Here are some practical reflections on the practical use of telematics in a
live performance context.
In our work "The Electronic Disturbance" which premiered last April at the
Kitchen, we connected via ISDN lines to a singer and an acotr, in Santa Fe
and Los Angeles respectively. At the Kitchen, the image and voice of these
two performers, who were doing song/text simultaneously, was blended into
one voice. These two people were designed to give a characterization to the
"electronic body" that the Critical Art Ensemble posit as the doppleganger
to the corporeal body that we all possess.
The downfall of what we did was that it lacked any form of improvisation,
in which a telematic connection becomes meaningful. If you are performing
pre-composed material, which we were, what is the difference between a
"medium-tech" ISDN connection and a TV broadcast via sattelite?
Essentially, what we did _could_ have been a videotape, though it was not.
(Interactions with the dancers onstage in NYC could have been practiced in
On the other hand, our success in this connection was that the corporeal
bodies of the two performers were, in fact, spread across the continent. In
the context of our work, which examined (in part) the displacement of the
physical body by technology, this actually is meaningful -- though I am
afraid that this meaning may be purely theoretical and not essential to the
audience experience of the work.
I think that Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz of the Electronic Cafe,
who pioneered a lot of telematic artwork, may have taught me this lesson
best. We collaborated with them on a couple of piece, and Dawn and I would
go crazy because of their emphasis on improvisation, which we don't
generally do. But, in fact, they are correct, and we were wrong to try to
do highly precomposed material via telematic connection. Like any telephone
call, what makes it feel "interactive" (hate that word) is the
improvisation that is an essential part of the transaction.
Johnannes rightly points this out above...
>a synergy event
>can teach us how we deal with unexpected and unpredictable arrivals
>(interactions) with others, and how we deal with interactions wheh we don't
>know whom we are dealing with
Though the ISDN connection allows for high quality video, it is
point-to-point and so lacks the possibility of rogue participation, which
is exactly what Johannes suggests. Unexpected or even malicious
participation by performers unknown would be, of course, the ultimate
improvisational situation to cope with.
-- Mark Coniglio
Mark Coniglio, Artistic Co-Director | firstname.lastname@example.org
Troika Ranch | http://www.art.net/~troika