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From November 17th to 25th 2008 I was with Clément Charmet invited for the International Laboratory Interactive digital media on stage in L’animal a l’esquena, 17460 Celrà (GIRONA).

We started working on my new web performance project Huis Clos - No Exit.

The laboratory made it possible to test the technical and performative possibilities of a three webcam version of the project. Thanks to the cooperation of three students of L'animal's master program we could pay special attention to remote body communication.

The laboratory was organised by NU2's.

June 11th 2009 projet presentation, Thursday Club Event, Goldsmiths Digital Studios, London.

The project continued as an artistic research project
Huis Clos / No Exit
2009 - 2012

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Huis Clos / No Exit
A networked performance investigating collaboration.

How do we do this? What limits us? How to articulate individual goals with common ones? What about our desires, hate and anger? How to handle our hormones?

Shifts, interruptions, cuts, flux variations, temporary vacuums and coding errors in and between the images, are the aesthetic materials of the performance that will translate the possibilities and the limits of our capacities to be together in a cyberized environment.

Photo to the left: Webstation tent (right), projection of webstram mosaic (left). Photo to the right: Inside webstation with Anna performing. Photos Eloi Maduell

During the laboratory we tested a set-up with three webcam stations and two control stations. Five computers were connected via intranet using wifi.
Each webcam station was located in another part of the space so that the dancers who acted in front of them couldn't see one another.
The interface on the five computers showed the three webcam streams in a mosaic. This way the performers were united in one single image that was projected on a wall for the visitors to see. This image with its internal borders was the shared interaction space, the playground, the laboratory where the dancers tested four performance protocols.

Maria Claudia in front of her webcam station during a test. Photo Eloi Maduell

Each protocol consisted of several separated actions or chorus meant to study remote collaboration and interaction possibilities. Some concerned only movement, others also used the voice.
The first session started with the three dancers taking their webcam and focusing its image on their mouth. When all three arrived at a correct image they started to sing the lullaby they knew best. Via an abstract eye ballet and an expression of different emotions using only two eyes they returned to an image of their three silent mouths.

Webcam communication is intimate communication mediated by machines. I state that remote communication exaggerates the properties and conditions of the communication itself. It profits and suffers from its flaws and capacities. By using a destabilising context for this communication we have access to amplified human behaviour.

Using the "Huis Clos / No Exit" interface was disturbing to the performers for several reasons.
*The delay in transmission wasn't the same for the five connected computers, which disturbed the dancers natural feeling for timing and rhythm.
Webcam images reverse the movements of the persons in front of them. The movements they ordinary made so smoothly didn't give the image they expected and so they had to leave their automatisms and invent each movement even the simplest as new.
Constructing an image together means using the eyes a lot more than most people are used to do, or at least it means using them differently. I tried to explain to the dancers they should use the webcam as a drawing tool, that they should continually be aware of the result of every action on the shared image and I challenged them to complicate the experience even more by moving the webcam by hand every now and than.

3 studies on video :

Two more short studies : "Could you kiss me?","Show me your ugly face"

Annie Abrahams  

Protocol no 4.