net art, video, performance

Annie Abrahams

Not Texts.


The Age of Earthquakes – A guide to the Extreme Present by Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland and Hans Ulrich Obrist “imitates” McLuhan’s approach in The Medium is the Massage and was much criticized because precisely it is a book, that looks back instead of forward – David L. Ulin L.A.Times, and because it’s not serious writing. M.H. Miller goes as far as saying that the authors have no actual skills in his Artnews article called Disaster Writing: New Book By Douglas Coupland and Hans Ulrich Obrist Wreaks Havoc on Original Thought. This resonates with a lot of reactions to my online collaborative writing experiments started in 1999. “The results are not texts.” people said and still say.


I started working online in 1996 because I thought that by using hypertext I could come closer to showing something about what was going on in my brain than by using anything else. My brain isn’t functioning in a linear way, if I don’t constrain it to do so. I loved the concept of the network, of the simultaneously existing parts, the multiple pathways inside, the way I could simulate and imagine a thought hopping through it without controlling where it went. This was new at the time, but we quickly grew accustomed to using the internet in our daily internet lives and aren’t even aware anymore of it’s original power. But in the mean time I saw the appreciation of the lingering mind changing and this book is a voice for its complex character.

But why do I like it as a book? It historizes what otherwise would stay ephemeral – the multiple voice making a profile in the possible. And of course it remembers me of my own book from estranger to e-stranger – living in between languages, that is constructed in a similar way.

To better understand what the resulting texts of my collaborative online writing experiments “do” I started reading them aloud and using them in performances. Maybe, Martina and I, we could use The Age of Earthquakes as the basic text for one of our upcoming besides, performances.

Filed under: Collective writing, , , , ,

Ed Atkins – remediating?

Ed Atkins: NO-ONE IS MORE “WORK” THAN ME, 2014. Performed in 14rooms, Fondation Beyeler, Basel.
On a large unadorned flat screen a 1:1 scale 3-D head, shaved and tattooed, bids for his humanity. A real-life person is present, performing according to the directive to “bear witness to” the avatar’s eight-hour pitch at being a convincing person.


Why am I posting this video? It was Ienke Kastelein who pointed me to it when we talked about the discussion on empathy and intimacy in networked performance in which we both participated. There is no immediate link, but I watched the video, did some research and couldn’t stop thinking about it. Why was there a performer “to bear witness” beside the screen? What did that mean?

A triple (quadruple?) presence – Atkins doing a poetic performance for 8 hours somewhere not far away, an avatar, a 3D-head delivering this performance on a bluescreen to the public and an actor, wearing a blue hood, besides the screen. The fourth presence being the computer who calculated in real-time the 3D head and the sound.

There was a large screen and a live performer, who didn’t really do anything save remediate.” said Atkins in Head Space, a conversation between Ed Atkins and Matthew De Abaitua about the intertwining of art and technology in Frieze 165.

remediate = to set straight

This made me think he needed this body to make the performance acceptable in the frame of contemporay performance practice. He needed a remediator, a corps that could attach the 3D-head. He needed to heal. The technological is not (yet) “real” enough to perform.

It also pointed exactly to what I consider to be a problem in online performance practice. We count on a suspension of disbelief in order for the performance to be. (“What tells me, it’s not prerecorded?”) Sometimes, the use of a chatwindows in online performances also functions as a kind of remediator that suspends the need to belief…
What if we stopped remediating, but started working the pixels, flaws, glitches, delays, misunderstandings … the aesthetics of behaviour – aesthetics of attention (is there a difference?).

Don’t get me wrong I like the poetry of the piece – I do like the presence of the body – it makes the whole thing a bit wry. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t see the performance, I would like to though.

Filed under: Of interest, , , , , , ,

Shirley Clarke – Is this reality?

I would have liked to know her.
Shirley Clarke has been making videowork in the 70ties and 80ties, that you might think I am building upon, if you didn’t know I only became aware of her work a few days ago.
I was looking for information on a photo where she was kissing with Nam June Paik in a splitscreen installation by David Cort. For this I contacted Deedee Halleck who said I should look into Shirley’s work. She was right. I was especially smitten by what I learned of her participative and open video practice*. It’s somehow very close to how I treat webcam performance.
This is a photo by Peter Simon from a blogpost written by Deedee Halleck. Her post also contains more images and some anecdotes on the inspiring TeePee workshops.

I found Beth Capper‘s interesting article Building The Pleasure Palace Theater of the Future: Archiving Shirley Clarke’s Early Video Work, but unfortunately the archival website she planned to make doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

And there is Andrew Gurian‘s who describes a night long workshop : Thoughts on Shirley Clarke and The TP Videospace Troupe, that contains also this citation from an interview with her published in Radical Software (New York: Gordon and Breach, Science Publishers, Inc.; Vol. II, No. 4, 1973) p. 27.
“Well, one unique capability of video is that we are able to put many different images from many different camera and playback sources into many different places and into many separate spaces (monitors) and we can see what we are doing as we are doing it. We need to develop better motor connections among our eyes and our hands and bodies—we need balance and control to move our images from monitor to monitor or pass our camera to someone else. But mainly we need the skill to see our own images in our own monitors and at the same time see what everyone else is doing. We need to acquire the ability to see in much the same way that a jazz musician can hear what he is playing and at the same time hear what the other musicians are doing and together they make music.”

In Noël Burch and André S. Labarthe’s documentary Rome is Burning: A Portrait of Shirley Clarke from 1970, you can see her talk (Yoko Ono, among others is listening) about the power of the camera (the eye) – Is this reality? – feminism? (7 min. extract)

Complete 53 min on vimeo.

*Clarke’s workshops revolved around nondirected, open-ended play—of the kind Game Studies would call “paratelic,” as distinguished from goal-oriented or “telic” play.“… “adaptive play systems that allowed participants to develop methods for coping and surviving in the world by proposing that error could be enabling and, even, fun and enjoyable
Beth Capper (2013) Ultimate Participation Video: Shirley Clarke’s Tee Pee Video Space Troupe, Art Journal, 72:1, 46-63.

Filed under: Articles / Texts, Of interest, performance, Video, , , ,

empathy and intimacy in networked performances

propinquity, cross-reality, tele-presence, synaesthesia, ideasthesia

After reading Frans de Waal’s book on The Bonobo and the Athesist, I wondered if it would help me to better understand what is happening in networked webcam performance thinking about it in terms of empathy. So I wrote a status :

Would “empathy” be a word to describe what is needed (put at stake) in networked webcam performances?
The discussion this triggered made me realise a lot had happened since we organised the CyPosium in 2012. There seems to be a very lively bunch of people, with new approaches and ways of thinking, working in this field.

Participants :
Suzon FuksWaterwheel platform
Daniel Pinhero and Lisa Parra of LAND project
Helen Varley JamiesonUpstage platform
Ienke Kastelein artist – performer
Martina Ruhsam performer – choreographer
Michael Baird musician
Roger Mills director of ethernet orchestra
Randall Packer of
Sara Malinarich from the Intact project
Jason Crouch of Contact Manchester
Jesse Ricke of CultureHub New York.

I screencaptured the whole thread and post it here as 12 .jpg’s. (interesting links to videos, discussions, academic approaches and practice)

























The propinquity effect is the tendency for people to form friendships or romantic relationships with those whom they encounter often, forming a bond between subject and friend. Feeling close in networked performance might depend on “the percieved feedback”.

The public can’t be an object/subject for empathy, there are too many different people inside it – empathic skills projected on a public easily become manipulative, become something else.

Physical distance between the persons performing and also between them and the persons watching does allow for intimacy in a very special way. Maybe the intimacy is even connected to a shared sense of awkwardness that the situation implies.

Empathy is a quality, a capacity of one person (as is intelligence, sensibility), not something between persons / it is the capacity “a receptiveness to the rhythms, energy, utterances of the other person” – it is a prerequisite for intimacy.

Rather than empathy it’s about a process of increasing synaesthesia.

What telepresents CAN NOT be present, but we cling stubbornly to this utopia. (Jorge Ruiz Abanades)

Maybe one day there will be another CyPosium …

Filed under: performance, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

precursor of The Big Kiss


A The Big Kiss avant l’internet : A few days ago Randall Packer pointed me to what might be a precursor to my piece The Big Kiss from 2007. In his article Videofreex Chronicles #1: TV as Social Media he shows an image (by Deedee Halleck) of Explorations in the Videospace, Part I from 1974. It’s a splitscreen kiss performed by Nam June Paik and Shirley Clarke. The technical design is by David Cort of the Videofreex.

I am surprised and wondering if I would have been able to make The Big Kiss if I had know about it. Would it have been appropriation? And would I have been bothered by copyrights? Now, I know about it, I want to see these videos / TV images – do they still exist? Where to look for them?

I also found this one on pinterest posted by Rachel McBrinn. I wrote her and she answered that she pinned the image from, which is now not a registered domain and didn’t know anything about the image.Nam June Paik Shirley Clarke Kissing - David Cort installation.

Andrew Ingall, the curator of Videofreex: The Art of Guerrilla Television at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz reacted in a twit to my call for more info : @annieabrahams @ShirleyClarke Not aware of video documentation of Cort’s exhibition at The Kitchen. Read more here:

And so I googled “David Cort The Kitchen” and found another same image with a Greek text that google translated : “In this Polaroid, the Nam June Paik and Shirley Clarke trying to kiss in an installation created by David Cort (the Kitchen, 1974). See. Pleasure Palace Theater of the Future.” So I have to look for an installation in an exhibition in 1974.

A few days later again I found the same image on a blogpost by DeeDee Halleck, and it turns out she was indeed the one who made the photo.

When looking further into Shirley Clarke’s video practice (Shirley Clarke – Is this reality?) I found that was an archival website on her workshops made by Beth Capper. When I wrote Beth, she told me she couldn’t help, but that I should ask Andrew Gurian, a member of the videospace troupe, who gave her a scan of the photo.

So I wrote Andrew Gurian. He told me he owns what he thinks is the original Polaroïd, made by David Cort himself.
At David’s show–really more an on-going installation–the live video images of two people, sitting on opposite sides of the room, were combined into one by a special effects generator or similar device, as you can see in the photo. If I recall correctly, David was present and had a Polaroid camera. He snapped photos of any of the show participants who wanted one as a souvenir. I believe the photo is question is one such example.
David Cort is very ill and cannot be joined, maybe, maybe Tom Colley of the Video Data Bank, in Chicago may have more information; the Video Data Bank now has the archives of the Videofreex. Continues …


Filed under: Of interest, , , , , ,

Le principe d’incertitude


Annie Abrahams, Le principe d’incertitude
Texte de Gaspard Bébié-Valérian apparu dans la rubrique Lignes de Front de La conjuration des drones MCD #78 pages 12-13. .pdf sur le site d’Agnès de Cayeux.

C’est rare, très rare, un article sur son travail qui fait réfléchir, qui met le doigt là où tu n’as pas encore pu le mettre toi-même, qui formule une pensée dont tu peux être certaine qu’elle va t’accompagner encore un temps. Un jour Maria Chatzichristodoulou m’avait fait ce cadeau et aujourd’hui c’est Gaspard Bébié-Valérian qui prend sa suite. Merci beaucoup Gaspard.

Gaspard Bébié-Valérian est directeur artistique d’Oudeis, un laboratoire pour les arts numériques, électroniques et médiatiques. Il est aussi artiste sous le nom d’Art-Act (avec Sandra Bébié-Valérian).

“Néanmoins, ce principe d’incertitude devient un choix politique dans une époque où tout est programmé et prévu à plus ou moins long terme. Le principe d’incertitude est aussi cette qualité à reconnaître la fragilité, la possibilité d’une défaillance dans une situation donnée. Et c’est la beauté, l’intérêt porté au travail d’Annie Abrahams : réintroduire de la fragilité, de l’incertain dans un monde précalculé. La chair, les fluides et l’excès redeviennent des facteurs esthétiques, formels introduits au sein du virtuel. Adieu donc figures mythologiques de la dématérialisation et des corps aseptisés, enveloppes transperçables et spectrales. Le corps hurle, transpire, hésite, respire, cherche l’autre, peut-être dans un ordonnancement, mais imprévisible.”

couverture MCD #78

Filed under: Articles / Texts, , , , ,

besides, the city is not a tree – #6pmeu

objectsMoney6PMeu besides, the city is not a tree

July 22, 6pm (CET). A  performance by Annie Abrahams and Martina Ruhsam.
In collaboration with OUDEIS, laboratoire pour les arts numériques, électroniques et médiatiques in Le Vigan, France. Live documentation and reactions via
Streaming Ivan Chabanaud / Duration around 20 min.

A follow-up of Martina and Annie’s Turbulence commission besides, the person I am becoming.

On Object Agency. Collected words and objects – overheard phrases, poetry, academic citations, a piece of concrete, foam, money, a lamp. What if objects ? …

For besides, the person I am becoming, for one month we collected text – overheard phrases, poetry, magazine, academic citations and objects. While preparing we decided the objects should not be personal, not be too beautiful, as ordinary, casual, daily as possible. We wanted the objects to act as much as the words we selected from our collection. This resulted in what Igor Stromajer called a “theory-meditation“. For besides, the city is not a tree we want to try out another more narrative version of the text collection, to speed up the rhythm and to see what meaning might arise from such a text object layering.

Event in the frame of 6PM Your Local Time Europe: a distributed contemporary art exhibition, taking place all over Europe in art institutions, galleries and artist studios at the same time, and documented online under the same hashtag.

Watch the performance here : While watching, please post images, text and videos on your Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #6pmeu. The images feed will be transmitted in real time to

6PM Your Local Time is curated by Fabio Paris for Link Art Center. More information

Filed under: Event, performance, , , , , , ,

Catalog Stadtgalerie Mannheim


Recieved the catalog Stadtgalerie Mannheim 2011 – 2015.
Editor Benedikt Stegmayer, Stadtgalerie Mannheim.
Published by Einraumhaus c/o Verlag
ISBN: 978-3-944128-50-4.
On page 65 there are two photos from the presentation of the video from The Big Kiss, a performance with Mark River, MTAA from 2008.
In the show Subversive Systeme, curated by the editor, this video was presented in the vicinity of a video by epidemiC, where Franco Berardi (Italian Media Philosopher) reads the source code of the “I LOVE YOU” virus at the D-I-N-A (Digital Is Not Analog) digital art festival.
I love the combination.
Thanks Benedikt.

Filed under: Articles / Texts, , , , , , , ,

besides, – 3 online performances

Annie Abrahams and Martina Ruhsam.

June 11 2015 : besides, the person I am becoming. Duration 20 minutes. The audience can interact via a chatwindow.

June 12 2015 : besides, moved by some thing. An intimate conversation on death and illness. Duration undetermined. No interaction with the public.

June 13 2015 : besides, Dear Body, Duration 3 minutes. With public chatwindow, so we can discuss afterwards.

19h CET – 1pm EDT – online
Streaming Ivan Chabanaud /

Three online experiments by Annie Abrahams and Martina Ruhsam, who will investigate the performative potential of computer-mediated performance. By listening to each other´s gestures (in a visual and acoustic sense) they will choreograph each other despite being geographically far away from each other – Annie will be in Montpellier, Martina in Berlin. More information (motivation, preparations, intentions, context, tests, images, bios)

besides, Dear Body,

besides, moved by some thing

besides, the person I am becoming

everything is on-the-fly, we don’t rehearse, we prepared technics and format together, content is taken care of individually – nothing can go wrong – we create experience … an encounter with the invisible public

Filed under: performance, , , , , , , , ,

DOEK – archéologie des médias

secondeNature 19 mai, 19h, vernissage Archéologies des médias Exposition du 20 mai au 28 juin 2015 – mercredi au samedi de 14h à 18h Seconde Nature 27 Rue du 11 Novembre 13100 Aix-en-Provence

organisé par PAMAL, unité de recherche de l’École Supérieure d’Art d’Avignon

Y sera présenté le second original du logiciel DOEK fait par Jan de Weille en 1993/94 pour me faciliter la gestion de mon travail de peinture. Assez vite je l’utilisais aussi pour faire des dessins d’ordinateur indépendants. De ce logiciel il ne nous restait que 150 pages du listing rédigé en langage C. Grâce à Axel Airo-Farulla, Léo Battesti, Maxime Beau et Jérome Padilla, tous en licence pro à l’IUT de Arles, PAMAL est parvenu à réactiver le logiciel sur une machine Amiga 500. Dessins, constructions et murals fait avec la version première entre 1994 et 1996 à partir de


Filed under: Exhibition, , , ,


* Separation url presented in MTAA’s 10 Physical Bookmarks For Vintage Net Art Made Before Facebook (BF-2004), September 12, 2015, 12pm – 8pm, Internet Yami-Ichi: New York.
* 26/9 vivre entre - from estranger to e-stranger, Presentation - performance, festival Ouverture(s) / Overture(s), The Magdalena Project, Montpellier.
* November - December Residency unaussprechbarlich, Villa Waldberta, Munich.
* 28/11 besides, ... Online performance on Object Agency with Martina Ruhsam for pixxelpoint 2015.

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Opening Event Mie lahkoo pomagate

Opening Event Mie lahkoo pomagate

Opening Event Mie lahkoo pomagate

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Annie Abrahams

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