Thanks Curt for sharing these projects. Regarding the uncertainty you
mention between works that blur the line between installation and
performance, this is where the "performativity of code" comes in, referring
to acts or time-based occurrences in installation work that involves
visitor participation and code but wouldn't necessarily be defined as
Here I answer my own question regarding the When in reference to *Toast:*
In the Feijiacun version of my project *Toast *(Beijing 2012)*, *my
programmed interface served as a mediating device between a performative
communicator and watching others. What was originally intended as a device
to facilitate translation and human interaction in Beijing did not make
social interactions more smooth or daily life easier to traverse. It did,
however, reveal surprises in speech, interjecting its own version of a
participant's spoken words. [Apologies to the list as this is the only
project I do not have image-documentation of online]
* Toast* enabled a platform for participants to be heard through
a voice that was not their own as a parody of the original spoken text was
delivered and displayed. This was a ventriloquistic scenario in which the
original utterance was disjointed from its source.
*Toast *asked a participant to perform the social code of a
toast within the context of a programmatic work. Though there were people
around the participant listening to their original speech, the feeling of
performing was softened by the ability to speak into a computer microphone
and toward an image on the wall of an empty dining table. This seemed to
engage more participation from those who might have been shy. After an
individual spoke his text, others commented on the translation. The
variable that made this possible was that most of the participants present
at the exhibition spoke at least some Mandarin and some English, while many
spoke other languages as their native tongue. Those living in Beijing were
already accustomed to crossing cultures and language barriers, so the
concept of words being lost in translation resonated with them. An
unexpected outcome was that those who were able to read and speak both
English and Mandarin seemed to gain the most satisfaction out of
interacting with *Toast* because the "success" or "failure" of the
translation was evident.
So when was the performance happening in *Toast*? Participant performance
is obvious. Inherent in this were the social codes present in the gallery
and the interpretation of what a toast was based on a participant's
cultural background and their experience of living in Beijing (as a local
or an ex-pat). Performativity was also present in my Processing sketch
that brought together the Google Translate algorithm and the speech-to-text
software to display translations of a participants' toasts, which, when
shown next to a live image of their face in a speech bubble, created
unintended and sometimes humorous accidents of language.
On Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 7:47 PM, Curt Cloninger <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hi Victoria (and all),
> Teaching "new media performance," I run into pleasantly confounding
> situations where it's difficult to tell whether a proposed student project
> is a "new media performance" or an "interactive installation," or "digital
> instrument construction" (like they were a digital luthier or something).
> Here is a piece of mine that could be somewhere between all three:
> It was a series of about four performances in one evening, each about
> 10-20 minutes, in a black box room adjacent to a gallery. Between the
> performances, I left the system running, and it behaved like a kind of
> generative installation, remixing itself:
> I would take off the white robe and gloves and leave them on top of the
> theremin between performances, and then I would walk into the room and put
> on the robe and gloves and start to play again for each performance.
> So it was like a generative system that I could step into and modulate
> (inhabite? animate? haunt?), but then when I removed myself from the
> system, it would continue to self-modulate.
> So was it an instrument that I was playing, or was it a series of
> performances with breaks in between, or was it an ongoing generative
> installation that was performing itself with occasional input from me?
> At the time, I thought of it more as a performance, because I wasn't
> inviting audience members to "play" it between performances, and I broke it
> all down at the end of the evening. But between performances, people's
> conversation in the room was part of the input that was modulating the
> Maybe something analagous would be Young/Zazeela's "Dream House" (
> http://melafoundation.org/DHpressFY12.html ), because they do have
> occasional musical performances in that space with the installation drone
> still going. But due to the duration of the installation vs. the duration
> of the performances, it really feels more like an installation than a
> Also, this piece seemed relevant given the past discussion and returning
> back to language and dance.
> It is recent work by a student in my "internet art" class. She is posting
> "dance replies" to her facebook thread. So she's not receiving coded
> "performative" instructions and "implementing" them (per se), but she's
> just dialoguing with natural language via dance (channeled through
> post-produced video).
> Finally, here are some funny ones:
> files repeatedly in a (pseudo-)random order, and with a given range of
> variable pause between each refresh.
> So the code is instructing the "dancer" to "perform," and it is dutifully
> performing a non-looping, variable dance.
> I don't think of it as performance. I think of it as generative animation.
> In this case, it's a kind of generative puppetry.
> On Mar 24, 2014, at 9:29 AM, Victoria Bradbury wrote:
> > n the spirit of CRUMB's practical approach to research, I propose that we
> > spend the final week giving examples of performativity and code within
> > own work by responding to a question of When:
> > When, in your own art practice, does performativity occur? Is it when
> > code is written? Is it when you perform with your body or voice? When a
> > participant encounters your work? At all of these points, at another
> > or not at all? Can you give a specific example?
> > You may choose to comment on the way you are defining performativity in
> > your answer (many definitions have been offered over the course of the
> > month).
// Victoria Bradbury
Researcher @ www.crumbweb.org
New Media Caucus <http://www.newmediacaucus.org> <CommComm>
Attaya Projects <http://attayaprojects.com> // Collaborator