Software and performance
Performance on December 15, 2010, McCormack Theatre, Brown University
The video camera cut off in the middle, but my performance continued as the alerts consumed the screen and I quit in frustration. Click here for full text of the blog entry.
I sit at the laptop and type my stream of consciousness onto a projected screen. The interface replicates posting on Livejournal. As I type, my words and phrases become the seeds for Web scraping. A live stream of representations of the phrase from Google generates, embodying the aesthetics and syntax of Web 2.0. These popups distract me. I could write about them in my blog entry, which generates new content, which will influence me, which will generate new content, and so on. Eventually, the page, and my stream of consciousness, is completely obscured by a continually generating feed of dynamic elements, representations of distraction online in the present.
The performance emphasizes the interaction between the streams of consciousness of human and machine. It also brings in my own perspective as someone who spent her formative years blogging and has nostalgia for Internet past. I have outlined what I’m going to write about, but leave the actual words to be “generated” during the performance.
Think about that feverish, meditative state you get at night, when you’re on the Internet instead of sleeping. Web browsing can be a representation of, or an extension of, a stream of consciousness. I’m interested in the changing cultural and personal implications of the Internet (Web 1.0 vs. 2.0), and I want to explore this through online manifestations of concentration and distraction.
I kept a blog, in one incarnation or another, from 2003 on. I can safely say that I blogged my adolescence, much of it at night when I couldn’t sleep. On late nights now, sometimes I get into a nostalgic mood and go through old blog entries or post another one. Yet I constantly get distracted. I want to capture that sort of stream of consciousness.
The performance embodies the performative aspect of blogging. The term “blog” slips on the line between its old and new meanings – first as a personal online diary, second as a social presence enmeshed in an active blogosphere. I write with my back to the audience: they see my writing but not my face, and I don’t see them. My foggy awareness of my audience influences my stream of consciousness, whether written or not. The public that I do not see, yet get distracted by, mirrors the online public distracting me before my eyes.
Performed at Brown University in 2010, Modern Language Association Convention and Digital Revolutions in 2012, and WordHack in 2016.