net art, video, performance

Annie Abrahams

Exercises in remote collaboration – Huis Clos / No Exit – (or, “how cyberformance reveals intimacy”)

by Annie Abrahams for ISEA 2011 Istanbul

In 2009 I started the artistic research project Huis Clos / No Exit. In this project I use a specially developed interface to unite several people remotely in a shared performance space that becomes subsequently both a laboratory and a playground. The performance experiences using this interface, suggest that today’s intimacy is no longer revealed through private images but through behaviour captured in real time interactions.

Nowadays, people use webcams to film themselves and to express their ideas and feelings to the unknown other that will look at their videoblog. People rarely use their web- or phonecam to talk to someone else. The use of Skype is either very business like or restricted to family members. In Internet applications as Chatroulette people rarely exchange more than a glance. What they look for is their alter ego or an opportunity.
In her book  “Alone Together” Sherry Turkle [1] describes how we hide more and more behind technology, how intimate communications start being something to avoid rather than to look for, how smartphones help us to flee our fear for the other, how we learn to control our relations via interfaces and how we are adapting our behaviour to this new situation.
Facebook teaches us how to simulate intimacy, how to make relations easy, clean, and without danger.  At the same time these relations also become superficial and makes us ask: Who are we when we don’t perform? Why can’t we show our vulnerable, messy sides? Why can’t I be boring and cherish solitude anymore?
In a society where authenticy and privacy become endangered it is important to find ways to access our vulnerabilities and doubts, to make them public, to cherish our messy side, to make place for the beast in the beauty, to go back to reality, to claim the human.

In 1998 I worked with at least 8 other French artists, I never met, on a collaborative website called lieudit.org . The site and the collective died in 2000 but I still have very nice memories of for instance our IRC rendez-vous during the launches of the virtual exhibitions we organised. Collaborating in a shared website was very stimulating, but in the end we couldn’t find a common goal to make us negotiate better our differences and so we split up. It was very frustrating to learn that behind our machines we couldn’t overcome these political and philosophical and emotional differences, that problems were exaggerated and stayed insurmountable.

This was the first time I noticed that collaboration using machine wasn’t easier, maybe not more difficult either, but different from ordinary face to face communication. Later experiences with online collaborative creation interfaces as for instance Furtherfield’s VisistorsStudio confirmed this.

So when in the early 2000 people started talking, dreaming and glorifying the advantages of Internet collaborations, I was very doubtful and somewhat vexed and decided to start thinking about how to use the recently developed streaming interface of panoplie.org for working on these problems. (1)

In telematic performances intimacy is not there where you think it is. The Big Kiss performed with Mark River (of MTAA) in New York in 2007 [2]  might have looked as an intimate performance, but in fact it was closer to a “drawing à deux” session than to a real kiss. (even if it did awake intimate feelings as drawing on paper of a kiss might have done too). In the telematic performance “One the puppet of the other” with Nicolas Frespech (Paris 2007) [3], we felt most intimate, most close together when we didn’t exchange, when we were waiting, when nothing happened.

In 2008 I started Huis Clos / No Exit :  A networked performance series investigating collaboration  at a distance – the project was also about relational dynamics in a dispersed group. [4]  With an interface developed by Clément Charmet (panoplie.org) and Estelle Senay (x-réseaux – Théâtre Paris Villette) I could unite the images and sounds of the webcams of up to 6 participating performers in a mosaic. The physically separated performers could share borders and interaction surfaces in a common virtual space and become co-responsible for the mosaic image projected in front of the public during performances. At all times they had this same mosaic image on their screen.

A first experiment took place in November 2008 in the International Laboratory Interactive digital media on stage organized by NU2′s in L’Animal a l’Esquena, in Celrà, Spain. In one of the tests I asked three performers to execute a protocol that stated that, before leaving the performance interface they were to compliment the others after having insulted them. It was strange and beautiful to see how they couldn’t stop complimenting and saying nice things to another. Later I became more and more aware of how the performance interface, besides allowing observation of behaviour in collaboration and auto-organisation, can also reveal private, intimate behaviour to the public. The cyberperformers are so occupied by their interactions, that they don’t have time to negotiate their image as they mostly do on the Internet.

I talked about machine-mediated  revelation of intimacy in an interview with Maria Chatzichristodoulou published in Digimag in Oct 2010. [5]

I always look for situations that make any attempt at escaping from exposure impossible. In general I do not rehearse my pieces. If this is necessary –for instance, due to technical reasons­– I write new protocols for the final performance. I try to find ways to penetrate the other performer –just for a second I want them to expose themselves to me (and to our observers) in an action, or a response, that is out of their control. I want them to unveil something they usually hide or only disclose in situations of complete trust, of complete intimacy. I want to know how they function, not by them telling me, but by me almost forcing them to reveal an instance of their ‘hidden code’ in public. I want us to go beyond self-representation and the control that this requires. Am I really forcing them to do this?… No I am not. What happens is that the situation in itself –that is, the telematic performance interface, the protocols, the flaws in the streaming connections– rewrites the conditions of communication in a way that makes this revelation possible, if not inevitable.”

Because I think we need to counterbalance the tendencies to make our Internet-mediated relations cleaner, faster and more and more secure I started paraphrasing Rancière “The real needs to be trapped in order to be available for thought”. [6] (2)

Notes

(1) From 2006 – 2009 I organised with panoplie.org the Breaking Solitude and later the Double Bind webperformance series . While they started out as performances around the idea of the internet as a public space of solitude they became more and more involved with experimenting “different ways of being together” What can we share, what do we share, how are we interacting and what is this technology doing to us? http://2008.panoplie.org/2008.panoplie.org/#//DoubleBind

(2) Because the Huis Clos / No Exit interface makes people film their own image, a collaborative cyberformance using it can also be staged as a live production of  an autonomous video, available for reflexion. http://bram.org/huisclos/toutvabien/indexang.html

References

[1] Sherry Turkle, “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other” (New York: Basic Books, 2011).

[2] Annie Abrahams, “The Big Kiss”, 2007, http://www.bram.org/toucher/TBK.html (accessed September 7, 2011).

[3] Annie Abrahams, Nicolas Frespech, “One the puppet of the Other”, 2007, http://www.bram.org/confront/sphere/indexeng.html (accessed September 7, 2011).

[4] Annie Abrahams, “Huis Clos / No Exit”,  2009, http://bram.org/huisclos/indexang.html (accessed September 7, 2011).

[5] Maria Chatzichristodoulou, “Annie Abrahams, Allergic to utopias”, Digimag 58 October 2010, http://www.digicult.it/digimag/article.asp?id=1902 (accessed September 7, 2011).

[6] Rancière Jacques, Le Partage du sensible. Esthétique et politique (Paris: La Fabrique, 2000)

Panel : Intimate TV: Webcamming & Social Life-logging In the Surveillant-Sousveillant Space.
Chair: Paula Roush, Maria Lusitano
Presenters: Annie Abrahams, Margarida Carvalho, Cinzia Cremona, Eunice Gonçalves Duarte, Helen Varley Jamieson
Date: Sunday, 18 September, 2011 (13:00 – 14:30)
Location: Sabanci Center,  Room 3, Levent

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removal – double bind


I already watched Robin Nicolas‘s video removal several times since he made a .mov version available on they became what they beheld. Now you can also watch a fullscreen version on vimeo. It’s simply  beautifull.

Removal – deletion, suppression, cleaning, disappearance, withdrawal, ablation, expulsion, transfer, liquidation, remotion, clearance, elimination, eradication, purge, riddance, dismissal – The deconstruction of space in response to the release of voice

Start : I don’t know if you are with me, if you hear me, if ……………..hello can you hear me?……………….End : Mrs Robinson, do you hear me? Can you hear me? Are you reading my lips? Can you hear me? What are you doing? Why are you looking out of the window? I am trying to talk to you. I need you to hear me. And that was it. She just turns her head and starts looking out of the window, and that’s the end of my story, there is nothing else left. That is it. End of  story.

Removal is the video version of  Robins’ participation in the  Double Bind webperformance series of 2008 – 2009.
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As a biologist I learned Double Bind to be a situation with no exit, whatever one chooses one looses, and this leads to illogical, inhibited, ambivalent and misplaced behaviour. Double Bind is the result of conflicting cues about a particular situation. An animal that cannot decide between attack and flight is going to eat or scratch.
Does double bind describe our actual relation to technology?

I asked 6 artists to reflect on this and to propose a performance in the double webcam performance series on panoplie.org.

Surveiller Punir "Double Contraintes Foucault"Surveiller Punir “Double Contraintes Foucault” Pascal Lièvre reads a page of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish / Surveiller Punir, while attached to his friend Mathieu, who reads the same page. Their “échec” to read together in the same pace shows us the limitations of the machine power? Vidéo

Bras de tête et Tête de fer K.Kliniques, Justine Abittan et Caroline Delieutraz. They sing, cry, whisper their disconcerting foolishness while they try to be in one and the same space where there is not enough room for two, ignoring the empty space just besides.

julien plus agnèsPuzzled Julien Lassort, assisted by Agnès de Cayeux, shows a clown, a Pierrot, sensible, twofold, man and woman: robotised. Pierrots are generally know for their sadness and trusting naïveté, their oblivion to reality and their distant and moonstruck character.

renee turnerPostcards from her desktop Renee Turner cites Derrida : “I would like to write you so simply, so simply, so simply.”  Two simultaneous streams, a  RSS and  a mix of real-time transcription and pre-written material defied the transparent one to one relation between experience and language.

jean françois blanquetAuto/Hetero Jean-François Blanquet presents  two  heteronymes: jeanfrançois blanquet using his computer to find a job and  TITsANUS using his for fun. In the end the alternating presence of both of them seems to drive their author and the machines crazy.

The  Double Bind webperformance series of 2008 – 2009  was a follow-up of the Breaking Solitude series of 2007 – 2008 .

ps I am reading Double Bond the biography of Primo Levi by Carole Angier. “Something one cannot understand constitutes a painful void, a sting, a permanent stimulus that insists on being satisfied” Primo Levi, 1960.

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Context

“Between November 2006 and February 2008 I organized with panoplie.org two seasons of rendezvous on the web called “Breaking Solitude“, “different ways of being together”. 14 Artists accepted to do a performance in the experimental situation created in the virtual salon of panoplie.
Some features, such as time limits (between 5 and 20 minutes) and a refusal to pod cast the performances related these events to traditional contemporary art performances. Others like the participation of the public using a chat window made them to a new experience for both the artist and the public.
The performing artist was confronted to the brute and often emotional reactions of his public, which were not always as respectful as in art centres, museums and galleries.
The participating audience had the privilege to assist in a performance, to see and hear a person during an act of creation without having to subject to the social rites of the art world. The only thing that remains from the performance is its immediate feedback, the text written by the audience.

In this new season Breaking Solitude becomes Double Bind.

Is our relation to the computer and internet double bind, bound, bond?
I am your friend but you will never know me?
Remote presence, ubiquity, multiple personality, absence of the body? Does this make us schizophrenic? How do we adapt?”

Annie Abrahams September 2008.

Filed under: Curation, Of interest, Performance, , , , , , , , , , , ,

InstantS de Chester Katovic

Mercredi 10 Décembre / 14h36 :

- CHESTER.
- Putain ! Mais vous êtes qui ?
- “Vous êtes les derniers. Nous sommes les premiers.”
- Comment ça les derniers ?
- Chester, ça veut dire qu’il n’y a plus un chat sur la planète !!?
- “Si. Des chats, il y en a encore.”
- PUTAINNNNN !!!!!!
- PUTAIN DE PUTAIN!!!!!!!!

Du 25 nov. au 24 déc. Chester Katovic occupe les InstantS de panoplie.org

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Double Bind web performances

15 December 20h30 Paris time web performance in the Double Bind series of panoplie.org.

Renee Turner presents
Postcards from my desktop
rtscreen

“I would like to write you so simply, so simply, so simply.” **
Jacques Derrida, “The Postcard: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond.”

Postcards from my desktop is a performance mixing RSS news feeds and simultaneous transcription.  Sending snippets of communiqués across the ether, the work plays with interpretation, point of view and the imperfections of streaming technology.
Seeing the desktop as an exotic place where the world converges through RSS, the performance explores the limits of translation, immediacy and communication.

A video of this performance http://vimeo.com/4153597

Renée Turner writes digital narratives and has been a member of De Geuzen: a foundation for multi-visual research since 1996.  Her work can be viewed at http://www.geuzen.org/ and http://www.fudgethefacts.com/

Double Bind is initiated and organised by Annie Abrahams.

Surveiller Punir "Double Contraintes Foucault"Oct. 20th.  Pascal Lièvre: Surveiller Punir “Double Contraintes Foucault” Vidéo


Nov. 17th.  K.Kliniques, Justine Abittan et Caroline Delieutraz : “Bras de tête et Tête de fer

julien plus agnès
Dec. 1st.  Julien Lassort : “Puzzled” Avec l’assistance d’Agnès de Cayeux.

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Rhizome Commissions 08

Rhizome Commissions ‘08
New Media Presentation / Discussion – Part of New Silent
Saturday, October 11th 2008 at 3pm
the New Museum, New York, NY

The last in a three-part series that features presentations by artists awarded grants through Rhizome’s Commissions Program. Founded in 2001 to support artists working with technology, the Rhizome Commissions Program has awarded fifty-four commissions to date. Projects realized through the Program represent some of the most forward-thinking and innovative works of media and Internet-based art. In this evening’s program, the artists will discuss their commissioned projects and larger bodies of work.

This event features Annie Abrahams, Fritz Donnelly, John Craig Freeman, Will Pappenheimer, Lee Walton, Marek Walczak, and Martin Wattenberg.

New Museum, 235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002, 212.219.1222
$6 Members, $8 General Public
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DEP tube generator

In Mon robot est un artiste panoplie.org presents, together with other artistic robots by Paul Granjon, Igor Stromajer / Brane Zorman and Will Work For Food, a trendy version of  DEP (Deun Ex Pagina) the tube generator made by Jan de Weille.

DEP (Deun means tune in Dutch) composes tunes based on hazard, musical rules and the parameters that you enter in a web form.

Listen to some sound pieces produced by DEP or DEM (Deun Ex Machina) like Tingel Blues.mp3 or Kicks.

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

Upcoming

* 22/05 - 25/05 Performance dans le cadre de LADYBUG, Le Lavoir Public Lyon
* 20/10 - 4/11 2014 Mie Lahkoo Pomagate? (can you help me?) show at Axioma Ljubljana.

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