Re: [-empyre-] cultural, organizational and technological performance

Pall, in my prior post, I commented that the "freeway performs" and have previously said of this work that the computer performs and can see it as both. The computer can also be seen as a tool, as you note, doing the computational work and
"automating experimentation". 

However, I attribute a broader context. Although each driver contributes to the work and is a performer, though unknowingly, I extrapolate the drivers into a singular - the performance of the freeway  - as an event, location, context and experience.
For example, at some hypothetical time when there are no cars, the computer will still draw the state of the freeway at that time. When there are no drivers, who are the performers? (As experimental theatre director Richard Foreman proposed - and I
paraphrase - a ball rolls across an empty stage and there is no audience to see it happen yet it is still a performance.) Although it's possible that the camera won't transmit an image if there's no movement it seems that the computer still performs
the act of drawing. And, if as you note, it will draw when there is no camera signal, then the computer, under certain conditions becomes the sole performer in the work which could encompass the computer, the freeway and each of the drivers as

The simultaneity or multiplicity this proposes is a defining feature common to much of the work on the blog. The familiar dichotomy between performer/audience is now shifting and expanding to receivers of the work being both audience and performers
(and content creators). Although this doesn?t specifically apply to your work with regard to the receiver participating beyond observing. I?m always interested to hear an artist's intention in their work as often my own reception is related but oft
not an exact comprehension, so it adds an additional layer of meaning to understand the artists intentions along with my interpretation. But what I find interesting here - in that you, me and Helen have somewhat different takes on ?the performer? in
Autodrawn - is that the door has been opened to interpretation of performer/performance and it speaks of our negotiations with computation in a performative system and the  interest to (re)define the human relationship and role within such a system. 

For me, this thread points to a systems based consideration of performance. In the context of the machinic phylum (Deleuze and Guattari) we can begin to consider humans in a flat hierarchy with machines as a component in a sequence of elements in a
system comprised of feedback loops that receive and pass data, Chris? earlier conception of the human-machine entanglement. This indicates a willingness to explore human?s shifting relationship within machinic systems, as opposed to  a defacto human
primacy. I feel it?s really important that we have these conversations so that we can understand the changing relationships we are creating between humans and thinking/acting machines which we increasingly not only imbue but equip with learning,
sentience, consciousness and other performative attributes considered the domain of the human. 

You had previously commented on your interest to capture behavior unawares so that people didn?t change their actions in an attempt to manipulate the interactive aspect, as when you discuss capturing the performance of everyday life. This raises the
question of awareness or as Helen notes, consciousness. What it also brings up that we haven't specifically addressed yet is the idea of framing reception or context, an aspect that has to be considered in the definition of performance. 

These questions are not necessarily addressed to you, but are the tangents that are sparked by your reply. 

cheers -

soft_skinned_space <> writes:
>Hi Pall:
>I do think of the computer as a performer in your work, in the same way that
>an automatic coffee maker performs if you set it to prepare your morning
>coffee ? and see, it (your computer) is already teaching you ways of
>sketching freeway traffic. In writing this, I too ?am attributing criteria
>of performance to an object, technology, or system. I transfer affect to an
>object.? (Riel)  
>The issue of consciousness is one I?d love to see someone address? I think
>immediately about degrees of ?consciousness?? people walk through life
>sometimes totally unaware of others   (you should try driving in Boston!);
>animals, do we know about their level of consciousness? How about bugs and
>worms? amoebas, paramecia? And yet we think of them as alive.
>Have a safe trip. And may all the automated processes that carry you perform
>-- Helen
>on 7/21/05 12:51 PM, Pall Thayer at wrote:
>> I'm going to try to jump back in to this (I'm moving between continents
>> in a few days so I haven't been able to participate as much as I would
>> have liked). To tell the truth, I never really saw the computer as the
>> performer in Autodrawn. It may sound far-fetched, but I saw the drivers
>> of the cars as the performers. They are what affects the image, not the
>> computer (along with a few other factors like daylight, camera positions
>> and their functionality). Eventually, the drawings being generated
>> become predictable and it's relatively easy to see by the way cars are
>> drawn that the computer shows total disregard for the subject matter
>> (which in itself tends to produce rather interesting effects). The thing
>> that I really think matters with work like this, in regards to
>> "performance" is the live factor and the only factor involved that is
>> really, conciously thinking about this work in terms of "art" is the
>> viewer. The program can't be conciously trying to make art, the drivers
>> have no idea that they're involved in a work of art and so on. I see it
>> as a way of automating experimentation. I could spend years trying out
>> various different scenes for drawing traffic on a freeway, or I can
>> automate the process of trying "them all". Of course, it's going to take
>> forever, but my server's not in any hurry :-) For instance, Autodrawn
>> has already shown me a way of sketching freeway traffic that I probably
>> wouldn't have thought of; as a big sign that says, "This camera is
>> temporarily offline."
>> best r.
>> Pall
>> Michelle Riel wrote:
>>> To clarify, I don't  necessarily see them as new or additional categories,
>>> but to be mindful that we already have an understanding of performance as
>>> operating in these ways  - culturally, organizationally, and technologically.
>>> For example, to think
>>> of technological  performance can be to rate an object's utility by some
>>> criteria. When I say "How is my computer performing? It seems a little
>>> sluggish, I may have too many images open and the vram is maxed out." We
>>> understand this to mean that I
>>> am discussing the utilitarian aspect of the computer's functionality. When I
>>> say the "freeway performs" in Pall Thayer's Autodrawn work in which he has
>>> created a software framework through which to capture the random activities
>>> of cars passing along
>>> the freeway and conceptualizes it in relation to the artists sketch exercise,
>>> I am attributing criteria of performance to an object, technology, or system.
>>> I transfer affect to an object; I see the computationally embedded and
>>> technologized world in
>>> which I live as alive, able to engage and enact. The "what" of the engagement
>>> / enactment is that  tenuous realm that we are currently pondering:
>>> performance without a body, responsiveness, or performance, of once inanimate
>>> objects that now sense
>>> and communicate.
>>> Since we may not usually consider performance beyond the cultural referent,
>>> my intention was to propose thinking more expansively about performance as
>>> more than a sited event, perhaps a condition or state, since I often also use
>>> performance and
>>> performativity interchangeably (which is probably a sloppy practice and I
>>> should be more rigorous). As far as examples, this broader perspective of
>>> performance is reflected in many of the examples and artists referenced thus
>>> far (Pall Thayer as
>>> mentioned, Chris Salter, Diller + Scofidio, Teran and Mann, Usman Haque) in
>>> which objects, environments, and systems perform.
>>> Michelle -
>>> soft_skinned_space <> writes:
>>>> Michelle R. --
>>>> "Perhaps the multivalent concept of performance as cultural, organizational
>>>> and technological can inform a typology of current networked practice."
>>>> Can you give us an idea of what this means?  A new way of categorizing types
>>>> of networked practice...  what would you put in each of the above
>>>> categories?  And wouldn't one spend hours arguing what work belongs where?
>>>> -- Helen
>>>> on 7/14/05 6:28 PM, Michelle Riel at wrote:
>>>>> In Jon McKenzie?s book Perform or Else he presents a case study approach
>>>>> demonstrating the current cultural use and understanding of ?performance?.
>>>>> He
>>>>> cites the parallel developments emergent from the 50?s and 60?s of
>>>>> Marcuse?s
>>>>> claim that
>>>>> post-industrial societies are ruled by the ?performance principle?
>>>>> (oppressive
>>>>> / repressive sublimation, or conformance to social acceptance), concurrent
>>>>> with the rise of both a theatrical concept of performance from ritual and
>>>>> social interaction
>>>>> and the development in art that would become performance art.
>>>>> Specifically, he looks at three facets of performance: the efficacy of
>>>>> ?cultural performance? as in the performance of dancers, singers, musicians
>>>>> and actors in the traditional performing arts and experimental art; the
>>>>> efficiency of ?organizational
>>>>> performance? such as workplace productivity of companies, business
>>>>> management,
>>>>> economic power; and the effectiveness of ?technological performance? such
>>>>> as
>>>>> the technological functionality of objects or systems.
>>>>> While seemingly disparate, and certainly broad, expanding performance to be
>>>>> inclusive of these cultural uses enables us to understand as ?performance?
>>>>> buildings made of fog and tables that follow you, tools that are sociable
>>>>> and
>>>>> engage you to become
>>>>> performative through their use and, the more familiar notion of
>>>>> performance,
>>>>> interactions by artists with technology in an event presented to others who
>>>>> observe.  
>>>>> But unlike Schwitters? imagined Merz conception, the blog is chronicling
>>>>> _current practice_ which, like the openness of its premise (any live event
>>>>> that is network enabled), means that there is a really broad range of
>>>>> realized
>>>>> work. From lo-fi to
>>>>> DIY art to academic and commercial institutionally funded research to
>>>>> commercial tools and experiences. And an equally broad range of
>>>>> practitioners
>>>>> from artists and performers, of course, to engineers, computer scientists,
>>>>> social scientists,
>>>>> humanities researchers, architects, and undoubtedly others.
>>>>> One aspect of the blog as a database of works is to note patterns of
>>>>> practice
>>>>> as a means to understand the expanding definition of performance. The
>>>>> breadth
>>>>> of this scope points out that both definitions of terms (performance,
>>>>> liveness, embodiment,
>>>>> presence, agency, etc.) as well as a typology are needed.  We began with
>>>>> the
>>>>> categories Telematic, Locative, Wearable, and Environments. Perhaps the
>>>>> multivalent concept of performance as cultural, organizational and
>>>>> technological can inform a
>>>>> typology of current networked practice.

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