Collaborative online performance with Douglas Paulson, 2011, screen capture
In many ways participation in the elaborate communication networks that now underlie social interaction is no longer a matter of choice, since failure to participate is, in many demographics, akin to social withdrawal. Our decision to connect with and perform within online networks also plays an increasingly large role in determining professional success. The question, however, is what are the other effects of our growing reliance on online communication and community on our lives, culture, and society?
Gretta Louw’s 10 day online perfromance Controlling_Connectivity used the pervasiveness of internet-based social networking, as well as the obligation and opportunity for constant connection with these platforms as a paradigm for a severe and systematic disruption of normal patterns of life.
Text based video piece including an interview with Dr. Leon Tan
For 10 days the artist was available 24 hr/day for discussions, emails, comments, or interviews of both private and professional nature for any internet user wishing to take part in the project. All necessary supplies were stored within a gallery space of Art Laboratory Berlin, and the windows were blacked out to ensure that the environment was not normalised by natural light or social rhythms outside, but defined purely by the internet connection to external participants. A number of planned online events (the artist’s 30th birthday, live talks and an online performance with partners in New York, interviews with press, etc.) were scheduled at intervals throughout the performance, which for teh most part included spontaneous interactions with other Internet users. These social and professional pressures became progressively more difficult to fulfill as sleep deprivation and isolation took effect.
The performance version of Controlling_Connectivity took part from 2-12 November, 2011 and was followed by an exhibition at Art Laboratory Berlin, and in early 2012, a catalogue.