In a discussion with a performamce artist who recently created and performed an interactive Internet2 production with a site in another country, we agreed that such events reveal that I2 is a new performance medium. Simply put, Internet2 is a broadband Internet highway that permits streaming back and forth of multiple video and audio channels (although I understand I2 originally referred to a consortium of institutions). I had become involved in I2 interactive productions since 2001. Such performances can include dancers, musicians, poets, composers, choreographers, and other performers, a well as videographers, graphic and video designers, sound designers, multiple camera operators, lighting designers, Internet engineers and technical support personnel. Both locations performed in experimental or conventional theatres before live audiences. Both productions used multiple projection screens in which processed materials were combined with live images and sound to create a multimedia experience that was unique ro each location, and yet, each production was inclusive of the other and the two creative works formed a whole whose fabric was the resonance of the electronic exchanges and live interaction enveloped in the latency created by the distance collaboration. Even though the dual location production was highly structured by the use of scenes and transitions, at the heart of the performance was improvisation. The immediacy and spontaneity present from the live interactive responses of artists separated by thousands of miles can be exhilerating and energizing, giving rise to wonderful ideas born of the moment.
We both agreed that coordinating multimedia and structure at different sites calls for new ideas in narrative and a new vocabulary to define this new medium. We also agreed that this language should emerge from the active engagement and interaction of creative artists working with this dynamic new medium. Marshall McLuhan in Understanding Media helped us understand that each new medium undergoes a period in which it digests the content of previous media before it finds its own idiosyncratic characteristics.
But we need new performance spaces/studios in which the new technologies are integral to the production facilities, where the conventional computer screens and consoles are transparent so that the focus is on the interactive immediacy more than on the technology, for ultimately it is the texture of the artwork/medium itself that can push the envelope of technology as this promising new venue discovers its own unique characteristics and identity.
photos by Chianan Yen