net art, video, performance

Annie Abrahams

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 postREALITY.tv
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)

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After the discussion we started a closed facebook group. If you are interested, please ask to join us, you are very welcome.

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 …

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Annie Abrahams
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