net art, video, performance

Annie Abrahams

Live or Faked.

Theme Song Revisited – After Acconci will be screened during the ISEA2012 Latin American Forum on the 22nd of September.

I found some notes on the piece and on Low Lives (published on New Media Curating mailing list) that I would like to share here again :

“One of the important things about Low Lives, is that it tries to open up webperformances to the regular art world and on the other side may help regular performance artists think about what is specific about performing using streaming. This means the festival contains a lot of performance that only sees it as a performance venue, but there are also some exceptions.

Last year I did a performance called Theme Song Revisisted – After Acconci. Acconci at the time when he made Theme Song reflected in this work on the difference between cinema and video (on the intimate qualities of video) in a time artists started using video, but when videoart in galleries and museums wasn’t accepted yet. By taking Acconci’s protocol and adding just a layer on the image with my telephone numbers I tried to stress the difference in communication possibilities between 1964 and 2011. Unlike Acconci I was available directly for contact, the public just had to call me and I would show my face, start a live conversation with who ever might call. To my surprise nobody called but my friend Helen Varley Jamieson when the performance was almost over. Of course, I thought later (and reading Sherry Turkle’s book “Alone Together” confirmed this) telephone has become an intimate, almost private and dangerous way to contact people.

This example illustrates an important issue in webperformance: Is it live? Isn’t it faked? Yes this time it was life.
But does it make a difference? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I have assisted in webperformances that turned out to be videos. I didn’t bother me because I believed in the story and it could have been live (fake glitches, time lapses etc. were carefully mounted in the video)
In my own work it always does make a difference. This is because I don’t tell stories, but do research :).  At the same time you can find lot of videos of my performances online. Why not? Some are proof or witnesses; some have the status of stand-alone videos others of remixes or even cinema. They are as real as the performance moments were, but they exist in a different conceptual frame and serve other goals.
Because in these performances the performers control their own image, a performance can also be staged as a live production of a video, and sometimes I think that this might be the only thing that makes it different from reality TV, but that is another subject.

For me the most important aspect of the live issue is the way it relates to control and power. Life performance always means accepting to show one’s own vulnerability, it includes the possibility of mistakes, errors, breaks, failure, etc. This absence of total control leads to extra excitement for the public (whether online or offline)”

When I showed the video of the performance in the show Training for a Better World in the CRAC in Sète, I had about two to three calls a week of amazed people checking if I really used my own phone numbers – Will people  call me again during this screening at ISEA?”

Cinzia Cremona, PhD student at the University of Westminster, London. asked me some questions about this piece by mail and on that occasion I wrote her another detail : “to be honest – I also wanted to play with my age. Giving the public only my voice and skin and then suddenly appearing as an older lady – I thought might de-stabilize my caller and so give the whole some extra “pepper” / I thought this augmented it’s potential to reveal honest human behaviour. It was a way to go against stereo types.”

More info on the Low Lives presentation at ISEA :

A selection of videos from the Low Lives networked performance series will be screened during the ISEA2012 Latin American Forum. The program includes performance videos from 30 international artists as they were streamed live.

Theme Song Revisited (After Acconci) 22 septembre à ISEA

Annie Abrahams / Lukas Avendaño / Tzitzi Barrantes / Profesor Bazuco a.k.a. Juan Obando / Black & Jones / Vienne Chan / Joseph DeLappe / dev01ded / Michelle Ellsworth / The Emerge Collective / Ursula Endlicher / Francesca Fini / Julie Fotheringham + Jarryd Lowder / Nathaniel Katz + Valentina Curandi / Kelly Kleisnschrodt / Elizabeth Leister / Jonathan Lemieux / Kristin Lucas / Tutu-Marambá, Pesquisas das Artes do Corpo / Marcello Mercado / Irvin Morazan + Maya Jeffereis / Kenya (Robinson) / Tara Raye Russo / Marisol Salanova / Rosa Sanchez + Alain Baumann / Second Front / Carmen Sober / Alan Sondheim / Heather Warren-Crow / Martin Zet

Curator: Jorge Rojas, Founding Director of Low Lives.

Jorge Rojas will speak about Low Lives on Saturday, September 22 between 3-4pm at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

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Annie Abrahams
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