Performance art / dance collaboration with Rebecca O’ Brien.
Open Out Festival, Tromso, Norway. 08/06/18.
Artist residency at The Island in Bristol. 10/16. Documentation available at www.theroomisopen.com.
EXHIBITIONS @ Rich Mix, London. 29/11/15.
NIME (New Interfaces for Musical Expression) International Conference, Goldsmiths/XOYO, London (and simultaneously broadcast in an internet sex chat room). 01/07/14.
Chat Room is a live performance soundtracked by manipulating audio streams sourced from internet sex chat rooms. The two performers set-up facing each other on the floor of the stage – the main visual focus of the piece is performance artist/dancer Rebecca O’ Brien who is live broadcasting onto a popular sex-cam site. Her live webcam ‘room’, complete with real-time comments from the room’s visitors, is projected on a screen behind them. To the users of the site she initially appears no different from the average webcam performer, coyly interacting with the visitors’ comments. As the audio builds in rhythmic intensity her movements form into an abstracted, frenetic dance that moves between between being playful, seductive and unsettling. At the finale of the piece the cam is turned on the audience, revealing to the site’s users the context of what they have just been a part of.
Webcam sites are cybersexual in nature – women, men and couples stripping, masturbating or performing sex acts to an audience of strangers (sometimes with a two-way connection) for money and / or exhibitionist thrills. The piece is interested in the mundanity, absurdity and strange intimacy of broadcasting, sometimes for hours on end, day after day from a private home – a very small personal window given a world stage. The piece explores how the users of these sites relate to the broadcasters and how they react when they realise the commonly accepted norms have been subverted and that their comments have been viewed by a live audience (although already visible to the world in a free public forum)– ranging from angry to bemused to fascination and elation. The performance leaves room for improvisation but is structurally composed – at times playful/humorous, frenetic/tense and empty (both vacuously and desperately so).
In October 2016 Becky and Jake were granted a residency in The Island, Bristol to continue their artistic research into online sex-space. As much as possible (despite multiple banning) they broadcasted their entire 48 hour stay in the repurposed police jail cell continuously into various popular chat rooms. They also, through means of a call out, curated various local artists (poets, DJ’s, performance artists and noise musicians) to come and perform onto the room. The session was called The Room is Open.