Social media art brings virtual audiences into cyber galleries

Social media art brings virtual audiences into cyber galleries

Twitter, Facebook and Skype are enabling global audiences to interact with live performance
social media art
An Xiao -- in "The Artist is Kinda Present" at Escape, New York City -- Tweets a participant.

Twitter, Facebook and Skype have changed our world thanks to lots of "likes" and quite a few "follows".

So why should performance art be any different?

A cross-platform project called Portal is using social media to connect international artists and audiences -- both real world and online -- in Sydney, New York and Beijing during September.

Using Skype and Twitter, as well as the Portal website, local audiences can participate in live satellite events taking place in Sydney galleries, with complementary events planned abroad. The performances are being streamed live and are open for anyone to join online.

“Unlike traditional performance art, where artist and audience are present in the space together, this approach to performance allows audiences to connect with the work remotely,” said curator Janis Ferberg.

“Artists exploring social media performance, though still based in certain cities and performing to live audiences, also have a large following online," said Ferberg. "Globally dispersed audiences can interact with the work in real time without actually being physically there."

The first scheduled performance will be by Man Bartlett, a Brooklyn-based artist, presenting  #FEEDFEED.

Envisaged as a networked potluck party extravaganza, Bartlett will ingest a range of things -- including actual food -- as gallery visitors in New York and Sydney interact with him and each other.

Art for art's sake, or social media popularity?

Performance artists around the world are now using social media platforms both as a medium and a subject matter for their work. It is acting as an integral part of how the works are shared with audiences and the meanings derived from the exchange.

But recently a debate has exploded on the art blogosphere, including on www.thelmagzine.com, about whether this movement is simply a vapid statement and an excuse to gain a few new Twitter followers.

Beijing-based artist An Xiao responded to these criticisms on www.hyperallergic.com. The artist pleaded with those who question the movement's validity to give it a chance.

"I invite anyone interested in social media art to really engage with the work," she said. "Don’t worry about where you live: you’ll be able to experience the show both online and in person."

"Spend time with each artist’s work, get to know it beyond a cursory look. It needs to be experienced beyond simply reading the concept and looking at images." 

"Using social media is like one long durational performance."

social media artIn "24 hr #classaction," Man Bartlett blew up skinny balloons for 24 hours, then popped them all.Man Bartlett’s #FEEDFEED will be held on September 17 from 11 a.m. and can be accessed via www.portalforvideo.com and www.peleton.net.au.

An Xiao’s work Caochangdi 404 will be held on September 24 from 4 p.m.–5 p.m. in Sydney and can be accessed via the Portal Website or at the 4A Centre for Contemporary Art. It will be held in Beijing at the same time (2 p.m.–3 p.m. Beijing time)

Man Bartlett's proposal for performance #FeedFeed is a public, user-changable document at www.docs.google.com.

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