Arts Elective Workshop – The Telematic Embrace in the Third Space

Arts Elective Workshop ::: April 14, 2018 ::: Randall Packer, Instructor

::: Technical Setup of Adobe Connect :::

Adobe Connect is a Webconferencing platform, like Skype, but with more advanced features for chat and presentations. We use Adobe Connect to activate online interactions in the virtual environment.

First, login to the University network. We will distribute accounts that you can use for access.

Next, run the Adobe Connect Connection Test and download and install the Adobe Connect Add-in on your laptops. For those who don’t have a laptop, install the Adobe Connect App for iOS or Android on your iPhone/Android or iPad/Tablet. If you don’t have a laptop or mobile device, you’ll need to share a computer with the person next to you. It will take several minutes for the download, so we will continue with the Workshop during this process.

::: Introductions :::

Introductions all around, with a brief discussion of our use of social media and mobile devices. Questions:

  • What is your preferred social media platform and why?
  • Do you carry your mobile device with you everywhere you go?
  • How much time do you spend online or digitally communicating each day?

::: Definitions :::

We will define the following concepts of the Workshop to gain a deeper understanding of our socially mediated connections and relationships.

  1. Telematic – The computer and communications technology that mediates and connects us around the globe.
  2. Embrace – The act of holding someone closely.
  3. Third Space – The convergence of the local and remote into a third, shared networked space.

Let’s discuss the why do we put these three terms together.

  • Is it possible we can hold someone close in networked space despite geographical separation?
  • Is there a sense of touch in the third space? Can we feel close to people in the third space?
  • Is it possible to be in 100% in the first space and the third space simultaneously?
  • And can the third space we used for creative and experimental interaction?

This workshop will attempt to answer these questions.

::: A Hole in Space :::

Since the 1970s, with the advent of satellite technologies (even before the Internet) artists have been exploring the third space as an environment for artistic creation and live events. One of the most important artistic works is called Hole-in-Space by the American artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz. In 1980, before anyone had witnessed video conferencing or Webconferencing, they connected New York and California via satellite to create a telematic embrace in the third space. The unannounced work invited passerbys to stand in front of a large screen and communicate with people 3,000 miles away. It blew everyone’s mind!

Let’s ask some questions about Hole-in-Space:

  • Why do people get so excited when they see someone thousands of miles away?
  • How have the artists designed Hole-in-Space to make it so engaging?
  • How does the telematic embrace in the third space change our behavior?

::: Hands-on Workshop :::

We will now carry out a series of telematic exercises I use regularly in my Internet Art and Experimental Interaction classes at NTU. These exercises are intended to explore how we can activate the third space for creative play, interaction, virtual touch, collective art, etc, all of which explore how we communicate, engage, and embrace one another across networks and geographical distances. Despite the fact that we are all situated in the first space in this classroom, nevertheless, this exercise is intended to resituate ourselves in a third space environment for purposes of simulating being separate from one another.

Here is the preliminary login and setup procedure for Adobe Connect

  • Login to Adobe Connect as a Guest with your laptop, and type your name when prompted
  • If you are using a mobile device, use this URL to login:
  • Once logged in, turn on off your speaker, and turn on your camera and we will test everyone’s connections. Do not turn on your microphone.
  • In case we are using too much bandwidth in the room, we will break up into groups.
  • Feel free to take screenshots as a record of the workshop.

Here are the exercises we will explore today:

  • Virtual “touch” to adjacent students
  • Replacing ourselves with everyday objects (pen, phone, notebook, etc.) in varying proximity to the camera
  • Facial closeness to the Webcam: eye, mouth, nose, etc
  • Fingers pointing in various directions
  • Hands over Webcam to darken and alter the image
  • Plastic or transparent material over Webcam to create textures
  • Colored objects to create a collective collage
  • Elongated gestures across rows and down columns with arms and hands
  • Expression collage (making various expressive faces: sad, happy, laughing, angry)
  • Creation of the Collective Human X as in the figure above
  • Exercise suggestions from the class
  • Close your eyes and think about the other students in the class to feel their virtual presence

We will then discuss the results of the exercises, here are some questions to consider:

  • Can you feel the presence of others when your eyes are closed?
  • Why do we feel “proximity” and a sense of “touching” in the virtual third space environment
  • Why does the third space lend itself to gestural and creative play?
  • Do you now feel that the third space can be a creative medium for social and collective art?
  • Do you think any differently about your everyday interactions in the third space?

We will now conclude the workshop with open discussion and questions.

::: Thank You! :::