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Published Conference Proceedings - Paper
November 2009

Puppeteers, Performers or Avatars - A perceptual difference in telematic space

Sermon, P 2009, Puppeteers, Performers or Avatars - A perceptual difference in telematic space , in: 'CHArt 2009 - OBJECT AND IDENTITY IN A DIGITAL AGE', Birkbeck, University of London, London, United Kingdom. Conference details: CHArt COMPUTERS AND THE HISTORY OF ART SeeingżVision and Perception in a Digital Culture CHArt twenty-fourth Annual Conference, Thursday 6 - Friday 7 November 2008, Birkbeck, University of London, Clore Lecture Theatre, Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, London, WC1 7HX. .

Abstract

 My work in the field of telematic arts explores the emergence of a user-determined narrative by bringing remote participants together in a shared telepresent environment. Through the use of live chroma-keying and videoconferencing technology, two public rooms or installations and their audiences are joined in a virtual duplicate that turns into a mutual, visual space of activity. Linked via an H.323 Internet videoconference connection, this form of immersive interactive exchange can be established between almost any two locations in the world.

 

The audiences form an integral part within these telematic experiments, which simply wouldn’t function without their presence and participation. Initially the viewers seem to enter a passive space, but they are instantly thrown into the performer role by discovering their own body-double in communication with another physically remote user on video monitors in front of them. They usually adapt to the situation quickly and start controlling and choreographing their human avatar. Nevertheless, the installation set up in the form of an open accessible platform offers a second choice of engagement: the passive mode of just observing the public action, which often appears to be a well-rehearsed piece of drama confidently played out by actors. Compelling to watch, it can be a complex issue to discover that the performers are also part of the audience and are merely engaging in a role. The entire installation space then represents two dynamic dramatic functions: the players, controllers, or puppeteers of their own avatar, absorbed by the performing role; and the off-camera members of the audience, who are themselves awaiting the next available slot on the telematic stage, soon to be sharing this split dynamic. However, the episodes that unfold are not only determined by the participants, but by the given dramatic context. As an artist I am both designer of the environment and therefore ‘director’ of the narrative, which I determine through the social and political milieu that I choose to play out in these telepresent encounters.

Authors

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Publication Details

Conference Proceedings
Sermon, P ed. 2009, CHArt 2009 - OBJECT AND IDENTITY IN A DIGITAL AGE, Birkbeck, University of London, London, United Kingdom.

Conference Details
CHArt COMPUTERS AND THE HISTORY OF ART SeeingżVision and Perception in a Digital Culture CHArt twenty-fourth Annual Conference, Thursday 6 - Friday 7 November 2008, Birkbeck, University of London, Clore Lecture Theatre, Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, London, WC1 7HX.