Re: [-empyre-] interactive video

Hi everyone,

Well - it's great to see people discussing one of the real-time, collaborative projects on Furtherfield. So, thank you for mentioning it. So it'll take this opportunity to declare in more detail certain aspects of what the VisitorsStudio is...

One of the many things that we have learned during the setting up and creation/formulation of a facility such as 'VisitorsStudio' (, is that you could be creating/inventing the most amazing work(s), yet it is not being seen by certain academics even though you are actually creating the very thing that many of them advocate themselves should be made or put into fruition. So, thankfully, we are not creating the facility for them or we would be starved of qualative, reflection.

We rely on the source to get feedback, not tech, but people. We created the facility for ourselves, and those who would find creative experience and value in using it for their own imaginative means, collaboratively or singularly. It is the 'users' who are the real voice, they are best critics and are priceless advisers regarding how such a facility can be improved.

For us, participation is the key when creating something as collaborative as VisitorStudio. in time, after working with so many different people on the project, we have learned that an instinct occurs, that situationally introduces a fluid, behavior brings about and enhances a creative dialogue. This can offer art works that are significant, beautiful and poignant - some may argue, and indeed have suggested that many of the results of these collaborative experiences have resulted in works that are equal to any work created of any singular entity/artist. Personally, I would say that it is not better or worse. It is an option, an alternative, in its right it serves to break down the notion of singular (ego centred) creativity. Not death of the author, but the representation of many authors at once, mutated and hybridized. It educates, not in the traditional sense, but in respect of how people behave when working live, online whilst going through the process of creativity with others mutually.

Also, it challenges various aspects/notion of copyright - many of the works that are uploaded by the creative participants are changed, mutated and remixed, whether it be sound/visuals by other users. The kind of files that are used (the list will be more extensive soon) are jpg's, mp3's and swf.

VJ'ing, is not necessarily the issue and can too often fall into the trap of being a 'one dimensional' mediation tool, limited by its non-collaborative functions - conforming to dj domination over others, lacking mutualist involvement. In contrast, Furtherfield's VisitorsStudio, allows the choice for everyone viewing to be actively creating and participating at once, in real time, from anywhere in the world on a 56k modem - upwards. Lending itself towards artistic creation, pushing further than just a tool for having a good time. Although having a good time, these days is definitely pretty important, but exploration is just as valid.

We created VisitorsStudio, so that it would also be used not only on the Internet, but also with mobile-media. As in, out door events on the streets, using wireless, projections and mobile phone communications. A good example of one of the documented events that we all took part in last year, with many different users/artists from allover world at the same time is - Dissension Convention.

Out of the event, we have created an archive so people can observe what can be created by going through the action of collaborative creativity. Coinciding with the Republican Convention in New York, over 20 international net artists and digital artists broadcaster a new collaborative art-polemic with a focus on how Bush and the US Republicans negatively influence every locality around the world.

All multimedia performances were created live, on line on Furtherfield's VisitorsStudio. These were projected at New York's, Postmasters Gallery's RNC NODE (, a way-station, which served as a physical node of an ad-hock public broadcasting, a system of on line, real time protest performances and alternative news actions. All on line streams were also output in local bars and projections from windows & also projected onto 'The Point community centre', the Bronx. And seen on

A live, Mix-Archive - Here you can access an edited archive of the 30 hours of performance created during this unique event. Just click on participants names below.

The true essence of on line collaboration regarding this virtual studio, is that it is networked, and can be accessed/used outside of the net arena at the same time. Interactivity is the first base, then participation is the next step, then collaboration supports the engagement of A type of non-singular evolution, which reflects mutual, multi-productive works that potentially transcend, already prescribed ideologies of art practice and production, bringing about a field and process of shared performance, as well as digitally free content being created by more than one individual before one's very eyes.

It is not only the people that invent/make the platform and sculpt it, it is the community that changes its manner and shape as well, in demanding that it changes for their own creative needs. If this aspect is ignored for a (supposed) higher level of thinking, due to any idealistic or theoretical concept, then the platform is not going to be seen or used by any community - because to be honest - the work itself, like a platform should explain its reasonings,functions and possibilities once someone explores and engages with it.

If a platform is created that immediately opens up possibilities for contemporary creativity to invent new works not only collaboratively but also in pushing forward how people actually adapt and engage in the act of creativity itself. Then a new behavior occurs that naturally introduces not only interesting content and work, but also a mannerism that can positively show others that collaboration is possible whilst using technology and also on the terms of the creators/artists taking part in the creative process themselves.

Some relevant links - people who have used this facility, as well as dissension convention crew...

marc garrett

Helen Varley Jamieson wrote:

i often find when viewing 'interactive' video on the web that my interactivity consists of randomly clicking & wondering what effect the click has had or whether clicking in a different place, or at a different time, might have a produced a different result. it's interactive in that the viewer can have some effect on the work, without any real agency.

Henry Warwick wrote:

I would also distinguish the difference between interactive video and
performance cinema, and I would tend to question much of what constitutes the "interactivity" of "interactive" video, as much of what I see as "interactive art" (much less video) is not much more than various elaborations on a boolean if/then decision tree, which I
find to be completely, and too often profoundly, UNinteractive.

luke wrote:

for me, interactivity is synonymous with the word 'dialogue' when describing art, which encompasses vertices of conflict but leaves room for more. i choose the term 'clickable' over 'interactive' for art dependent on the button metaphor.

breathing wall is an interesting case in point, because it uses clickable interfaces as well as the de-visual interfaced mechanism of
audio feedback, in this work being breath. one can control breathing, but ultimately also one needs to breath and the slippage between this element of control is what to me brings the interactivity its meaning.

I am in agreement with most of this. The term "interactive" is applied
to a lot of work which is perhaps better described as non-linear, clickable or whatever. I have tended to use 'participatory' recently to describe my own video work - it better describes my intention to create a physical and aesthetic interaction with the viewer, in that
direction and speed of mouse movement directly influences what is seen.
Naturally the actual physical interaction this allows the participant depends on their setup - standard wired mouse, wireless, rollerball etc., plus mouse response speed, processor speed and all the other
determining local factors.

I feel this kind of physical interaction in the feedback sections of
Jim's "On Lionel Kearns" - a very direct digital visual representation of one's analogue movements. Maybe this type of interaction should be
distinguished from the participation in the construction of meaning of
the piece, which seems to me where real 'agency' comes in, and as Helen suggested is a great example of this.

The Breathing Wall is split into two quite different halves. The clickable linear story (the beginning of this is online) is intentionally constricted to suggest the confinement and routine of main character's daytime life in prison. The breathing ('night-dream') sections are again a very physical type of interaction, but with the twist that the slow breathing required to uncover the story causes a significant physical change in the viewer - ideally, a near hypnagogic state. I think this makes it quite different from mouse movements, which physically can only really hope to tire your arm or thumb :) The way breathing works to influence the narrative also seems closer to the basic concept of 'interactive' as "acting or capable of acting on each other."

Simon Biggs wrote:

Interesting take on revising artists moving image work in light of pre-cinema. This has been done extensively before, but in reference to stucturalist film and, then later, artists video. I guess we will
go through the same process with online digital video.

Paul St George wrote:

Animation has not been overlooked. Much of the contemporary moving image in the Sequences show (that Jim refers to) could be called animation or it could be called something else. The distinction, if there is one, between animation and much digital video is vague and refers more to their heritage rather than current practice. Interestingly, picking up on your point about stucturalist film, one
of the writers for the forthcoming book is Werner Nekes.

I hope so, Simon! I think there is still a lot to mine from pre- and early cinema. For anyone who is interested in the background of the two pieces Jim kindly posted, Patinage (and Turnbaby as an earlier iteration) both came from my interest in Anton Bragaglia's concept of the moving image, which came from Bergson's ideas about the infinite continuity of time, and were located in opposition to cinematography:

"cinematography never synthesises movement... merely reconstructs fragments of reality, already coldly broken up, in the same way as the hand of a chronometer deals with time even though this flows in a continuous and constant stream.
...We are not interested in the precise reconstruction of movement, which has already been broken up and analysed. We are involved only in the area of movement which produces sensation." (Futurist Photodynamism, 1913)

This is where the other half of the phrase "interactive video" is
problematic for me - what exactly do we call video these days? does the phrase include static images that move around the screen, and images that morph continously or very slowly (Brad Brace's 12hour jpeg project, )?

Another interesting issue for me is that digital video (interactive or not) can more easily move the screen upon which the subject is depicted, as well as the subject itself. This might offer some interesting narrative opportunities for using the movement of the eyes around the visual field, and the way this 'interacts' with the brain (supposedly eyes up & left = remembered imagery, eyes down and left = internal dialogue etc.)

Henry Warwick wrote:

I have A LOT of problems with VJ material. Most of what I have seen of it is just awful. There are some brilliant exceptions.

Yes, I completely agree... I have seen a lot of VJ content that is very good in itself, and performances that have been good in terms of the audiovisual narratives that are developed over the course of a set. But the big problem for me is the location where VJing often takes place - clubs, bars, galleries - where there is an odd tension between people wanting to sit and watch it, people who want to dance to it, and people who want to use it as background filler and talk over it.

A lot used to be made of the do-it-yourself aspect of VJ software: that the agency came from creating, rather than consuming. As a communal live experience, I find it flawed, but perhaps as an individual creative experience it is more interesting? Furtherfield is again interesting in this context as as a live, communal creative experience which works (I think) because there is largely a common intention and expectation in the participants.



_______________________________________________ empyre forum

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.