Intimate TV: Webcamming & Social Life-logging In the Surveillant-Sousveillant Space

Our proposal for this panel attempts to fill in such gap by looking at the genealogy of personal video-streaming and its place within art research on webcamming and the surveillant-sousveillant space.
Sunday, 18 September, 2011 - 13:00 - 14:30
Chair Person: 
Paula Roush
Chair Person: 
Maria Lusitano
Annie Abrahams
Margarida Carvalho
Cinzia Cremona
Eunice Gonçalves Duarte
Helen Varley Jamieson
Screencapture performance Huis Clos / No Exit - On Collaboration 2, CECN , Mons
Wish You Were Here, 24 hour skype performative installation
Screen capture from the premiere performance of "make-shift"
Intimate TV

Chair: Paula Roush
2nd Chair: Maria Lusitano

For this panel we propose to reflect upon the practice of digital performance with the use of webcams, addressing issues of intimacy in the network. Webcamming refers to the use of webcams to stream live from personal environments to the internet, and develop life-logs that archive such practices as online documentations of the everyday. Webcamming practices have been theorised with different results from within the areas of digital performance /cyberformance. On the one hand, an historical account of digital performance equates the use of webcams in the hands of artists with the “subversion of surveillance,” and an ironic questioning of webcam’s myths of authenticity and immediacy. The field of cyberformance, on the other hand, theorises webcamming in the context of increasing online participation, and the types of collaborations it facilitates within web 2.0 environments. However, none of these analyses addresses the increasing intimacy facilitated by the mainstream use of surveillance/communicational  technologies for personal video streaming and archiving, or the particular aesthetic  and subversive spectatorial  positions that inform such intimate video practices.  Our proposal for this panel attempts to fill in such gap by looking at the genealogy of personal video-streaming and its place within art research on webcamming and the surveillant-sousveillant space.

1.What are the characteristics of cyberformance in the context of networks of intimacy? What defines  its particular aesthetics and the spectatorial positions that inform such intimate video practices?

2. Now that people’s lives are performed for the Internet and distributed across multiple social networks as chunks of self-authored content, is it still possible to separate or distinguish performance art from the performative stream of everyone else’s lives?

3.How is online performance conceptualised from a contemporary art and media surveillance-sousveillance perspective?

Paper Abstracts

Exercises in remote collaboration - Huis Clos / No Exit - (or, "how cyberformance reveals intimacy")

by Annie Abrahams

In 2009 I started the artistic research project Huis Clos / No Exit (

Part of it is an ongoing networked performance series investigating collaboration, that I will discuss in this panel. In this project I use a specially developed interface to unite several people remotely in a shared performance space which becomes subsequently both a laboratory and a play ground. The experiences in this series, as with other experiences in cyberformance, might suggest that today’s  intimacy is no longer revealed through private images but through shared behaviour captured in real time interactions. I hope to end the presentation with a short demonstration of a remote caress.

Masks, Membranes, Passages: Notes on participation and networked performance

by Margarida Carvalho

In 1972, Robert Whitman, one of the founders of the famous collective of artists and engineers Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) in the sixties, conceived the performance News that was broadcast live on WBAI New York radio and can be considered as a forerunner of today's participatory culture and digital media, more specifically of contemporary artistic experimentation in the field of networked performance. In News the participants, who were spread across various locations in the city, telephoned to the radio station and described what they were seeing. A network of voices was then woven, a city sound map that juxtaposed prosaic reports and testimonies of everyday life marked by subjectivity and poetic description.    

News laid the foundation for a subsequent series of performances, including works such as 21st Century Happening and Local Report, in which the basic structure is similar: thirty people at different locations of a city, who call (with five-minute intervals between each call) and describe what they see at that moment. The calls are broadcast live through the intervention of Robert Whitman who ends the call when the participant creates a coherent image.

Whitman's performances News, 21st Century Happening and Local Report are based on technological networks and also work the network from a conceptual and expressive point of view as far as they create an assemblage of audio and visual fragments, and because they invoke the rhizomatic, diffuse and affective experience of our memory. In this sense they are exemplary works to introduce the theme of participation and “live” combination in the networked performance with the particularity of also giving us a historical perspective on our subject of study.

In 2004, Jo-Anne Green, Michelle Riel and Helen Thorington (editors and curators of the project) defined the scope of networked performance as being any live event based on a network, particularly digital networks. Nowadays, the ubiquity, mobility and convergence of digital media enhances the intensification of the experience of telepresence that is entwined in the distributed nature of networked performance. This paper intends to contribute to a critical reflection on experimenting with audience participation in artistic practices of networked performance.

Skype and videoperformance: How good to see you!

by Cinzia Cremona

This paper explores some potential uses of Skype in videoperformance practices. Skype embodies the paradoxes of screen-mediated videoperformance and screen-mediated communication with its illusion of transparency and immediacy, its distance between camera and image on screen, performed eye contact, and effective relational performativity.

Starting from the documentation of an experiment conducted during a weeklong residency in Colchester, UK, I will examine some relational aspects of Skype, moving between straightforward one-to-one communication, and live and recorded performances.

Inside Out: Surveilling and Safeguarding for a Healthy You!

by Eunice Gonçalves Duarte

Throughout my life I have been radiographed, sonographed, scanned, and had my blood pressure, bone structure, muscular mass and heart beats measured... I keep myself safe. Any strange anomaly can be detected, photographed and analysed. Surveillance is needed. Technology is needed for surveillance to persist. In the name of health and well-being, one is advised to watch, to prevent and obey medical procedures. Continuously, I am presented with images mediated by technology, pertaining to a code I can not access for I lack the knowledge to interpret it, and yet they proliferate around me – private, intimate, images of lungs, of an ovary, of a defaulted organ, of an unborn baby…

This is a paper-performance on the politics involved in the surveillance of the self, questioning technology as a “bio-tool” for communication of internal images that are engaged with the self. This is also a bio-paper-performance of the performer’s body, watching herself being watched by medical machinery, exposing a series of personal medical images. Continuing the work I have been developing concerning intimate technology and intimate stories, I intend to explore the aesthetic of technologies that surround our everyday life.

Exercises in remote intimacy (or, "when web-casting IS cyberformance")

by Helen Varley Jamieson

A  year ago, I wrote a blog post entitled "why web-casting is not cyberformance" (, inspired by a number of proposals to the UpStage festival that assumed this was a platform for web-casting. I argued that, in its simplest form, web-casting uses the internet as a broadcast medium, to make something that exists offline accessible to a wider audience; whereas with cyberformance, the site of the performance is the internet, the performance is significantly shaped by this, and does not exist without the internet. In this paper I will further explore these ideas by discussing examples from my own cyberformance work that include web-cast elements. In particular I will address questions posed by this panel relating to the separation of performance art from the performative stream of daily lives, and the aesthetics and spectatorial positions that inform networked performance practices.

Bios of the Participants

Paula Roush

Paula Roush is an artist-educator-researcher. She is the founder of msdm (, a platform for mobile strategies of display & mediation, encompassing online technologies and site-specific approaches to participatory art. She is a lecturer at the London South Bank University and University of Westminster, where she leads courses on artists works with archives, publications and the area of  digital performance.

Her work has been shown internationally, including: Play Gallery, Sparwasser and Kunstraum Bethanien/ Berlin; GAK: Gesellschaft fur Aktuelle Kunst/ Bremen; Bauhaus Foundation/ Dessau; Centro Cultural de Espana/ Montevideo; Museu da Cidade, Centro de Arte Moderna Jose Azeredo Perdigao/ Lisbon; W139/ Amsterdam; Iniva, Coleman Project Space, 198 gallery, Cubitt Gallery, Space, Elastic Residence and South London Gallery/ London; Galleria Nazionale Veletrzni Palac/ Prague; Overgaden Gallery/ Copenhagen; Living Art Museum/ Reykjavik.

She also co-curated Local Worlds: Spaces, Visibilities and Transcultural Flows, Centro Cultural de Lagos, Welcome Goodbye Adeus Obrigada: Journeys, Dislocations and Imaginary Nations, Blue Elephant Theatre, London, Postscript: Portuguese Live Art in the Age of Scripted Reality, Space, London and Outsourcing: Creative Collision Between Artist and Curator, inIVA, London.

Maria Lusitano

Maria Lusitano is an artist from Portugal. In 2009 she completed her  MA in Fine Art  at the Malmö Art Academy in Sweden and is currently doing  a PhD at the University of Westminster UK.  She participated and exhibited in various events such as Manifesta 5,  Photo Espana 6 Madrid,  LundsKonstHall, Sweden, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, 29th Biennial of Sao Paulo and  Joshibi University Museum,Tokyo.

In parallel to their individual practice, Paula Roush and Maria Lusitano have collaborated as Webcam operators, a collective assembled in 2009 to research networked performativity. They have  worked within videostreaming platforms, Second Life and webcam communities, producing online-offline actions. The outcome of this process have been various performances and performative lectures, installations and short films, presented at AGM09: under control and Radiator Festival (Derby), Zavod P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E./ Gallery P74 (Ljubljana), Living Room10 (Auckland), Channel TV at the Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof/ (Hamburg) and  Sput-e-nick Space (Porto).

Annie Abrahams

Annie Abrahams  has a doctoral degree in biology from the university of Utrecht and a BA from the Academy of fine arts of Arnhem.  In her work with video,  performance and  the internet, she questions the possibilities and the limits of communication in general and more specifically investigates its modes under networked conditions. She is an internationally regarded pioneer of networked performance art.

She has performed and shown work extensively in France, including at the Pompidou Centre, Paris, and in many international galleries including Espai d’Art Contemporani de Castelló, Spain; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art, Yerevan; HTTP gallery in London and NIMk in Amsterdam; festivals such as the Moscow Film Festival; the International Film Festival of Rotterdam and the Stuttgarter Filmwinter, and on online platforms such as and Turbulence.

She taught at the university of Montpellier in the arts department. (2002-2005) From November 2006 to January 2009 she curated the project “InstantS” for  She also curated and organized the “Breaking Solitude” and Double Bind webperformances on in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

In addition to her artistic practice, she lectures and teaches workshops.   and

Margarida Carvalho

Margarida Carvalho holds a BA and a MA in Communication Sciences by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities of the New University of Lisbon (FCSH/UNL). She has been a faculty member at the School of Communication and Media Studies (Lisbon Polytechnic Institute) since 1998 where she currently lectures the courses of “Art and Communication” and “Semiology”.
Margarida is now working on her doctoral thesis on the subject of participation in digital arts at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities of the New University of Lisbon. From September 2009 onwards she was awarded a PhD scholarship under the program to support advanced training for higher education polytechnic teachers (PROTEC). In the academic year 2008-2009, she received a doctoral scholarship from the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia as part of the UT Austin | Portugal program. Her main areas of research are new media art, participatory media and digital culture.

Her book Híbridos Tecnológicos was published by Nova Vega editors in 2007. The collaboration in the research project Trends on Portuguese Networks Culture resulted in the writing of the chapters “Hibridação” and “Práticas de em Portugal” of the book As Artes Tecnológicas e a Rede Internet em Portugal (Lisboa, Nova Vega, 2009). From 2001 to 2004 Margarida joined the editorial team of the online quarterly journal Interact – Revista de Arte, Cultura e Tecnologias, issued by Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Linguagens of the FCSH/UNL.

Margarida has published several papers including:
2010 (forthcoming) "Weaving Encounters: Towards an Art of Participation", paper presented at the international conference Unneeded Conversations: Practice and Theory of Art, Porto, Faculdade de Belas Artes of Universidade do Porto.
2009 "Affective Territories", In INFLeXions, volume 3. [Online]. Available at:
2008 “Mapas Imaginários”, In Virose, secção b#21, Outubro. [Online]. Available at

Cinzia Cremona

Cinzia Cremona is an artist and researcher working with video, performance, photography and digital media in relational, collaborative and participatory ways. Her intimate video performances focus on personal relationships and social interactions, and form the core of a practice-based PhD at the University of Westminster, London. Her photographic and moving image work has been exhibited internationally.

Cinzia has been co-curating the annual moving image exhibition Visions in the Nunnery at the Nunnery Gallery, London. Based on an international open submission, this project has included performance events and conferences, and has shown well-works by known artists like Michael Nyman, Franko B, Karen Knorr and Alan Smith along side those of emerging artists and students. Since 2007 she has been an active member of Critical Practice, a research cluster hosted by Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, Between 2010 and 2011 she worked as an Associate Artist with firstsite, Colchester, UK. She currently is MA visiting lecturer at The Colchester Institute, Colchester, UK.

Eunice Gonçalves Duarte

Eunice Gonçalves Duarte is a portuguese performance artist and researcher on the uses of low tech in digital performance. She has a BA in Communication and Culture Sciences and in 2002 completed the MA in Contemporary Drama Studies in the University College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland).

She is currently a PhD student in Universidade de Coimbra, developing a thesis on the aesthetics of digital performance.
Eunice has worked with theatre companies and theatre practitioners in Portugal and in Europe and since 2003, has researched digital media in theater and performance. Recently she directed the low tech digital performance “a história é clandestina” (‘stealth stories’).

In addition to her artistic practice, Eunice Gonçalves Duarte lectures theatre and performance at the Instituto Superior de Ciências Educativas (Lisbon, Portugal).

Helen Varley Jamieson

Helen Varley Jamieson is a writer, theatre practitioner and digital artist from New Zealand. In 2008 she completed a Master of Arts (research) at Queensland University of Technology (Australia) investigating her practice of cyberformance - live performance on the internet – which she has been developing for over a decade. She is a founding member of the globally-dispersed cyberformance troupe Avatar Body Collision, and the project manager of UpStage, an open source web-based platform for cyberformance. Using UpStage, she has co-curated online festivals involving artists and audiences around the world. Helen is also the "web queen" of the Magdalena Project, an international network of women in contemporary theatre.