Cyberformances krijgen het voordeel van de twijfel

An article about the 101010 UpStage Festival by Ine Poppe has been published in NRC-Handelsblad – a Dutch national newspaper.

Click here to download a pdf of the article (in Dutch) or read on for an English translation, kindly provided by Annie Abrahams.

Cyberformances get the benefit of the doubt

Actively experience art at home? Usually I prefer to go outdoors, than to sit behind that silly computer. Yet I vividly remember having participated a whole night with hundreds of students in a joint experiment of German, Swiss and Austrian art schools more than ten years ago. It was rather complicated: you had to open several chats, web pages and channels to be able to listen to music, to watch video and to chat. Some schools were equipped with a live webcam studio, so we could assist in sketches, interviews and performances. Every hour the turn changed to a group in another city, but nobody followed this rule. The public could upload their own images and music and discuss what happened with other online participants. Maybe it was the ungodly hour, maybe so many people in different locations bombarding one another with images and sound and I too clumsy to work out who did what where – whatever it was, an enormous excitement came over me: what an exciting online gang, a simultaneous party with hundreds of people.

Now since 2007, there exists an annual cyberformance festival without any complicated software required.

The 101010 UpStage Festival this year offers 19 online performances. Artists from 11 countries, from nine different time zones show different so-called cyberformances that can be seen through the UpStage web site on October 10, 2010. A schedule for the different time zones will be published late September on the website. The festival will not only take place online, some shows can be seen live on location and combine the online and the offline. In New York, Vietnam, New Zealand, Slovenia, Canada and even in Eindhoven there is a “Real Life Access Node“, a place where the public who doesn’t want to sit at home behind a computer can go.

Festival Curators Vicki Smith, Dan Untitled and Helen Varley Jamieson selected among others dance based performances, comedies, theoretical debates and experiments around sexuality. One limit: the show must not exceed 20 minutes duration. There is Murder 2.0, interactive theater from Canada, where the young private detective Halle investigates a dirty business deal in which she is ultimately accused of murder. Halle must find the killer and clear her name and whether this succeeds depends on you, the virtual participant.

If you read the descriptions of the 19 performances the whole seems to be pretty experimental, so you fear that some things might turn out rather awkwardly. The films in the archive (the festival is in its fourth year) are reminiscent of primitive computer games, of the design of Second Life in its early days and of simple moving collages alongside which runs a chat. Live events are hard to archive, so for now the UpStage Festival gets the benefit of the doubt. Participants of the cyberformances should probably not judge purely by the artistic quality, but by the added experimental value. I want to ask you to visit one of the shows and to share your experience with me.

Ine Poppe