net art, video, performance

Annie Abrahams

Lunch Bites

Maria X and Chris Newell

Location: Space 7, Culture Lab, Grand Assembly Rooms, King’s Walk, Nexcastle, UK
Starts: Wednesday, 18th May 2011 at 12:00
Finishes: Wednesday, 18th May 2011 at 13:00

Lunch Bites is a series of hour-long lunchtime conversations, hosted in Space 7, Culture Lab at Newcastle University,  featuring local and visiting thinkers and creators.

Maria Chatzichristodoulou (aka Maria X) will be presenting “Allergic to Utopias: The work of Annie Abrahams“, followed by Christopher Newell’s “Silence, sounds and slips – enhanced communication through miscommunication”.

Allergic to Utopias: The work of Annie Abrahams by Dr Maria Chatzichristodoulou [aka Maria X]

“What makes for a liveable world is no idle question. It is not merely a question for philosophers. Somewhere in the answer we find ourselves not only committed to a certain view of what life is, and what it should be, but also of what constitutes the human (…).” (Butler 2004,  17) “Annie Abrahams: In fact, all my work emanates from one big question: how can we live in a world that we don’t understand?” (Chatzichristodoulou 2010, n/p) Maria’s presentation will explore the work of French-based pioneer of networked performance art, Annie Abrahams, to suggest that, unlike a plethora of other technologised practices, Abrahams’s work resists the celebration of utopic notions of technologies of connectivity and interactivity. Instead, its focus is on broken links and miscommunications: that is, the failures of both technological and human connectivity. Maria will argue that the acceptance of failure as an element that is embedded in the make-up of the networks is what renders Abrahams’s Internet embodied and visceral, “an Internet of emotions.” (Catlow 2010, n/p). She will further argue in favour of “banality” as a characteristic of Abrahams’s work ­ this banality is not the safe zone of intimacy identified by Dominic Johnson (2010 n/p), but a far more troubling manifestation of it. Finally, she will suggest that Abrahams belongs to a generation of female artists who seek to challenge their very artistic medium.

Maria Chatzichristodoulou [aka Maria X] is a cultural practitioner (curator, performer, producer, writer). Maria holds a PhD in Art and Computational Technologies from Goldsmiths Digital Studios, University of London. She is Director of Postgraduate Studies and Lecturer in Theatre and Performance at the School of Arts and New Media, University of Hull. Previously, Maria taught at the University of London Colleges Goldsmiths, Birkbeck and Queen Mary, and Richmond the American International University, and worked as a Community Officer at The Albany in South London. She was co-founder of the international media arts festival Medi@terra and co-director of Fournos Centre for Digital Culture (1996-2002, Athens, Greece). She has performed with Diplous Eros Ensemble and director Syllas Tzoumerkas (also in Athens, Greece). Maria is co-editor of the volume Interfaces of Performance (Ashgate, 2009) and the forthcoming volume Intimacy Across Visceral and Digital Performance (Palgrave MacMillan), which follows the Intimacy festival and Symposium that Maria initiated and co-directed in London (2007). She has lectured and published widely, including invited lectures at MIT, Yale University and Georgia Institute of Technology (USA).

Silence, sounds and slips – enhanced communication through miscommunication by Dr Christopher Newell

In this short demonstration, miscommunication and broken links (themes developed by Maria X) are manipulated to form indicators of ‘liveness’ in the context of computer generated speech. By mapping artificial speech artefacts to Mori’s ‘Uncanny Valley’ (Mori 1970) new paradigms for the design of ‘bad’ artificial voice actors, that celebrate disconnects and banality may emerge.

Christopher Newell is an opera director and computer scientist. As an opera director he has directed at a number of the major UK opera companies including Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. In 2011 he directs Co Opera Co in a touring production of Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute.’ As a computer scientist his principal interest is in computer generated voices. His work has been published in speech science journals and performing arts journals and he has presented at AI and Post Humanism conferences. In 2012 he has research leave to write an interdisciplinary book entitled ‘Computers as Voice Actors: An interdisciplinary perspective on talking machines” with Roger Moore of the Sheffield University Speech and Hearing Research Group. He is Academic Director of iHull; Institute for Creativity and Innovation at the University of Hull and an Honorary Research Fellow in the HCI group in the computer science department at the University of York. He currently holds a Wingate Scholarship to develop a radio melodrama for computer voices. With Alistair Edwards at York he is leading an EPSRC funded network in Creative Speech Technology (CreST). More information

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Annie Abrahams
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