week that ended July 29.

Therefore, these are the reasons that made the pioneering webcam exhibitionist Jennicam so infamously appealing in my opinion.

Just a thought…what if OBS was available at that time?

Courtney should have done a reaction video via OBS while she desktop captures Jennicam’s lifestream. I can already imagine the names of her episode if Courtney did a reaction video. she could’ve superimposed if she had OBS.

Sex with my ex? Sex with my Dex?

Image result for laugh gif

The response from netizens

Vitriol spewed and it was no surprise. Outrage wasn’t confined to the internet and this was mentioned of her:

A “red-headed little minx” and an “amoral man trapper.” – The Washington Post

You read that right. The Washington Post called her that.

As her site closed in Dec 2003, here we are today faced with this epiphany:

Sounds familiar. Was it We’re All  Videofreex? Credits: @anildash

Well in some ways, Anil’s tweet is true as we’re Facebooking , Instagramming and periscoping our lives than ever before through social media .

In her interview with Letterman years back, she jokingly states how this will replace television. Indeed it has really come to past.

“Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes” – Andy Warhol

Also, Andy said it right. Indeed everyone will be famous for 15 minutes – on the internet and new media he meant. With the advent of the world wide web, this was the idea of being famous in the 21st century. As for Jennifer, it was 7 years.

In retrospect, her case can be seen as an experiment of morals and ethics on the internet – how far are people pushing these boundaries online, just because they are in the third space. People are definitely bolder. I feel like I could link this to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in a way, as her entire projects speaks a lot/can be study about human behaviour and their need for acceptance and attention. For her, she is a ratchet case and has sets standards of where do we not want to go as an online personality.

Research Critique: The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence by Douglas Davis (1994)

The huge difference between broadcast TV and the Web is the keyboard. With that people can say anything; they have full expressive capacity.

This quote by Douglas David resonated exactly with my thoughts on the whole piece of constructing the world’s longest sentence – people were free to put anything. ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING – that I find it daunting.

I see it as the most open and free and possibly longest comment thread in the world. Or a 1990’s open-to-public twitter feed.

Indeed, things got scary quite fast. Scrolling the first few pages already got me choking on my drink as I spotted some sentences that got rather dark.

You have people scolding their bosses. Some soliciting love and partners. And some even professing funny stuff

Essentially, the web offers unlimited amount of audience and word travels especially fast on cyberspace, with the sharing and tagging we’re able to do. We can see it literally as a web (pun unintended), or like a network of connections branching out and multiplying its source upon being shared. Hence, the amount of super participation is extremely high on a public platform, especially for one like Davis’ piece. Audiences collectively come together to contribute to the sentence in any words of their lexicon – which trigerred some replies to the previous sentence where they tried to lend some help. Others were just plain negative.

In summary

In the bigger picture, I believe this was a work to explore and examine how people interact when they are completely limitless to the content they can type and how this interactions trigger the next portion. They somehow co-relate like a butterfly effect. However, it seems that more negative statements/content can be found in this whole text, holding together what we have learnt in the previous reading – that we may get bolder in the third space as we aware of the lack of physical contact to the other parties we are interacting with.

Ultimately, the anonymity plays a huge part in the content we enter. This is also how the term ‘keyboard warrior’ was formed, right?

Oh I’m not done yet

On a slightly extra note, I think the future development of this piece now is to really look at the conservation of it. It first launched in 1994 – that’s as old as me, and the type of software used to contain the information had several errors as mentioned in the readings. Perhaps the team taking on the project could revamp on the system to store the data and accentuate the user interface and aesthetics of this super-participatory piece. I can see it as a minimal looking website with clean aesthetics for audience to intuitively input their sentence in contrast to the wordy landing screen they currently have.





Research Critique: BOLD3RRR by Jon Cates

After watching Jon Cate’s BOLD3RRR… Realtime: Reflections and Render-times, my brain went into a glitch. I’m pretty sure everyone’s first take on his work is a ‘I don’t understand what’s going on’.

This recording shows him mucking around with softwares of his daily life, playing with Ableton and switching between screens, making comments as he sets up a desktop misc-en-scene.

For Jon Cates, a point to commend was that he was doing all of that in real-time. He was merging feedback loops with personal data that were swimming in associations back and forth around the world, namely Chicago to Taipei to Boulder and back again. That is rather remarkable doing it ‘live’.

In this process, i’ve noticed the bulk of white noise produced in the video and it was very painful to the ears. The 10 minute mark was the longest I could hit before developing a headache, to be honest.

Screen grabs from BOLD3RRR, a ‘live’ desktop misc-en-scene by Jon Cates | Link :

Apart from that, I also felt that whatever recorded can be seen as a collective narrative. There were abrupt cuts in between the video which he injected with. However, I still noticed a flow as the body copy in the video supported the flow of the narrative, hence deducing that the random interjected footage is part of making his point.

Also, I particularly enjoyed reading the conversation between Jon Cates and Randall Packer after seeing his work, as I was really curious of what sort of a person he is to create such art. (apart from his faxxxxinating typ3 styl333)

Aberration is indeed a way to sum glitch art as a whole. But as for Cates in particular, I felt like he was trying to put the normal and the abnormal together. Normal in the sense that these were the everyday things he would do on a desktop and abnormal, in the use of a desktop as a canvas and turning it into glitch. The desktop misc-en-scene turned out to become something particularly abnormal in my opinion, with the jarring white noise trippy jumpy graphics that actually made me feel uncomfortable after looking at it for long.

This might be due to the fact that we see and expect a clean and faultless desktop screen everyday and we find a sense of peculiarity when a part of a screen is not displaying something ‘right’, moreover distortion in images.

Personally, I’ve been a fan of glitch art with it’s trippy aesthetics and made a few pieces of glitch art myself. Even for my display icon here on OSS, I used some forms of chromatic aberration to elevate the look.


Val’s reaction on dirtynewmedia, 2017 – mixed medium

However, it was quite shock to come across the content on the  dirty new media tumblr site. My friends screamed when they saw the type of content posted and I guess they felt it was rather taboo.

“i wanted to reclaim fetish && say, yea, of course fetish is part of what i do b/c fetish is punk + its part of “originary” punk from the SEX shop run by Malcolm McLaren + Vivian Westwood. so, yea, of course, fetish is in my work, but its in this way that’s consistent w/ my art/life inna way that’s dirty, in the sense of being impure, but also (hopefully) sexxxy && exxxciting!”

Upon coming across this quote, I begin to tell some parts of his personality, on being really bold, especially with his work and being even bolder portraying his fetishes openly. Also depending on cultures, society and personality, dirty new media content are things that some might now show or expose to others. He is one the allows his art to frankly expose his style and be transparent about it. Pretty respectable as I wouldn’t go to the extend of incorporating such content in my art in Singapore. If you ask me why, I would bounce the question back to you – would you?

From my understanding, glitch art = visual glitches that come in forms of stills or moving images or even sound. There are several approaches of making glitch art that include data manipulation, misalignment, hardware failure, misregistration and distortion.

For Cate’s work, I notice that he makes direct alternations of the digital files itself, which is common for artists. Alternatively, there are others too that make hardware manipulating to create these errors. Some are fascinating and cool, like the gif I used in as my feature image. Others, as seen on his erotic tumblr site are slightly off the hook and NSFW which I won’t pin under my favourites in glitch art.

On a leaving note, it made me wonder: If it’s labelled glitch art, does it mean that nothing can go wrong? Since it is categorised as a glitch





Adobe Connect Experience


It was indeed and experience having a lesson in a virtual classroom and having all the first-hand experience in the practical as we go through the theory in class.

There were a few notable differences between having a lesson in class and in our comfort of space.

Personally, I do prefer the whole experience of having a physical class without any barriers to my classmates and tutor. In the physical space, i’m able to observe reactions and facial expressions that are totally honest. Whereas on adobe kinect, only a few people are called up at a certain time. And they very well know they everyone is able to see their faces and expression. They themselves are reminded of that too. Also for those that are not on screen, we never know what is happening on their end, which piques my curiosity at certain junctures.

However, the performance part was kind of intriguing. This is because it was highly interactive as it involved everyone in the class. We were able to do cool and quirky stuff like pulling a random object and out of each other’s frames. Eg. Pulling the keyboard into each other’s desktop misc-en-scne with Makoto.

Also, the chat box was a good way to having some small relevant conversations about what the speaker is saying. In class, it was impossible for someone to speak concurrently and have others to expand on a point they have just mentioned with regards to what the speaker said. Hence, chat box is a plus point.

However, as agreed with the other students it can be really distracting when some messages are not relevant to what the speaker is saying. Constant chatter like that distracts students when we really want to concentrate and make notes.

Also during the virtual class, there was also some noise and inaudibility with the speaker and mic. Hence I heard the wrong name and made an appearance when I wasn’t called. Oops! Technology (and hearing fails!)


Research Critique: Hole in Space

Hole in Space (1980) is a quintessential piece that highlights the possibility of a performance platform that has no geographic boundaries happening in real time.  I find the title of video, ‘mother of all video chats’  a very apt name indeed, given that it was the very first large screen teleconferencing in history.

Through its medium in telecommunication, it involves the audience in voluntary two-way interaction. These interactions are spontaneous, unrehearsed and natural, which captured the beauty of it as no one knew what to expect – be it the audience or the artists themselves. No signs or announcements were made for this public piece and furthermore, it was the first of its kind in history. Watching such videos actually made me feel glad that these moments were captured and recorded in its most honest form, as I find content like this is hard to come by these days.

On a deeper level, a reason why Hole in Space was picked up by the media in a matter of days or regarded as a successful piece for expansion is the work’s ability to capture audience on an emotional level.

Screen grab of Hole in Space excerpt featuring ecstatic lady as she sees her relative on a large screen in real-time. Second image features another lady on her left looking really shocked by her reactions

One of the clip shows an overwhelmed lady expressing her endearment for her mom that she misses as she kneels and waves to the other screen. At one point, she spots another family member and goes all hysterical as she smacks the ground in euphoria. It was said that families and friends drove from various areas to this site in order to see, hear and converse with loved ones three thousand miles apart.

Here, we see the desire of human beings to connect or even re-connect with people. Specific to this case, people were seen eager to reach out to another party physically thousand of miles away, and conversing normally as if meeting each other upfront. Through this interaction, both parties have collaboratively come together to create a performance in this third space, tearing down the traditional walls of having a sole performer reaching out to a viewer.

“A virtual space creates social situations without traditional rules of etiquette. The absence of threat of physical harm makes a person braver”

Screen grab of lady flirting openly with man and immersing in casual talk

Another part of the video shows a lady and a man, one in Los Angeles and the other in New York City, flirting with each other through the screens. They even exchanged numbers openly. With regards to the quote, indeed people do interact differently on a third space as compared to face to face meetings as we very well know about the physical boundary.

Hence in this case, the lady knows that she isn’t under any physical threat, therefore her body language and things she say become rather bold. Also depending on individual and cultures, it would be rather weird to give someone your number and start flirting upon the few moments of meeting them face to face. In this third space, the lady and man have indeed broken the traditional rules of etiquette, by being a tease towards each other.

In designing such spaces, we look not only at their qualities and aesthetics, but how people interact when they are disembodied and their image is their “ambassador”

Essentially, this telecommunications piece has exemplified the breaking boundaries of the physical space to have a many-to-many interaction and also forming new ways of interaction between people in a third space. These interactions have broken conventions of physical ones and formed a new ways of interacting (mainly more boldly) when in the virtual space.


Collective Narratives

In relation to collective narratives, it was first explored by Ernie Kovacs and Steve Allen in the early 1950s. They explored composite images as they wanted to find out the relationship between aesthetics and sense of presence in shared performance/multimedia environment, where people do not leave their indigenous environments. This whole project of Hole in Space is an example itself of a collective narrative. People of different cultures and backgrounds were coming on this shared performance space without leaving their indigenous environments. Their “ambassador” image comes off more brave and highly honest, and most importantly their performance are unscripted. Therefore, this brings out some characteristics of individuals that they might not be comfortable to show in a physical situation.


Additional research


Hole in Space (2015). Image from

Hole in Space (2015) is a remake by Maya Gurantz & Ellen Sebastian Chang, inspired by the work of Galloway and Rabinowitz. Similarly, they did not have any public announcement on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook or press releases about it.

Video “portals” were installed between distinct Oakland neighborhoods that are close geographically but very much different socioeconomically. In their own words “attempting to provide a portal of mutual acknowledgement and understanding–a counterpoint to the city’s current accelerated gentrification and concurrent economic unrest.”

Screen grab of Hole in Space (2015) passer-bys attempting to communicate, both from different states in Oakland

People were seen exchanging few short sentences of ‘How ya doin?’ or ‘Which part are you guys from?’ across the screens. I’ve noted that reactions and interactions were not as great as its predecessor and that wasn’t surprising as high-speed bandwidth and large screen teleconferencing wasn’t new in 2015.

However, what remained the same was that people were still bold in their actions they made before the screen.

Screen grab of video showing a man dancing while the other follows suit. They are separated miles away but still in the same state of Oakland 

In the virtual space, people were seen dancing and shaking their body mimicking one another – this isn’t something people normally do in a physical space. Hence, the new ways of interaction that birthed through teleconferencing did not change 40 years later.

“If you define the aesthetic of the medium, by defining the essence and integrity of the medium, then the creation of “good art” in the case of telecommunications, means you create a situation that provides some form of communication between people and maximize communication between people and maximises the technology’s capabilities”


“A Hole in Space” by Kit Galloway (1980)


Research Critique – Videofreex

As I sat back and watched the one hour documentary, I was furiously penning down the thoughts I had as the segments played. The video was no doubt a documentary of a ground-breaking moment in history for television, video or media in general. I also found it weird that i’ve not came across this study as a mass communication student back in poly.

For the first half of it, I initially thought the whole movement by Videofreex could be summarised with the word ‘unregulated’. As I watched on and reiterated my thoughts, I came to a conclusion that it’s more than a basic level of  just broadcasting unregulated content.

There were a few levels in this media movement. This was the process that I thought was happening

> Unregulated content is broadcasted

> Boundaries surpassed (opening new ways of broadcasting content)

> Opens up different perspectives > challenges audience’s thought about content shown in the media

> social/political effects (change of views, different means of media distrbution (current day technology) etc.)

I’ll summarise the points that I felt Videofreex has created the most impact on

Breaking boundaries

Firstly, this whole movement by the Videofreex was more than just generating unregulated content  – it was a media movement that surpassed boundaries by opening up a whole new world of possibilities in the world of media broadcasting. It has proven the possibility of distributing content that was personal and in its rawest form.

A member of Videofreex mentioned,

“On TV, you see everything except what is happening around you”.

Things changed with this movement – they managed to bring everyday content to the masses which was the harbinger of social media sharing today. What could our social media timeline look like if sharing of personal videos or daily lives weren’t possible? Or even on any broadcast channels?

If the Videofreex did not step over this boundary, I presume the world today to be more oppressed. Basically of people taking in regulated media content passively and believing things at it is. Based on their society or culture, some would tend to yearn for more daily-life and personal content while others will passively take in the information as seen through their screens.


As mentioned, this entire movement brought about new possibilities – one of which is the level of engagement with its audience. It broke the walls of having a one-to-many audience and stepping it up to a many-to-many audience. During their ‘live’ broadcasts, audiences were encouraged to call in, which opened up a gateway of communication between the broadcaster and its audience. This paradigm shift is formidably interesting in the 1960s/70s context as the stage was not solely on the broadcaster’s side but a new platform, The Third Space is formed. The audience are also part of the act and from there, more possibilities can happen from here.

What I like about their broadcasted videos:

A Sense of Intimacy with the events

A member of the videofreex mentioned,

“TV stations weren’t marching in the women’s march. We were the ones marching together in it”

There was a sense of intimacy in their pieces and in fact, I strongly feel this is what audiences want. It feels personal and makes the source more credible. There’s a sense of allure in honest content and personal accounts of events as opposed to a scripted piece of reportage.

Therefore, in our current day context, we see personal accounts of an incident/accident of Facebook which gathers more attention and credibility than a post from a news broadcaster. Similarly, we are more drawn to these unregulated posts as it shows us full content and details which might’ve been left out in regulated posts.

What they might’ve negatively impacted (through its possibilities in distribution) 

Opening up the possibility of distributing and sharing any content that we want has its drawbacks, which is seen in our society today. For social media sharing, people get too casual in posting certain media and it goes through without being regulated (unless reported).

For example, I’ve scrolled through real content of beheading, suicide and accident videos and other forms of content that should be censored. It might be good that certain things blocked by mainstream media have surfaced online in favour of the public, but certain content has to be watched. All the more, if it happens during a ‘live’ broadcast, there is no way to edit the ‘boo-boos’ and certain parties have to be responsible for it.


In summary..

The documentary has provoked many thoughts about media sharing, namely the paradigm shift of traditional media broadcasting to the possibility of portable video filming and sharing personal content on the go that we have today.

And indeed, we are bombarded by information everywhere through the media but is each piece credible? As a leaving note for this post, I’ll post a question to ourselves: Are we a thinker or a believer?