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Telepresence Toolbox


April 2023 – March 2024
Kunstakademie Münster
Kunstakademie Düsseldorf


Telepresence Toolbox is a project at the Kunstakademie Münster in cooperation with the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, organized by Prof. Nicoline van Harskamp (performative art, K.M.) and Prof. Lena Newton (stage design, K.D.). In the coming year, a team of students, staff and guests of both academies will create an online platform and a physical equipment set, dedicated to live streaming events and performative works. It will be available for use for members of both institutions for the subsequent 5 years. The project starts with a symposium and a workshop day about the practice and theory of online performance since the 1980’s. You can find more information about this Zoom Performance Symposium below.

Telepresence Toolbox is funded by a Digi Fellowship of the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rine-Westfalia, Germany.

All project updates will appear on the website www.telepresencetoolbox.org. For questions, registration or to join the student team, please write us.

Zoom Performance Symposium


Friday June 30, 12.00 – 19.00
Kunstakademie Münster
Leonardocampus 2
48149 Münster Germany


We invite you to be present at the Zoom Performance Symposium, hosted by the Kunstakademie Münster in collaboration with the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.

Zoom Performance
Like ‘zoom fatigue’ and ‘zoom party’, the term ‘zoom performance’ has become a catch-all for a phenomenon from the years 2020-2021: the forms of online live performances that make use of video conferencing platforms. Although many other such platforms exist, Zoom became a typical feature of the pandemic experience of artists and art students and their audiences. In the post-pandemic moment, we want to examine what has been produced online, and how we can expand on a discipline that is much more than a product of circumstance. What streamed performance practices and what hybrid practices – where liveness occurs in person and online simultaneously – exist today? What tradition is it indebted to?

Since the 1980’s, artists have performed their work via computer platforms, many of which were also originally designed to enable (spoken) information exchange. Practices previously known as Cyberformance, Virtual Theatre, Telepresence Art or Networked Performance incorporated the input of audiences in ways not previously seen in live performance. The nature of the works changed along with the technologies but there is much to be learned from the early makers.

Prof. Nicoline van Harskamp, and Prof. Lena Newton bring together a group of practitioners and theorists from different fields and generations. They will all be present in Münster, and we welcome audiences in person and online.

Presence
First, we want to consider how online performers or online audience members can create presence, and what constitutes performativity in the digital sphere. The symposium will start with the theatrical work of Mallika Taneja (India), whose award-winning performance Allegedly was made in 2020 with a large cast of women, performing from their homes during lockdown. Then Jana Kerima and Lex Rütten (Germany) will question physicality and humanness through their digital art works.

Technology
Technology defines the form of art works in the digital realm through its technical features, as well as through its accessibility. Media and technology critique has been inherent to Net Art from its early days. Many works use a glitch aesthetic, by misusing technology up to the point of break-down. Joan Heemskerk of the art collective JODI (Netherlands) will present works like My Desktop OS X 10.4.7. Theatre maker Pablo Fontdevila (Argentina/Netherlands) talks about The Visit, a one-to-one online performance he developed during the first 2020 lockdown, that uses features of basic consumer technology to create a theatrical setting. For this symposium, the audience is invited to take part in an experiment using their laptops or other devices.

Intermediality
Working with online tools means working in several spaces simultaneously, and allowing for various forms of participation, feedback, and evaluation. Artist Ali Eslami (Iran) presents False Mirror, a complex ongoing work that comprises a a lecture, a performance, and a VR installation.

Theory and Curriculum
Scholar Clara Gomes (Portugal) introduces some key works in so-called Cyberformance, and the theoretical foundation for the three main themes of the symposium: presence, technology and intermediality. We will connect live with a parallel symposium at the Research Centre for Arts and Communication in Faro (Portugal), about the development of a new pedagogical model for teaching cyberperformance in higher education.

Attendance in person or online, free of charge. Registration needed for non-members of the Kunstakademie Münster. Send us an email and you will receive a Zoom link /visitor information: vanharskamp@kunstakademie-muenster.de

Workshop Day


Saturday July 1st, 10.00 – 17.00
Kunstakademie Münster
Leonardocampus 2
48149 Münster Germany


Mallika Taneja and Pablo Fontvilla will each give a one-day workshop for students and guests in Münster. In the final hour of the workshop day, both groups will be able to watch and discuss each others’ results.

Workshop Mallika Taneja
In the performance Allegedly, built as an ongoing negotiation with understanding questions of consent, Mallika Taneja seeks to spark conversations at the intersection of sexual violence, justice and our personal predicaments. A work forever in progress, it opens up the contradictions, confusions and irregularities of our own behaviors and solidarities. For this piece, Mallika worked with a group of 20 women, each in their own home, via Zoom.

During the workshop, Mallika and participants will address, in practice and in theory, what it means to be fully present in the confines of a Zoom frame, and how to direct and connect a group of performers remotely. They will experiment with each other in a work space and via zoom simultaneously, making a short performative work for people to witness online. More detailed information about this workshop will follow shortly.

No technical or theatrical experience needed. Participants need to bring their own laptop with access to Zoom. If this is not possible, another mobile device with access to Zoom may also work. Participants need to bring one or more simple lighting devices from their homes (lamps, string lights, etc.).

Mallika Taneja is a Delhi-based theatre artist. Her most recent works include Do You Know This Song?, Zanana ka Zamana (Time of the Femme) – built during the country-wide anti CAA movement, Aksar; and Yunhi.. Mehsoos Hota Hai (Often, sometimes…It feels like this) — a reflection on mental health and the mundane. Her piece Be Careful talks about the discourse of women and ’safety’, and has toured widely internationally. She also started interventions like Women Walk at Midnight, Sex Chat Room and an arts initiative called Lost & Found.

Images: Allegedly by Mallika Taneja (zoom screen grabs)

Workshop Pablo Fontdevila
In the performance The Visit, theatre maker Pablo Fontdevila proposes a remote encounter through a video call. Working with diverse formats (one to one, groups), it explores questions of connection, intimacy and presence by subverting the habitual use of the computer screen. The work starts with a simple but powerful gesture: inviting the audience to look away from the computer. Moving literally beyond the screen by using words, sound and lights, the work produces a touching experience in the space, leaving the audience with the memory of a ghostly visit.

During the workshop, Pablo and participants will focus on the basic device of the performance: using the computer screen as a light source. With simple means, they will explore ways in which the technology can be hijacked. They will experiment with creating images only to look away from them, turning high definition screens into inefficient projectors. Along the way, they will discuss how movement produces presence and how to think about the relation between movement and vision.

No technical or theatrical experience needed. Participants need to bring their own laptop with access to Zoom. If this is not possible, another mobile device with access to Zoom may also work.

Pablo Fontdevila is a choreographer, performer and designer born in Argentina and based in Amsterdam. With a focus on processes and emergence, collaboration and working methodologies, he explores ethical questions through the movement of bodies and minds. His current work has a strong focus on non-human actors: words that perform and lighting that moves. Within the framework ‘Vision with/out Image’, he currrently works with the remote performance The Visit, the installation Remarks in Colour and the object-publication The Green Box.

Workshop attendance in-person only, free of charge. Registration needed for non-members of the Kunstakademie Münster. Send us an email and you will receive more information: vanharskamp@ kunstakademie-muenster.de

Prior to the symposium and/or the workshop days, we suggest that visitors have a look at these online works:

Hole in Space, 1981
by Galloway and Reibinovitz

Episode 1, 2010
by Auto Italia Live

I am a Helicopter, Camera, Queen, 2013
by Every Ocean Hughes
at Tate Live: Performace Room

End Meeting for All, 2020
by Forced Entertainment

Before the First, 2020
Compiled by Annie Abrahams, Helen Varley Jamieson and Suzon Fuks

Images top to bottom: I am a Helicopter, Camera, Queen by Every Ocean Hughes (screen grab); Hole in Space by Galloway and Rabinowitz (screen grab); End Meeting for All by Forced Entertainment (screen grab).