Re: [-empyre-] networked_performance

Hi Michelle and thanks for the great response. I am familiar with the work of both Chris Salter and Usman Haque. But I think what I was talking about (or at least what I meant to talk about) is slightly different because they are working with environments that respond to the public within it making that public aware of an interactive element. This will cause people to change the way they behave. They'll start "looking" for that interactive element and try to figure out what triggers what. At this point, I'm more interested in capturing "normal" behaviour. So it's more about a sensitive environment rather than a responsive environment. The work doesn't respond to whoever interacts with it, it simply records or transmits the information to another viewing public. This ties into some ideas I've been working with in regards to abstraction for quite some time.

I'm very happy that my work has been included in the blog. The projects definitely involve performance. They aren't necessarily networked but ideally, they would be. For instance, in the case of "Hlemmur in C" the original idea was to use track the movements of employees inside the busstation and that the "base" point for each would differ. That way we would've been able to set up a server inside the station to stream the data out live. However we couldn't afford the super expensive GPS devices that would have worked indoors (the place has big skylights but we couldn't get regular GPS devices to work reliably enough). So I came up with the idea of tracking taxi's instead and collecting the data for the "simulated" live stream. The interesting thing about the taxi's is that even though they were fully aware of the fact that they were participants in a work of art, they couldn't really do anything about it. They have to go where the passenger wants to go and where that passenger wants to go will affect who the next passenger is and so on and so on. Sort of a cascading chaotic effect.

Fictional Space was basically just a "sketch" of some ideas I was working on. It involved using bluetooth to track the proximity of someone carrying a bluetooth phone. The "performer" in the piece was myself, so I couldn't help but to be "aware" of the fact that I was being tracked (by myself). But the idea was to use this one-dimensional spatial data to create a sort of "pallette" of data to mix into a two or three dimensional representation of space so that the result would represent a space that doesn't really exist. I did a somewhat more refined version later called "A painting of three places" located here: But these are some ideas I'm still working on. It's my current research.

Autodrawn is the only one of these that are actually networked. The idea there is that anyone who happens to be driving on one of those freeways at the time that the traffic cam takes a picture and my program happens to randomly select that location, becomes a "performer" in the work. But it kind of stretches the concept of something being "interactive". In that sense it's a bit similar to a little sketch piece I did a couple of years ago called "Headlines". It was a program that would constantly read and parse the local headlines from the website of Iceland's main newspaper and play them as notes. It was presented as an interactive piece explaining that if you wanted to interact with it, all you had to do was make the domestic headlines in Icelandic news.

And yes, I wouldn't mind hearing your reasons for documenting these works as networked performances.

best r.

Michelle Riel wrote:
Pall, In response to ‘involuntary interaction’ or responsiveness that participants may not be aware of, what you describe brings to mind a responsive, sentient or context aware environment (also referred to as smart architecture but I like ‘environment’,
or ‘space’ as it has a more open connotation). The work of Chris Salter and Usman Haque come to mind.

In the case of Chris Salter’s ‘Suspension Threshold’ the light levels of the space are raised and lowered in response to the aggregate breathing patterns of the audience, which he describes as ‘an environment that lies barely on the threshold of
human perception’. Chris is also an eloquent writer and sums up a lot of compelling aspects of ubiquitous / pervasive / ambient  computing from a sociotechnical or technocultural perspective.

In the case of Usman Haque, who is trained as an architect and who sites his work in architectural practice, his proposed work ‘Haunt’ seeks to create the parapsychological effects of the feeling of being haunted. He describes the work as ‘using
humidity, temperatures and electromagnetic and sonic frequencies that parapsychologists have associated with haunted spaces to build an environment that feels "haunted".’ By gauging biofeedback via galvanic skin response meters a dynamic database
modeled on learning algorithms learns what is effective in creating the sensation of feeling haunted. The adaptive system responds in real-time to the physiological state of visitors.

The project focuses on how the psychology of human perception gives rise to the construction of space. See also his project ‘Scents of a Space’ using scent in three-dimensional space.

Usman Haque is also an interesting to reference in that he is engaged from the perspective of an architect. This is parallel to what Helen and I propose through the blog, which is to look at the body of works on the blog from the perspective of
‘performance’. We ask our selves how and why any particular work is performance and what specifically makes it performance or performative. I’ll take this up in a separate post and elaborate on the earlier question to define what we mean by
performance and will return to your proposition that what makes this body of works performances is their physical interaction.

I’m also interested for you to elaborate on your example of ‘turning a work environment into an interactive space’.  Also, since a number of your works are featured on the blog – ‘Hlemmur in C’, ‘Autodrawn’ and ‘Fictional Space’  - I’d like to hear
your thoughts on being included on the blog by which we propose your works are performative. Do you see these works as performances or performative? How would you understand or rationalize them as such?  Though, we should be explaining our
justification to you, eh?!  Hopefully, this will emerge as we endeavor to further define networked performance.

soft_skinned_space <> writes:

Hi everyone,
I just want to briefly tell about one of the issues I've approached in my own work and would like to hear if anyone has any thoughts on this. I think the basic premise in these networked performances is physical interaction, i.e. not directly through the computer (that's what makes them "performances"). But most of them seem to involve voluntary actions

from a certain public. I'm more interested in the idea of involuntary

interaction. Using common actions without the participants necessarily being aware that they're interacting with a work of art or in a way that they don't have actual control over how they interact (for instance, by turning a work environment into an interactive space).

I haven't really formed any deep concepts around this (besides feeling that this is, in a way, a very "pure" form of interaction), so I would be interested in hearing Helen's and others ideas on this.

best regards,
Pall Thayer

Pall Thayer


michelle riel, mfa
asst. prof. new media & dept. chair
teledramatic arts & technology, bldg. 27
california state university monterey bay
100 campus center
seaside, ca 93955, usa
v: 831.582.4665

empyre forum

-- _______________________________ Pall Thayer artist/teacher


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