Symposium

Days attended: 1 & 2

The Art of the Networked Practice Online Symposium is an international gathering presenting emerging research, artistic work, and technological innovation in the networked arts. Intended as a global and inclusive gathering, with no registration fees, the symposium unites local and remote speakers and audiences from all corners of the world via Webconferencing, bridging Singapore with an active international new media arts community that transcends geographic and cultural boundaries. The symposium demonstrates how networked space can be used to activate live performance and online artistic work, stimulate creative dialogue, and encourage open sharing of knowledge through an online global exchange.

Day 1 | Online En-semble – Entanglement Training

In this piece of performance, Annie Abrahams and the 7 other performers including Antye Greie, Helen Varley Jamieson, Soyung Lee, Huong Ngô, Daniel Pinheiro as well  as Igor Stromajer come together online to investigate how people can be together in a connected world where machines and humans need to learn to communicate in the world of partial overviews, glitches, time-lags, disrupting audience participation and ensuing disorientations.

“Rather than fighting the glitches, errors and disruptions that are inherent in our everyday online interactions, particularly via live Internet communications, she discovers the work through these networked “entanglements,” observing the resulting interactions, and finding creative solutions to building compelling visual and sonic moments in distributed time and space.” -Randall Packer

For this performance, Annie Abrahams wrote a script for 7 performers coming from different cultural backgrounds and without any restriction and knowledge of what the other performers would be doing, each performers would have to converse with each other using objects of their choice and perform with their prepared phrases and voices. In these voices, they share their phrases of relation to politics. As such, due to the ambiguities brought about by numerous factors as well as the unknown, this piece of performance act as a communication platform for the performers.

As an audience, it was truly mesmerising to see how the performance come together in terms of the visual as well as the audio that were provided by none other than the mouths of the performers themselves. As we had previously attempted a piece of performance with Annie Abrahams, we truly understand the difficulty to be in tune with the rest of the performers since we do not really know what would happen next. As such, watching this piece of performance was really wonderful and amusing since these performers has amazing and wonderful telepathy and tacit understanding with each other.

During the performance, performers can be heard saying different timings such as “1 milliseconds” and starting off their phrases and performance with “excellent”. While these are interesting phrases, I felt that in this piece of performance, the most interesting aspect would be the live commentary by the audiences while the performance was being carried out.

“All conversations are unfinished and in a way this seems to be the heart of the symposium, the piece, the chat, even the latency” -Alan Sondheim

Referencing to what Alan Sondheim has said in the chat during the performance, I felt that this piece of performance was able to attain another form of “entanglements” in the form of the chat room which adds to the layers and dynamics. Even though the chat may or may not be considered in the performance piece itself, it stayed true to the essence of the piece. While some participants felt apologetic to the performers for their commentary during the performance (which the performer was perfectly okay with), I personally felt that it adds a great and fun touch to the performance itself. The comments were able to add a different perspective to the performance at live time which was definitely helpful.

Day 2 | Keynote Speaker – Matt Adams

kidnap

“As well as highlighting a current phenomenon, Kidnap is about control and consent, the media, theatre and lottery culture.  It is a conceptual act, a perversity and a psychological investigation.” -Blast Theory

In this project, numerous theme were explored by the Blast Theory team. Themes included control and consent, media, lottery culture, theatre, psychological investigation and voyeurism. While all the themes were of rather intriguing reasons and underlying meaning, the idea of control and consent strikes me.

In terms of the idea of control and consent, the two participants are invited to be “kidnapped” and hand over their lives to strangers for two days. Due to the consent given by the “victims” this project poses a rather interesting dynamic between the people involved. However, even with such consent and control given, as perfectly pictured by Blast Theory, “It asks for an act of trust, of abandonment, for faith in the unknown.”.

Despite the “victims” knowing that they are in an act or rather performance, does the consent and control given really change the whole idea of kidnap? Being kept in captivity for 2 days, not knowing what is happening with the blind folds on, the consciousness of being in an act of being kidnapped might soon be diluted. While the “victims” could very well adapt to this whole performance and treat it as a form of adventure for 48 hours, the grey area presented by this project could be further explored.

Throughout the entire keynote talk, the one phrase which caught me the most would perhaps be this by Matt Adams in his discussion of kidnap.

“perhaps the primary skill of being a president  is acting as one instead of being one”

This phrase that was mentioned by Matt Adams is extremely applicable in my opinion to today’s world where the world of politics is almost as dramatised as that of the entertainment industry. Donald Trump, a television personality turned President of the United States would always be the best example to this phrase. Is he really being one or acting like he is someone who is capable of? The latter one would make more sense, looking at all the scandals which he has made pre-president, right now and in perhaps so in the future.

pft…

“Annie Abrahams develops what she calls an aesthetics of trust and attention and creates situations meant to reveal messy and sloppy sides of human behaviour, where she traps reality and so makes that reality available for thought.” 

In her work utilising video, performance and the internet, Annie Abrahams  strives to question the limitations and possibilities of communication and questions and more specifically investigates its modes under networked conditions.

In Angry Women, Annie Abrahams  experiments with complete strangers, allowing them to interact via webcams. In the fifth take of this experiment which I find the most impactful, 9 women sits infront of their webcams, in their own personal space without the physical accompaniment of the others. 

Without a specific time limit, these women are given the perfect platform to speak out, act out and let loose all the angers which they have kept within them on their webcam at the different locations which they are in and in their native tongues. The end of each piece was  determined by 1 minute of silence by all participants, which indicates that they, no longer has any anger left within them to vent on.

This piece of work explores the idea of “lonely togetherness” as discussed by  Annie Abrahams in “Trapped to Reveal – On webcam mediated communication and collaboration.”. Staying true to her curiosity regarding the concept of communication via a networked condition, Angry Women brings about a change to the concept which revolves around one’s digital identity.

Often times, people tend to create a digital identity or even an alter ego for themselves online since one is able to control the information which they put out there. Images, words and informations can also be staged without the knowledge of others knowing. However, in the case of Angry Women, things are different. As each participant sits infront of the webcam, they lose their control of being able to control their digital image.

“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

Strained with limitations and issues such as the lag in video streaming as well as the action and reaction of others, Annie Abrahams plays with these limitations to challenge the spell cast by digital platforms on digital identity as perfectly quoted by Randall Packer above.

 

FakeBook

“Face-to-facebook practically questions online privacy through one of the web’s most iconic platforms.”

Face to Facebook is a large scale project which was created by Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico. In this project, Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico made use of special custom software to collect the datas of more than 1M facebook users and then translating them onto the “users” of the dating website Lovely Faces.

This project relays the consequences of posting sensitive personal data on social network platforms which might result to real life consequences. These consequences are always underestimated because we still instinctively tend to confine what we do online in the visual space of the screen.

To further support the claims and rationale of Face to Facebook, the video above which shows former Facebook executive speaking the dangers posed by the mechanisms of Facebook further emphasise on the importance of social consciousness even on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or even Instagram.

However, D.E. Wittkower has a different take on the idea of Facebook or perhaps any other social media platform.

“Many of our Facebook actions are like this. They might seem to mean nothing, and yet be taken to mean something. They might seem to mean something, and in fact mean something else.”

To D.E. Wittkower, Facebook is something that is close to heart and connects users to their friends and social circle. It allows you to customise the extend of reach in which your profile is able to be accessed to and by people.  Facebook in other words to D.E. Wittkower is his identity translated into the third space which we have touched on previously.

While both parties does make sense in their own ways, I personally feel that if Face to Facebook were to be carried out in the present society of technological addiction, the response would not be as impactful as it predicts.

With so many of us putting up a rehearsed and carefully curated digital identity, even with the presence of identity theft or the usage of datas in the case of Face to Facebook, it does not really make a huge difference. Why bother? Why would users be impacted since most of the informations are mainly an act and another persona of the real person?

// Burn it Up //

“Who can deny that we are a nation addicted to television and the constant flow of media? Haven’t you ever wanted to put your foot through your television?” – Doug Hall

Media burn was a beautiful piece of art which integrates performance, spectacle and media critique as their approach to analyse the impact of mass media in American culture through the usage of radical architecture.

Due to the post-war baby boom as well as the increase in disposable incomes of young Americans in the 1950s to 1960s, the access to television as a new form of entertainment steadily became a norm and eventually an addiction.

While it may be fuelled by the consumer culture as well as the females struggles for their sense of self after the post-war period, television became a paramount part of people’s life. It was an alternative platform for entertainment other than print media and cinema.

With the mass broadcast of John F. Kennedy funeral, the television took a shift from a platform for entertainment to that of the source for news and information.

Regardless of it being a source of entertainment or news and information, people were hooked. Television became undetachable from the American public.

“And not a few of us are frustrated by this addiction” – Doug Hall as J.F. Kennedy

Despite the media and public not understanding the underlying meaning of this piece of art, it was definitely ironic in my opinion that it was heavily covered by the mass media. 

 

// DIWOrld //

” Furtherfield connects people to new ideas, critical thinking and imaginative possibilities for art, technology and the world around us. Through artworks, labs and debate people from all walks of life explore today’s important questions. “

Hitting close to the heart, Furtherfield truly reflects and relay the idea of DIWO through their artistic projects which are made possible through collaborative efforts with peers and people at the 3rd space.

Telegarden

With reference to the article “Do it With Others (DIWO): Participatory Media in the Furtherfield Neighborhood” ‘ the concept of Furtherfield as well as many telematic art pieces and activity which we have discussed previously such as Telematic Dreaming, Telegarden, Telematic Embrace as well as Tele-stroll, fully embraces the concept of the Third space as well as the idea of collaboration.

With the concept of DIWO, art is no longer limited to a specific space, embracing the concept of mobility and unconventionality.  Through the collaboration of people on the scale free network, the idea of space limitation can also take a back seat as thus allowing the fluidity of ideas and creativity that has been limited by space in most conventional art forms.

GLitCH acitvity

The concept of DIWO also provides the platform for works to be bettered and develop further as access are given to all just like the GLitcH activity which we have experienced in class in a scaled down version of the full idea.

While the largest difference between the idea of DIWO+Art Making in comparison to conventional art is really being in the digital space and physical space, I felt that DIWO provides more than many can imagine.

Firstly, in terms of location, conventional art form is something which is very proper just from the presentation of the piece and often only viewable at a specific location as well as time. However when it comes to DIWO+Art, it often spreads over a span of time and can almost be carried out in anywhere possible just like the concept of telematic dreaming. Bed was the platform and location the art piece needed regardless of where it was placed at.

Secondly, the concept of DIWO + Furtherfield provides an open platform for the free exchange of information, allowing the experienced to lead the rookies in bettering their skills regardless of the area of expertise. While sites and organisation which embraces DIWO could be interpreted as a platform, I felt that it is ultimately a new art form rather than a platform for art and it is only made possible with the creation of the internet/ethernet.

In the 21st century, it is no longer uncommon for the sharing of ideas such as youtube etc. Rather than rejecting the idea, it draws more advantage to embrace the concept.

// Farm with Me //

“The Telegarden is an art installation that allows web users to view and interact with a remote garden filled with living plants. Members can plant, water, and monitor the progress of seedlings via the tender movements of an industrial robot arm.” 

Through the lens of the camera as seen in the image in the header, “planters” around the globe are able to plant their own seeding through the internet by borrowing hands of the robot.

Telegarden remained online 24 hours a day until it was decommissioned after 9 years in August 2004.

While Telegarden removes certain degree of emotional attachment and dynamism to planting one’s own seedling with their own hands, it does compensate with this special dynamism of planting with others.

Rather than making all the decisions on all the placement of the plants in your own garden, Telegarden instead help relief the pain of the torturous process of trying to match up the plants on the plot of land one has in their own garden. Moreover, this piece of collaborative art allows different minds to work together in creating the ever perfect garden through each of their “own hands”.

On the other hand, this piece of art also creates this very interesting juxtaposition whereby the planting of one’s own seedling which is a rather intimate and special process is done so by the hands of a robot which has all but emotions.

However, in my very opinion despite planting one’s own seedling over the internet and through the hands of a robot, it further creates this sense of excitement and care over the plant since we do not have instantaneous contact and view to the plant.

 

// Are you real? //

”Telematic Dreaming was originally produced as a commission for the annual summer exhibition curated by the Finnish Ministry of Culture in Kajaani, with support from Telecom Finland, in June 1992.” -Paul Sermon

Through the usage of video-conferencing technology as well as the presence of the ISDN networks, the installation Telematic Dreaming draws on the idea of a third space whereby 2 people at different locations are alone but together which Paul Sermon calls “Telepresent environment“.

With the usage of live projections, 2 complete strangers would be able to interact with each other on top of the 2 different bed which they are lying on, as if they are both lying together side by side as reflected by the figure on the left.

Like his other telematic installations such as “The Telematic Séance” and “Telematic Vision”, Paul Sermon “explores the emergence of user-determined narratives between remote participants who are brought together within shared telepresent environments”. With such settings, this acts as an experimental interaction piece whereby the art piece is left to the response of the participants as they interacts with each other as seen in the header image.

In my opinion, the usage of the bed as a tool of the installation adds a touch of magic to overall telematic experience. The bed is a belonging which connotes privacy as well as trust and is often shared by people who are close to each other such as couples or even siblings. As such, the usage of bed as the projection platform and the basis of interaction in this installation gave rise to an enhance level of intimacy which extends beyond the boundary of the telematic environment.

// Open Source //

// Summary //

The concept of Open Source arises in opposition to the system of proprietary mode of creative production. Serving as an enemy to the proprietary system which embraces copyright laws and regulations, the open source concept works against the profit-driven market as discussed by Randall Packer  in his essay “Open Source Studio“.

In contrary to the proprietary model which impedes development and progression in various fields such as the scientific world whereby pre-developed tools are paramount in new scientific discoveries as opinionated by Richard Stall, the Open Source concept embraces peer-to-peer interaction and free accessibility.

Linux broadly denotes a family of free and open-source software operating systems built around the Linux kernel.

With various open source platforms now available such as the GNU or Linux, the potential of an idea or even work could be further improved and expanded. Taking advantage of the digital age and technological advancement, open source allows the accessibility of people from all around the globe on various platforms provided to provide their inputs and contributions to ideas which resonates with themselves in response to the artist and creator.

The GNU operating system is a complete free software system pioneered off initially by Richard Stallman through the announcement of the GNU Project in September 1983.

While the idea of open source allows for the inclusion of user experiences as well as the sharing of ideas, it does has its risks of blurring the lines of content ownership since everyone has the accessibility to works without having to go through proper processes, mentioned by Vaidhyanathan, Sida  in her essay on “Open Source as Culture-Culture as Open Source”.

Considering the lasting benefits which can be brought about by the concept of open source, more emphasis and support must be gathered before large corporations overlook the economic benefits which copyrights can bring and rather take into interest the benefits of consumers.