net art, video, performance

Annie Abrahams

distributed intelligence on the fly?

It felt as closely observing a test tube in an internet ecology experiment.

I finally watched the video of our performance Online En-semble – Entanglement Training. It was so nice and touching to hear the voices, to listen to the the different soundqualities and latencies, to see the changing pixelations and environments. It was interesting to observe how the performers act, react, respond, with objects, sounds and words and find ways to co-create with each other and the machines.

Screenshot-2018-5-12 Online-Ensemble - Entanglement Training

Near the end we had 5 minutes of silently being together online. Helen didn’t get the sign for the end and continued alone.

It was also very engaging to see the audience chatting life during the performance. Randal Packer called this a non-stop flow of online viewer commentary: a simultaneous litany of questions, responses, digressions, and interjections in Power to the Viewer, the article he wrote after his Art of the Networked Practice symposium, where this performance was a part of.

Here are some citations of the chat log that particularly stroke me today:

Alan Sondheim: There’s an odd calmness here, as if they’re dream images or freud’s magic slate at work

Jessica Laraine Williams: I almost feel as if we are neural nets being trained with various iterants of standard objects, as a reference library. The repetitive verbal cues sound like training signals

Martina Ruhsam: as if they would imagine this performance that just happened in their mind

ximena: what are they listening to?
Maria Chatzichristodoulou: silence?
Jessica Laraine Williams: the space in between
Jessica Laraine Williams: white noise
Randall Packer: silence
Jan R 2: they are listening to us
Ng Wen Lei: 4’33
Johannes Birringer: lovely, a telematic re-performance

Maria Chatzichristodoulou: it is interesting that Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz were also talking about experiments rather than performances as such, and considered training, rehearsal and performance to be the same

I would love to do a follow-up, to continue this entanglement training. I propose to keep this messy never ending unperfect strange conversation going …. it would be an example, a test tube for developping our empathy muscles over distance, to exercice in distributed intelligence.

Entanglement Training Online performance by Annie Abrahams with Antye Greie, Helen Varley Jamieson, Soyung Lee, Huong Ngô, Daniel Pinheiro, Igor Stromajer. Thursday 29 of March 2018 in the frame of Art of the Networked Practice symposium.
All project info (photos, protocol, collected phrases, reactions etc.)


Filed under: networked performance, Performance, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

… building an empathy muscle …

Online-en-semble – Entanglement Training.

Huong Ngô: I really liked how the score was based on everyday movements, so close to those incidental images we make everyday when we are on Skype etc, but having us do it together really made it into something poetic and more like dance. I thought of Yvonne Rainer’s work. Also, I was thinking a lot about this promise of internationalist utopia that Maria talked about, and where we are in the world today – people becoming more extreme despite or because of technology. The distance that technology affords is something that we now must train our bodies against. I felt like the act of listening, patience, and trying to be present was a way to build that empathy muscle.

Rob Wittig : a wonderful performance today — tactile and musical and spooky and friendly and distant and close!

entanglement training
Images and photos on flickr
Performance protocol.pdf
Video :

From the chatlog (Complete Chat log 64 pages):
-Johannes Birringer: Karina, i learnt much from Corpos Informaticos, they used a whole different set of simple tools that i began to appreciate in many ways
-Daniel Perseguim: yes, Beatriz Medeiros from corpos informáticos are changing the ways of performing, learning expressing… the tools are the simple language, the failures, the “gambiarras”
-Alan Sondheim: there’s an odd calmness here, as if they’re dream images or freud’s magic slate at work
-Maria Chatzichristodoulou: yes Alan, i was thinking it’s a calming experience watching this
-Alan Sondheim: Calming in the midst of potential revolution, disturbance –
-Jessica Laraine Williams: I almost feel as if we are neural nets being trained with various iterants of standard objects, as a reference library. The repetitive verbal cues sound like training signals
-Alan Sondheim: there’s an economics at work
-Marc Garrett: It’s DIWO in realtime!
-Maria Chatzichristodoulou: it is interesting that Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz were also talking about experiments rather than performances as such, and considered training, rehearsal and performance to be the same

Filed under: networked performance, Performance, , , , , , , , , , ,

Training Entanglement with whom?

With amazing artists and machines, cables and you.


With Igor Stromajer, the pseudo-artist, who inspired me when in 2001 he started his famous Ballettikka Internettikka online performance series. We met in 2006, when he came to Montpellier to perform an Oppera Internettikka with me and a mezzo-soprano in the Opéra National de Montpellier Languedoc Roussillon. Over time we continued to collaborate actively in projects as The Big Kiss, Angry Women, HuisClos/No Exit and Beyond (spectacle) among others.

With Antye Greie (also known as AGF), a renowned composer, music producer, sound artist & curator, poet, feminist and activist, that I respect deeply. I performed 13 short performative conversational meetings online with her. We talked about html, wind, pixels, law, mothers, key frame, snow, philosophies, fruits, thinking and islands, humans and words, nuts, recording quality, law, shopping, wind, patriotism, love, ocean space, sound rate, communism, dancing, languages and salad, family and future. She also was a very active participant in the Angry Women project. We never met for real.

With Soyung Lee from South Korea who I never met for real neither, and with whom I never performed before. In 2016 I discovered her enchanting work Displaced when researching language practices and art. I tried to write about this hybrid performance and asked her some questions that are published here. Now she participates. Yes!

With Huong Ngô, an American artist, who I first met when I was in New York in 2010 for a Rhizome event and The Big Kiss performance with Mark River in OTO. Accidentally we met again some years later in Paris at an opening. We share an interest in the entanglement of language, identity and power relations and I admire the way she connects personal and political histories using a conceptual, interdisciplinary, and often collaborative approach. See for instance The Voice is an Archive or The Silent Period. Now we collaborate for the first time. Yes!

With Daniel Pinheiro, a Portugese video artist interested in telematics performance, who I met last summer in Porto where he participated in my ELO keynote performance Ours Lingages as singer, dancer and computer operator.  We had been collaborating before in the Distant Feeling(s), a tele-shared experience project (with also Lisa Parra), after I once participated in their LAND project. I especially appreciate the always very interesting observations and analyses he writes down. We will continue collaborating for sure.

With Helen Varley Jamieson, who coined the word cyberformance. I share a project called unaussprechbarlich and a book called Cyposium – the book with her. We had numerous online encounters in different online venues as for instance the Upstage platform, that she co-initiated. Helen is a feminist and a very fierce defender of the use of open-source software.

Many thanks to Randall Packer the symposium chair who made this possible!

Online En-semble – Entanglement Training
Live Online Performance Thursday, 29 March 2018, 7am-10am CDT / 8am-11am EDT / 2pm-5pm CEDT / 8pm-11pm SGT
In the frame of Art of the Networked Practice | Online Symposium – Social Broadcasting: an Unfinished Communications Revolution, School of Art, Design & Media, Nanyang University, Singapore (29 – 31 March 2018, a collaboration between the School of Art, Design & Media, Singapore; LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore; and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Department of Performance, USA).

Filed under: Conference / lecture, Event, Performance, , , , , , ,

Online En-semble – Entanglement Training

Online En-semble – Entanglement Training.
Online performance with Annie Abrahams (NL/FR), Antye Greie (DE/FI), Helen Varley Jamieson (NZ/DE), Soyung Lee (KR), Huong Ngô (HK/USA), Daniel Pinheiro (VE/PT) and Igor Stromajer (SLO/DE)
In the frame of Art of the Networked Practice symposium, School of Art, Design & Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Chair by Randall Packer.


In this new work we investigate how to be together in a connected world, where machines and humans have to communicate accepting partial overviews, glitches, time-lags, disrupting audience participation and ensuing disorientations. Abrahams considers the intra-active webcam performance situation a good apparatus to train and demonstrate entanglement. She wrote a script for seven performers with different cultural backgrounds. They will defy their own and the others’ ideas on performance and online politics in a conversational performance. In order to avoid chit-chat and to get rid of the distracting images of the faces she proposes to converse using objects, prepared phrases and voices. During the performance they create together a changing composition with the objects and improvise a sound environment with their voices and phrases. Because they share the responsibility for the performances’ acoustic and visual appearance it will be interesting to see how they negotiate their individuality and personal thoughts in this environment where they all have equal power. Contradictions, maybe even oppositions, as well as poetry can emerge in this collectively created complexity, where machines facilitate but also prevent. The performers research the limits and possibilities of their own agency in an attempt to be “with” while being separated.

Program of the day:
8 pm SGT Introduction by Randall Packer.
8.15 pm SGT Maria Chatzichristodoulou keynote Live Art and Telematics: The Promise of Internationalism
9.30 pm SGT Online En-semble – Entanglement Training Live networked performance
10 pm SGT Post performance roundtable
This is Singapore time. Find your own time here.

How to connect for the performance (you will need 5 min to prepare).

Disentangling the Entanglements article on our preparations by Randall Packer

Web page with information about preparations, protocols, text, video, images and later the archives.

Latency Training.

Filed under: Performance, , , , , , , , , ,

Displaced – a conversation with Soyung Lee

148_sy-sequence-chi02Displaced by Soyung Lee is the documentation of a performance on the subject of dubbing different languages to explore the concept of social identities. I don’t really understand yet why it touches me so much – of course because it points to communities of people of different backgrounds, different languages, doing things together (Cantonese, English, Mandarin, and Tagalog) – it points to a place where English is not dominant.
Also because it’s made by amateurs and professionals, because it has a beautiful text at its base and because it talks about a very actual condition – the displacement – in a way we can all feel – because it unites me with them, with exiles, refugees, – and because it’s performance, cinema and theater all at once, it’s hybrid.

After having written a short entrance about the project on my e-stranger blog, I wrote Soyung an email with some questions. It was very interesting to read more about the background of her project and so I asked her if I could publish a slightly edited version of our exchange here.

AA: You announce the video on your website as documentation of a performance, but you edited the footing, so, in my opinion it became a video on its own – how do you see this?
SL: Yes, though it was a live performance, I wanted it, from the beginning when I was still planning the project, to also function as a video piece. Hence, I discussed how to document it with the cameraman, Benny, and we edited the multi-camera shots together. The length of the performance didn’t change much – the whole performance was about 11 to 12 min including short pauses between the scenes. I also thought about shooting the whole thing as a video series instead of a performance series, in which case, I could have controlled the details better by reshooting. But in the end, I preferred to try live dubbing when the performers speak in front of the audience.
For this piece, I didn’t change or edit too much since I wanted to keep the original flow of the performance. Usually, I take a much longer time editing and changing the order and playing with the rhythm when it’s video.

AA: Was the performance done in front of a public? As in theater? Is it something you would repeat?
SL: It was done in Cattle Depot Artist Village in Hong Kong in front of about 40-50 people. This site is a former cattle slaughter and under the care of the HK government. The residency (Videotage Fuse Residency) office was inside the village, and the first day I visited, I loved the backdrop of this setting.
I would like to repeat this performance, possibly in a theater, but with some changes in the script since this one is particularly related to Hong Kong’s current situations (see a bit further in this exchange), possibly in another country with diverse cultural codes.

AA: The numbers with the music, cuts up the performance in parts, makes it existing out of different scenes and so the result gets something from theater or cinema too – was there an equivalent in the performance or was the performance one event and did you change, edit it like this it later?
SL: I continue to experiment on how to incorporate or put layers that relate to cinema, theater, and performance in a single piece.
I’m interested in mixing professionals and non-professionals (usually migrant workers or minority groups) for I want the social misfits to be performers (not subjects) in my work.

AA: And why numbers?
SL: It might have been one of the easiest choices, I think now.  The script was written in 7 scenes. I do however think that I could have maybe used dates or other time breaks in between the scenes. Something to consider for the next piece.

AA: Why did you choose these particular languages? Because that’s what the performers spoke? And – did they all understand the four languages?
SL: I used Cantonese (that’s what the male actor, Donald, spoke) because it’s the main language Hong Kong people use. They are under the heavy pressure from China to use Mandarin in schools, so, people are afraid to lose Cantonese. The Filipino ladies – Marita, Merz, and Ever – who are domestic helpers in HK spoke Tagalog which is the most largely used language in the Philippines. The Hong Kong  actress, Cha, spoke Mandarin for some of the lines as she also speaks Mandarin reflecting HK’s current language shift from Cantonese and English to Mandarin. The Canadian performer, Kristy lives already for eight years in Hong Kong and works in Hong Kong Disneyland performing as Disney characters (usually princesses). Though she’s more interested in doing non-commercial performances, because of her visa. I very much enjoyed collaborating with all of them.
They didn’t understand all four languages and neither did I. All the meetings and workshops were held in English. I also discovered that written Cantonese and spoken Cantonese are quite different, so the subtitles and the spoken Cantonese were two different versions of translation.

AA: I adore your text, it’s strangeness, “directness”, emotion, humanity – just very curious – How, when did you write it? Do you write more? Can I find something more …
SL: Thank you. My residency period lasted about 2 and a half month, and I wrote the script after a month of researching in Hong Kong. There are about 320,000 domestic workers in Hong Kong (around 3 percent of Hong Kong’s population in 2013, according to South China Morning Post). Filipinos are the largest number reported to be the 50 percent of them. On the weekends, when they’re off work, they are out in parks and near subway stations because they need to be (or like to be) out of the houses when the families stay together. These ladies take care of the babies, house chores, and sometimes teach English to young kids. I also went to some interesting places in Hong Kong, such as horse races where majority of the crowd watching games seemed to be 50 and above white male and a couple of small islands where the local natives and foreigners live together. All of these scenes registered in mind before I started writing.
Korea is a developed country especially in terms of technology and fast wiring system of the Internet, but we are not quite multi-cultured. Most people speak Korean only, and though there are foreigners and migrant workers, they are not strongly recognizable as a part of Korean culture yet. Similarly, in Korea, people understand the concept of minority but most people don’t seem to capture how it feels to be a minority.
In such cities as Hong Kong, there are more layers in culture and languages, and that inspired me to write this piece.(1)
I also wanted to adapt a few lines from internationally popular novels and plays originally written in Chinese, Russian, and English. (2)
For other writings, I do write usually related to my video pieces or to the research projects. The last script I’ve written for the piece, “Fortress,” was more abstractly written in the very beginning with blank spaces for the actors to fill in. After several meetings and workshops, I added more lines and guidelines but still, the scenes that each actor talked about the idea of dream home and death are filmed with their improvised lines. A few of my colleagues, to whom I sent the original text, liked the first draft of the script, but I wanted to have the actors tell their own concept of “home” in their style of talking.

AA: Could you have made this piece before the internet area, before we all got connected by technology?
SL: I think, since you’ve asked this question, I started realizing how the Internet might have influenced making this piece because before this new era of viewing so much contents of media by streaming or downloading via youtube, vimeo, etc, translating languages and discovering media contents were much slower, and the multi-culture or multi-languages didn’t seem to happen simultaneously. Nowadays, we seem to be more okay with hearing different languages and became familiar with sounds of different languages other than our own or English(or Latin based languages). At the same time, an older media technique which is still quite commonly used such as dubbing technique became more intriguing for me in a sense why and how we can still use it as well as how we can distort such techniques for provoking different kinds discussions as what’s hidden in cracks and pausing moments.

(1) AA: I have a very personal question : Why are you so interested in the exile, the minority? Are you part of one?
SL: I went to the US when I was 14 and lived there for about 10 years as a minority. That was a big jump from a relatively comfortable identity to a very conflicted and confused one. I also had conversations with my Korean-American cousins and other minority friends about being misfits in communities. Then, I lived in London for about 6 months and returned to Korea. When I returned to where I once believed home, there were some other uneasiness in culture that I encountered. Spending a couple of years doing a research-based project on Korean diasporas in Central Asia also made me think a lot about resettlement. Though there are disturbing experiences and conflicts I sometimes include or mention in the work, my direction is towards the possibilities in migration and resettlement in the history of diasporas. The possibilities of sewing the conflicting identities together interest me and inspire some of the projects I’ve been working on and plan to produce.

(2) AA: In your text I only recognized Gertrud Stein and maybe something Shakespearean. The phrase of “the children never having eaten men” struck me as a citation too, but ….
SL: The plays and novels I used for the texts are: Romeo and Juliet  by William Shakespeare, Diary of a Madman by Nikolai V. Gogol, and A Madman’s Diary by Lu Xun.

Scene 3:
“Deny thy father and refuse thy name; or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a (Ponce)(3). ’Tis but thy name that is my enemy; thou art thyself, though not a (Chun)(3). What’s (Chun)(3)? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. O, be some other name!”
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet… doff thy name, and for that name which is no part of thee Take all myself.”
(Quoted from: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, Act II Scene II)
Scene 4:
“I have discovered that China and Spain are really one and the same country, and it’s only ignorance that leads people to think that they’re two different nations. If you don’t believe me, then try and write ‘Spain’ and you’ll end up writing ‘China’.”
(Quoted from: Diary of a Madman by Nikolai V. Gogol, p.193 in Madrid, 30th Februarius)
Scene 6:
“Perhaps there are still children who have not eaten men?”
“Save the children…”
Quoted from: A Madman’s Diary by Lu Xun)

I adapted from the writers who are internationally popular in literature and theatre and from the countries that are largely influential to Asian culture, so some people (especially from the theatre background) can acknowledge them. The universality and adaptability of the performance was also important when I wrote the script.
The balcony scene of the Romeo and Juliet was adapted because I had an interesting discussion with some Hong Kong friends and the Canadian performer, Kristy, about the names in Hong Kong. Since Hong Kong used to be a British colony, most people have English names. Some of them are typical or old English names, but some of the names are direct and unique such as “Emotion, Dream,” etc. Now the young generations in HK are fighting for democracy against pro-China government, and as a foreigner, the complexity of their culture even in the names seemed very interesting.

(3) AA: What is in the names Chun and Ponce that is interesting to you, what do they mean?
SL: I wanted to use one of the most popular Chinese or Cantonese last names, and Chun was one of them. Ponce is the last name of Merz, one of the Filipino performers, who starts dubbing the first line of the balcony scene.

AA: Thank you so much Soyung for this generous and insightful conversation.

Filed under: Articles / Texts, Of interest, , , , , , ,


* The ReadingClub is shortlisted for the Netbased Award 2018 of HeK Basel.

* Some distance, some time to relax, thinking about writing a book, about continuing Entanglements Trainings and how to develop distributed intelligence and maybe VR.

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Annie Abrahams
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