net art, video, performance

Annie Abrahams

more precursors – a kisstory

You can make a story of telematic communication by looking at how people experiment with distanced kissing over time. Can you?

Kit-Sherrie-composite-kiss_edit_a3txt_150_dc(Image from the collections of Galloway & Rabinowitz)

In 1975, five years before their groundbreaking Hole-in-Space piece, Sherrie Rabinowitz and Kit Galloway used a selfmade experimental setup in the Sony Salon on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. Kit had a key and so they could use it after the opening hours of the showroom.
Kit and Sherrie did a lot of “Aesthetic Research in Telecommunications.” When I visit the website that documents this, I recognize they discovered and practiced probably all formal possibilities of being together in a composite image space. A feast of recognition.
They used split-screen, key images, life tv-footage and sometimes props. In what they called the space with no geographical borders they wanted to get rid of all borders, the split-screen border included and the above image of their kiss is an excellent example of the sensuality the merging of image-ambassadors can provoke.

Later this technique was used by Paul Sermon in Telematic Dreaming, a ISDN digital telephone installation from 1993. Nowadays, Daniel Pinheiro in Will you dance with me?! (2017) starts working in this direction. Station House Opera (among others) in 2016 was also using this technique in the At Home in Gaza and London performance project.

A Telematic Kissing Timeline?

  • Early twentieth century Telegraphic Kiss. (postcard see at the bottom)
  • 1938 Facsimile telegraph transmission kiss (article in Popular Mechanics )
  • 1957 Jerry Lewis and Celeste Holm split-screen kiss – live via terrestrial microwave linked TV. Image, info, video here.
  • 1974  Nam June Paik and Shirley Clarke splitscreen kiss – technical design of the installation by David Cort of the Videofreex. Image, info here.
  • 1975 Kit Galloway, and Sherrie Rabinowitz composite image space, using Sony Salon technology – In 1977 they start experimenting with satelite transmission.
  • 2007 Annie Abrahams and Nicolas Frespech, One the puppet of the other, live split-screen internet performance.
  • 2008 Annie Abrahams and Mark River The Big Kiss. Durational performance in an split-screen installation.
  • 2011 “Kissenger” the world’s only kiss transfer device.
  • 2014 Lancel and Maat develop E.E.G. Kiss, a tentative to device a communal kiss.
Facsimile-KISS_Pop-Mecs_5-1938Image from the collections of Galloway & Rabinowitz  1938 http://blog.modernmechanix.com/telegraph-kisses-are-new-fad/
telegraphickisspostcard
Telegraphic Kiss Postcard – early twentieth century. https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/tag/vice/
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precursor of The Big Kiss

In 2017

HalleckKiss

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 2008. 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 teepeevideospacetroupe.org, 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: amzn.to/1I9citt.

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 teepeevideospacetroupe.org 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 …

labise

In 2017 Kit Galloway pointed me to other precursors. Here is the timeline / the kisstory that resulted from that.

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A dark mirror from Paik to Abrahams and Deck Oh Yeah!

For us the most interesting of Paik’s contemporary artistic cousins demonstrate that technology and art are both not only mirrors for reflecting back reality, but also hammers for shaping and, perhaps, compost for seeding it. That is, its objects, its infrastructure, visions, behaviors, and relations; these things are about us understanding the world and shaping it. They all point to a new understanding of individual, collective, and species level agency as artists and tool makers in this network of things.

Ruth Catlow in a transcription of her speech (pdf)The Future Is Now: Media Arts, Performance and Identity after Nam June Paik, Nam June Paik Conference, FACT and Tate Liverpool, Friday 18 February 2011.

Now published in Far and Wide, Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Volume 19 Issue 5
ISBN: 978-1-906897-21-5   ISSN: 1071-4391
The catalog is a project by Lanfranco Aceti and Omar Kholeif with the support of FACT.

Filed under: Articles / Texts, , , ,

Upcoming

* 28/10 L’entrelangue à trois, Espace o25rjj, Loupian.
* 01/11 19h Paris time – online Apparatus_is {Other-s} Readingclub session for SCRIPTING THE OTHER.
* 09-12/11 Unaussprechbarlich, Frauen-Theater-Festival Theater Antagon, Frankfurt.
* 4-9/12 Qu(o)i <=> agence <=> Quand Résidence Labo NRV Subsistances, Lyon.

* 29/03 15h30 Online En-semble – Entanglement Training with Antye Greie, Helen Varley Jamieson, Soyung Lee, Hương Ngô, Daniel Pinheiro and Igor Stromajer, School of Art, Design & Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

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Annie Abrahams
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