We perform experimenting thinking together using words and things and the affects transferred via our voices. We experiment performing thinking together, We think performing experiments together, We experiment thinking performance, We experiment performing thought together using words and things and the affects transferred via our voices...

Online experiments by Annie Abrahams and Martina Ruhsam, who, once again*, investigate the performative potential of computer-mediated performance. By listening to each other´s gestures (in a visual and acoustic sense) they choreograph each other despite being geographically far away from each other - Annie lives in Montpellier, Martina in Berlin.

On Object Agency. As an assemblage of text-fragments and daily objects this live-performance is a series of linkages and open relations between words and banal things. What do words, a pencil and a stone have in common? Does the stone change when being confronted by a hammer? What changes if it is replaced by a pill? Does the image of a spoon change the thought or does the thought change the thing?


July 7 2016 14h15 besides, subjectivity is no longer a privileged site for emancipation. Performance during The Politics of Performance and Play. Feminist Matters. Conference Leiden University, Institute for Philosophy. Lipsius 019, Cleveringaplaats 1, Leiden. 20 min + Q&A.

Photo of Q+A
No screencapture this time.
- txt / script of the performance .pdf

On the 6th of July 14:30-17:00 h Annie Abrahams led the workshop being with ... performance as research as experiment as tool in the LAK dance studio of the university of Leiden.
Workshop description : Can we construct, building only on what we are, a radically horizontal performance? Can we, at the same time, research the agency of objects in our relations? Let's try. Who, what are we? We? Find an object, discover the object, make it exist, don't talk, observe, write, change, rediscover, We, What is we?, don't discuss, utter, do, observe, write, change.
In this workshop we will all be, and the conceptors, and the performers and the audience (involved observers). We will formulate and execute, while continuously changing roles, a changing script written by all.
More information on the workshop. (photos, scripts, preparations txt, sound, notes by Cissie Fu etc.)

March 19th 2016 20h. besides, compressed by communication. Annie was in Montpellier, Martina in Vienna. With discussion afterwards in Im_Flieger Im_flieger@Schokoladenfabrik, Wien.
In the frame of Metabolism - Ecologies of collaboration / STOFFWECHSEL – Ökologien der Zusammenarbeit (project & platform).
Im_Flieger is an Independent Artists’ Association – Platform and Experimental Ground for Dance, Performance and related Art Forms.

besides, compressed by communication

besides, compressed by communication ist eine Real-Time-Komposition alltäglicher Objekte in einem Interface, das gewöhnlich menschliche Gesichter rahmt. Annie Abrahams und Martina Ruhsam kommunizieren über Objekte, die sie nebeneinander stellen und rekombinieren und indem sie einen Text lesen, der sich während der Performance dadurch neu schreibt. Einmal mehr erforschen sie das performative Potential einer Begegnung, die mittelsWebcams im Internet stattfindet und zum Teil am Computer generiert wird. Indem sie auf die Gesten voneinander hören und reagieren, choreografieren sie sich in diesem Experiment gegenseitig obwohl sie geografisch weit voneinander entfernt sind und weitgehend unsichtbar bleiben. Annie ist in Montpellier, Martina in Wien.

- video screencapture
- txt / script of the performance .pdf
- log of tchat during the performance.

March 2016. "We perform experimenting thinking together using words and things and the affects transferred via our voices. We experiment performing thinking together, We think performing experiments together, We experiment thinking performance, We experiment performing thought together using words and things and the affects transferred via our voices..."
Extracted from besides, what are we doing? Notes by Annie Abrahams 03/2016.pdf 

Curt Cloninger reacted to the Bakhtin quote used in the notes. Very inspiring!
.. That Lazzarato quote is rich and suggests all sorts of directions. I’ll just stick with Bakhtin whom I know better. Bakhtin’s term is “utterance," not “voice.” An utterance could be spoken words at a particular time and space in history, or it could be a instance of reading a book at a particular time and space in history. What it can’t be is simply a book sitting on a shelf unread. The book on the shelf is the syntactic side of “language” (the side someone like Chomsky is always on about), but that is ony one side of language. That side (book on a shelf) is dead if we all stop talking and reading in time/space history. But as we keep talking and reading, even if we never open that book, the language in that book is changing so that when we finally do open the book and read it, our understanding of certain words in that book will be different now than ten years ago..

.. Without the utterance event (whether an event of speaking or an event of reading or an event of writing), "language" is hermetically sealed. Without the historical utterance event, language: 1) doesn’t bring all its prior meanings to enter lived, present-tense time/space, AND 2) it doesn’t receive new meanings that arise from the particular inflections / affects / timbres / typefaces / lighting / contexts of that present-tense time/space utterance. That #2 aspect is super important. It’s the way in which “the world” gets into “language.” So let’s say you are reading this email in a coffee house. The way your coffee tastes and the music they are playing and the sunlight through the window and the resolution of your monitor and the fact that it is set in helvetica and the fact that you have to go to the bathroom are all affectively modulating the language you are reading (in subtle but real ways). So the next time you think and use and read andspeak those same words, those words change for you, and for others then reading and writing you. So all of language is like an ongoing and evolving dialogue for all humans over all history, but totally entangled with the real historical instances in which it is uttered. Language itself cannotevolve without the utterance event. (“The utterance is an exceptionally important node of problems.” - Bakhtin)..

..So, for example, Alan (Sondheim) and I met at Brown in 2011 and hung out and talked and I saw him perform and he saw me perform and that real-time experience changed our online communication, and our communication with others, and (to some subtle degree) the history of the English language. And Annie and I collaborated on a project online, and although we only repeated the single word “love,” that word is changed now for us and others. The cool/robust thing about Bakhtin’s “utterance” is that it doesn’t prioritize the spoken voice, or bodily presence, or any particular form of text. It just has to happen in lived, historical real-time/space. It has to be an event. Event or it didn’t happen. Event or GTFO. Granted, it does prioritize a kind of human subject, but Bakhtin is writing all this in the 1950s way prior to object-oriented ontology and its anthropocentric warnings. Animal/plant/rock utterances? Sure, why not? As I read Whitehead, it’s not too hard to get there. Human-to-object-to-human utterances? It seems like that’s what Annie is exploring..

November 28th 2015 18h30 besides, smaller than a single pixel, online performance, pixxelpoint 2015 festival, Nova Gorica, Slovenie.

besides, smaller than a single pixel is a real-time composition in which daily objects interrelate in an interface that usually frames the heads of humans. Annie Abrahams and Martina Ruhsam communicate by juxtaposing and resituating objects and by reading a text that is recomposed during the course of the performance. Unexpected links between thing and thing, object and text, image and sound appear. Sometimes the inorganic performers hijack the discussion. Scissors meet a knife which coincides with the word capitalism before being replaced by a little white box that is temporarily allied with anonymity. While matches and a paperbag are juxtaposed, a discussion about being post-image takes place that is followed by inorganic pulsations. The conversation meanders through unpredictable territories and is disseminated among various human and nonhuman agents.

- video screencapture
- text / script of the performance .pdf
- log of tchat during the performance.

Before the performance Martina gave a lecture The It As Actant in the Nova Gorica City Gallery.
"Rather than trying to disentangle the human from the nonhuman, the subject from the object, we can gain from perceiving their intricate entanglement, their constant interwovenness, their embeddedness in a network of relations (and with material entanglement I do not just mean a relation between me and the door for example because I am on the right side of it and I perceive the door, so it's in my consciousness). Entanglement is meant in a material sense: My actions constantly involve some material entities and the use of these things alters my body, influences and alters the way how I think, how I do things but more than that these entities that I am constantly in touch with also have an effect on my body. (Where my body starts or ends and a nonhuman body starts is not so clear....is the computer a part of me or did my thoughts become part of it as they are resting on its desktop now? Is my finger part of this machine when it is touching the mouse? How is it with an artificial heart? Is it an object and after entering the body it is a subject? Or is it an object-part of a subject? How is it in regard to food? We constantly eat stuff and partly transform it into bodily substance. So where does the object of an apple for example end? When we swallow it or when we touch it? These are rather unresolvable questions....) According to Latour “it’s never clear who and what is acting [...] since an actor is never alone in acting. Play-acting puts us immediately into a thick imbroglio where the question of who is carrying out the action has become unfathomable.” In specific networks with other things and/or humans things enable certain actions and disable others. Latour clarified that this does not mean that objects and subjects merge and that we consider them as a harmonious union, but that we substitute the rigid conventional distribution of roles with a spectrum of indistinction. If we focus on the entanglement of humans and things (and other nonhuman entities), on the interdependence of so-called subjects and objects we might develop a hightened (ecological) awareness connected with the responsibility that is entailed with this entangled condition."
Citation from The It As Actant. You can download a .pdf of the complete lecture.


September 2015 "besides, the person I am becoming. was an experimentation-machine. We put ingredients (composed quotations, objects) into it and the interface framed them. The result is a non-improvised real-time composition spiced ith a lot of coincidences. We combined a text-layer with the exposition of profane objects from everyday-life. The objects are neither expensive nor aesthetically especially beautiful. Their combination is random. So, the relations between the text and the things emerges in the performance and is different each time. The objects do not represent anything. They do not stand for anything but themselves. So does the text. What do the objects tell and what does the text? I was surprised that the performance was so much about the communication between Annie and me even if we were not visible (just our hands) and even if we were reading a pre-written text while being in two different cities." Martina Ruhsam. Extract Reflections on the three first performances besides,. For the complete text see : Turbulence.

July 22nd 2015 : besides, the city is not a tree. In the frame of 6PM YOUR LOCAL TIME, curated by Fabio Paris for Link Art Center. With the collaboration of OUDEIS, laboratoire pour les arts numériques, électroniques et médiatiques in Le Vigan, France.

July 22nd 2015. For besides, the person I am becoming, we collected text – overheard phrases, poetry, magazine, academic citations and objects. While preparing we decided the objects should not be personal, not be too beautiful, as ordinary, casual, daily as possible. We wanted the objects to act as much as the words we selected from our collection. This resulted in what Igor Stromajer called a "theory-meditation". You can watch the video of this first performance here.
For besides, the city is not a tree we want to try out another more narrative version of the text collection, to speed up the rhythm and to see what meaning might arise from such a text object layering.

- Screencapture video (20 min)
- text / script .pdf
- documentation, remote activation and reinterpretation by three members of Oudeis in their twitter feed. .jpg (9000 x 667 px)
- images made by Oudeis





Streaming performances : Ivan Chabanaud / mosaika.tv - thanks Ivan.
From sept 2015 : water-wheel.net.
From june 2016 : UpStage and foobarlab.



August 2017 In the Virtual Archive for Performing Arts (AVAE), written in Spanish, Zara Rodríguez Prieto analyses besides, (page 165 – 170), Blast Theory‘s Karen, and Miranda July‘s Somebody as examples of the different ways conversation and discourse participate in online performative practices. Participar en tiempo discontinuo, Zara Rodríguez Prieto, Telón de fondo. Revista de teoría y crítica teatral, núm. 25, 2017, pp. 160-178. ISSN 1669-6301, telóndefondo /25 (2017).


July 7 2016 14h15 besides, subjectivity is no longer a privileged site for emancipation.
Duration 20 min. + Q&A.
Conference The Politics of Performance and Play. Feminist Matters. Leiden University Institute for Philosophy.


March 19th 2016 20h. besides, compressed by communication.
Duration 35 minutes.
With discussion afterwards.
Loft/Schokofliegerei, Wien. In the frame of Metabolism - Ecologies of collaboration. (project & platform)

Photo ©Dina Lucia Weiss More photos on flickr

Nov. 28th 2015 18h30 besides, smaller than a single pixel,
Duration 20 minutes.
With public chatwindow.
Pixxelpoint festival, Nova Gorica (Slo), Gorizia (I). Curator Igor Stromajer.

July 22nd 2015 : besides, the city is not a tree.
Duration 20 minutes.
No chatwindow.
In the frame of 6PM YOUR LOCAL TIME, curated by Fabio Paris for Link Art Center. With the collaboration of OUDEIS, laboratoire pour les arts numériques, électroniques et médiatiques in Le Vigan, France.

June 11th 2015 : besides, the person I am becoming.
Duration 20 minutes.
With public chatwindow.
This performance was part of a series of three performances : a Turbulence commission made possible with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Martina Ruhsam is working as a choreographer, performer and writer. From October 2008 to March 2009 she was (vicarious) head of the theorycentre in Tanzquartier Wien. In 2011 her book “Kollaborative Praxis: Choreographie” was published by Turia + Kant. Her artistic work and collaborations were presented at various venues and festivals (among others: Wiener Festwochen, Tanzquartier Wien, brut, Kino Siska, Mladi Levi Festival, Museum for Applied Arts Vienna, Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova) – predominantly in Austria and Slovenia. Martina Ruhsam was teaching in Maska´s Seminar for Performing Arts (Ljubljana) and was lecturing internationally. She is a member of the editorial board of Maska. Performing Arts Journal and is regularly contributing articles to the magazine. She published essays in several publications dedicated to the performing arts (f.i. Martina Ruhsam: „Die Inszenierung des Dokuments“, in: Sigrid Gareis/Georg Schöllhammer/Peter Weibel (ed.), exhibition catalogue, Karlsruhe: ZKM, 2012). Currently she is completing a Phd at the Justus Liebig University in Gießen.

Annie Abrahams has a doctoraal (M2) in biology from the University of Utrecht and a MA2 from the Academy of Fine Arts of Arnhem. In her work, using video and performance as well as the internet, she questions the possibilities and limits of communication in general and more specifically investigates its modes under networked conditions. She is known worldwide for her netart and collective writing experiments and is an internationally regarded pioneer of networked performance art.
From 2002 till 2005 she taught at the University of Montpellier in the Arts Department. She curated and organized the project InstantS from 2006 to 2009 and the Breaking Solitude and Double Bind webperformances series in 2007, 2008 and 2009 for panoplie.org. In 2012 she co­organised the first Cyposium – online symposium on cyberformance, and published an article on webcam mediated communication and collaboration in JAR #2. In 2013 she started with Emmanuel Guez the ReadingClub project, an online venue for collaborative reading and writing performances. In 2014 she published two books : from estranger to e­stranger with CONA and Aksioma, Ljubljana; and CyPosium ­ the book, co­edited with Helen Varley Jamieson and published by by LINK Editions. Extensive bio+cv.

Photoset of besides, on flickr.

*They will interrogate how the communication in front of (or is it behind) a webcam is influenced by the possibilities and limits of this body in the frame of a performance in what Annie Abrahams called a universe of lonely togetherness. In her article Trapped to Reveal - On webcam mediated communication and collaboration published in 2012 in JAR, Journal of Artistic Research, you can find more about the background of her collaborative webcam performance projects while focussing on / trying to determine the special aspects of machine mediated communication and collaboration. http://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/18236/18237.