Third Space Network
The Third Space Network (3SN) is an Internet broadcast channel for the live media arts and creative dialogue. In 2017, we are beginning our first programming with Networked Conversations, a series of Internet chats with pioneering media artists, curators, writers, and activists. 3SN is a project of Randall Packer in conjunction with research at the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, where he is an Associate Professor of Networked Art.
With the integration of today’s global broadband Internet connections, social media and mobile devices, the technological possibilities for live broadcasting have advanced dramatically. And yet, online broadcasting remains fertile ground as an experimental medium for artistic investigation. Motivated by this potentiality, we are introducing the idea of the Third Space Network, an Internet artists channel for live expression facilitated by distributed networks of artists, viewers, softwares, and organizations.
The aspiration of the Third Space Network is to stimulate a new form of socially-based participatory media arts broadcasting within the thriving digital culture that has added Internet media to traditional forms of television broadcasting. The Third Space Network embraces the idea of participation in a real-time, collaborative broadcast community. It is our intention to rethink the anachronistic paradigm of the centralized one-to-many broadcasting modality to a shift towards peer-to-peer broadcasted art that creatively joins virtual and physical spaces with technical imagination, conceptual thinking, social sensibilities, activist voices, and aesthetic choices: live media art made by “artist-broadcasters” exploring a collective approach to Internet streaming.
The Third Space Network is intended to connect and make interchangeable maker and viewer in the immediacy of the live broadcast to discover and make accessible the kinds of artworks, experiences, explorations, and interactions that can only be derived from globally networked media that collapses geographical and cultural boundaries.
The concept of the Third Space Network has emerged from the Art of the Networked Practice | Online Symposium [i] and NetArtizens Project, organized by Randall Packer and Furtherfield’s Marc Garrett and Ruth Catlow at the School of Art, Design and Media of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. The symposium was conceived as a platform for creative dialogue to explore and debate the role of the network in our individual and collective practice as artists, scholars, educators, and citizens of the Internet. The project was sparked through our ongoing exploration of live, transglobal communications as a catalyst for collective art and discourse: social engagement central to the Furtherfield ethos.
The NetArtizens Project was first conducted as a social experiment across 3 network channels: the NetBehaviours Mailing List, Twitter @NetArtizens, and the 0P3NR3P0.net [ii] open database repository for media art. Over 200 artists participated in the project, a peer collaboration involving exchanges of wordplay, critical discourse, collective art, and a group organized showcase of net art submitted by the artists, NetArtizens Open Online Exhibition: uncurated and unfiltered.
The Art of the Networked Practice | Online Symposium brought open, global access to an academic event: Web-conferenced live and free of charge to attendees from over 40 countries around the world. Speakers and audiences collectively participated in keynotes and online panel discussions exploring topics that included: online arts education, collective research, and networked performance art. Performance artist Helen Varley Jamieson directed and performed a new cyberformance theater work with NTU students from her studio in Germany, while Furtherfield co-directors Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett conducted online interviews with artists in Europe and the US from their home East of London on the Thames Estuary.
It was in the spirit of this radical, distributed openness of multiple channels of communication, real-time discourse, distributed networks, and exhibition opportunity from all corners of the globe that has given rise to the Third Space Network. In the age of broadband communications: locality, distance, and travel funds should no longer be an inhibitor for active participation in the new media arts.
The concept of the Third Space Network draws from an extensive history of artists producing their own broadcast content and public media, which has precedence in the alternative press, pirate radio, public access television, and net art.
The first model for the Third Space Network was the Our World global satellite broadcast in 1967, an undertaking of incredible complexity. The program concept was to link up the world via early satellite technology, to demonstrate that we are all connected globally as “our world.” The ground rules for the show included that everything had to be live, and that no politicians or heads of state could be seen. The show included such luminaries as Marshall McLuhan and the Beatles performance All We Need is Love.
In the 1970s, Korean video art pioneer Nam June Paik predicted the future of the “information superhighway” [iii] by proclaiming that some day every artist would have their own television channel. Alongside a generation of emerging media artists, Paik advanced the artistic use of video, combined with viewer participation, as an expanded vision for the transformative power of media art across the globe.
During the 1970s and 1980s, video collectives such as Videofreex, TVTV, Raindance (Radical Software), Paper Tiger TV, and Deep Dish TV in the US and across Europe, claimed pirate TV and public access television as their medium. Media artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz were creating performance and installation works exploring the third space, such as the seminal 1980 Hole in Space, as well as the Electronic Café in conjunction with the Olympic Arts Festival in 1984.
Coinciding with the availability of affordable video cameras these independent, decentralized public art TV networks mobilized people to make their own media, rather than being passive consumers of centrally constructed broadcast programming. They attempted to democratize the media by facilitating people-to-people communication, altering the themes and aesthetics of commercial television: activating the production of media around a proliferation of local issues expressed by a range of marginalized communities.
In 1984 at the stroke of midnight, Good Morning, Mr. Orwell, organized by Nam June Paik, took place as a simultaneous broadcast from New York, Paris and San Francisco in response to George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. The work demonstrated how new media collaboration could contradict the Orwellian future, rather, empowering artists and audiences in an age of expanding communications technologies, to take control of electronic media for artistic purposes. Paik brought together John Cage, Laurie Anderson, Merce Cunningham, Joseph Beuys, and Allen Ginsberg, among others in a utopic realization of Marshall McLuhan’s concept of the “global village,” in which a community of artists participating across geographical distances could transform the broadcast medium into a collective space for live music, poetry, and performance.
Beginning in the mid 1990s, surging interest in net art advanced broadcasting to embrace new Internet streaming possibilities, to name a few: Jennifer Ringler’s seven-year self-surveillance project Jennicam (1996-2003); the online radio streaming project Radioqualia by Honor Harger and Adam Hyde (1998); Helen Varley Jamieson’s Cyberformance events and symposia beginning in 1999; the Walker Art Center’s translocal 24/7 channel How Latitude Becomes Forms: Art in a Global Age organized by curator Steve Dietz (2003); Webcam performance art by Annie Abrahams beginning in 2007; Roger Mills Ethernet Orchestra real-time telematic musical performance (2010);Randall Packer’s performance and media talk project, The Post Reality Show [v] (2011); and the Cyposium cyberformance symposium organized by Abrahams and Jamieson, et al, one of the most ambitious collaborative efforts to document the current state of Internet performance art as an experimental artistic medium.
It is this ongoing history and evolution of networked art that has inspired The Third Space Network to participate in the next generation of live broadcasting in the era of social media and mobile smart phone technology: re-imagined for today’s Internet television and its audiences.
Social broadcasting is here defined as an organized network of collaborating artists whose work consisting of performance, audio-visual art, and creative dialogue, coalesce across distance, cultures, and geographies via live transmission to a participatory Internet audience. Since the late 1990s, Furtherfield has been developing the concept of DIWO (Do it With Others) through the co-creation and presentation of socially-based artworks and workshops that catalyze many-to-many relations among artist, curators, and viewers. As an expansion of DIY (Do it Yourself), which suggests individualized activity, DIWO draws its framework from networked connections that lead to shared, distributed processes and interactions among artists and viewers. Marc Garrett describes peer-based practices in the arts as:
“The process is as important as the outcome, forming relationally aware peer enactments. It is a living art, exploiting contemporary forms of digital and physical networks as a mode of open praxis, as in the Greek word for doing, and as in, doing it with others.” [iv]
The Third Space Network builds on the concept of DIWO in the medium of social broadcasting through the collective organization of streaming artist programs emanating from geographically dispersed locations and situations. By aggregating broadcasts via cloud-based streaming, as well as encouraging collaborative forms of broadcasted artworks and events, participating artists are interconnected to form a network that reaches and engages a global audience. Unlike the hierarchical, corporate structure that controls commercially-driven, top down broadcast media, the Third Space Network is envisioned as a bottom-up artist-curated space that brings access to the Internet for live artworks, dialogue, and social action: collapsing the local and remote into a networked, shared “third space.” [vi]
The Third Space Network emphasizes the participatory and distributed nature of Internet broadcasting through its integration and insertion into online spaces. When integrated with social media and collaborative tools, the Third Space Network provides artists with an extensive platform for the invention of new forms of streaming artworks, news broadcasts, actions, and interventions that engage audiences as active, peer participants.
The Third Space Network will broadcast 24/7 via its own Internet channel, featuring new performative, transglobal, collaborative, and uncategorizable open formats of live broadcasted art and discourse. Artists will develop weekly and monthly programming concepts that combine live and archival media. We will curate a wide-range of performance projects that invite social interaction, as well transmission concepts such as live algorithmic data visualization and generative audio-visual art, mobile reportage of political events, telematic music concerts, distributed happenings, studio and location-based performances, field transmissions, art events, and more. To fill a 24/7 broadcast schedule, we envision short video and audio works interspersed throughout the programming in the form of transitions, teasers, segues, transformations and mixologies.
The Third Space Network will include news broadcasts, interviews, and discussion to connect the new media arts with world affairs, politics and topical debate. Audiences will tune into the Third Space Network for a unique view of the artist’s perspective on a broad range of contemporary and often controversial social, cultural and political issues.
Collapsing the Boundaries
According to Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett in their essay We Won’t Fly for Art [vii]:
“New, decentralised, growth-resistant, alternative worlds start to be articulated and produced as participants share and exchange new knowledge and subjective experiences provoked by the work.”
The Third Space Network in envisioned as a global consortium of artist-broadcasters creating new work and discourse that challenges and collapses the obstacles of geographical distances, cultural differences, and social inequalities. The history of alternative media underscores the need to give greater access to artistic and public voices generally excluded from the mainstream media.
Artists who are too often sequestered in the privacy of their studios are now provided an accessible platform to share their work and ideas with global reach: critiquing and contemplating a fast changing networked culture that is quickly transforming our artistic practice, our teaching, our research, our social relations, our identities, and our understanding of the world at large. The Third Space Network ventures into something new and unimaginable and the only way we will ever grasp the significance of the sheer scale and magnitude of our world today is to compress it, illuminated windows into a brave new world.
The possibilities are endless: we ask, what can’t you do with your own television channel beamed out to the whole world!?
[i] Art of the Networked Practice Online Symposium, co-chaired by Randall Packer & Vibeke Sorensen, School of Art, Design & Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
[ii] 0P3NR3P0.net, online net art database, created by Nick Briz and Joseph Chiocchi
[iii] Nam June Paik, “Media Planning for the Postindustrial Society – The 21st Century is now only 26 years away,” Rockefeller Foundation Grant, 1977
[iv] Marc Garrett “DIWO: Artistic Co-creation as a Decentralized Method of Peer Empowerment in Today’s Multitude,” Sead White Papers Network, 2014
[v] The Post Reality Show, created by Randall Packer beginning in 2012, is an Internet performance work that emanates from the artist’s underground studio bunker in Washington, DC
[vi] The third space is defined as networked space, joining the physical (first space) and the remote (second space)
[vii] Marc Garrett & Ruth Catlow, “We Won’t Fly for Art,” Culture Machine, 2012