Trapped to Reveal - On webcam mediated communication and collaboration.
I am not a performer, I use performance to do research.
I am not a researcher, I use research in my performance pieces.
I am a performer who uses research as a medium.
I am a performer researching encounters.
03 2011 Annie Abrahams
Texts by Sherry Turkle, Brad Troemel, Boris Groys, Jacques Rancière and Michael Goddard on Guattari and Berardi, that I have read recently, and an interview I had with Maria Chatzichristodoulou helped me to better understand my webcam performance practice. Besides being a tool to experiment with machine mediated collaboration and communication, these performances also reveal ordinary, vulnerable and messy aspects of human communication.
In her book Alone Together Sherry Turkle  describes how we hide more and more behind technology, and how intimate communications become something to avoid rather than to look for. Smartphones help us to flee our fear of the other. We learn to control our relations via interfaces and are adapting our behaviour to this new situation.
Facebook for instance teaches us how to simulate intimacy, how to make relations easy, clean, and free of danger. Brad Troemel in Why You Should Make Yourself Someone Else Online argues along the same lines, “The process of image management on Facebook is already less an outpouring of expression than it is an exercise in omission of information about one’s self”. 
So these relations also become superficial and make us ask, "Who are we when we don’t perform? Why can’t we show our vulnerable, messy sides? Why can’t I be boring and cherish solitude anymore?"
How can we aim for a better, happier world if we don't allow ourselves to exist, if we are not ready to confront our sloppy sides and take them as a departure point for our thoughts and actions. How can we pretend to change a world if we are not even capable of looking honestly at ourselves?
Maybe we should answer Guattari's question, “Why have the immense processual potentials brought forth by the revolutions in information processing, telematics, robotics, office automation, biotechnology and so on, so far only led to a monstrous reinforcement of earlier systems of alienation, an oppressive mass-media culture and an infantilising politics of consensus?" 
Maybe we should pay less attention to change and agree with Boris Groys that "…change is our status quo. Permanent change is our only reality. And in the prison of permanent change, to change the status quo would be to change the change—to escape the change." 
Maybe this would be possible if we could be more interested in what he calls (after Agamben and Benjamin) weak visibility and weak public gestures. Maybe our humanity can be saved through an attention for simple daily, repetitive, always returning actions, for unchanging affects and desires.
Maria Chatzichristodoulou also touched upon this in the article she wrote about my show at HTTP Gallery (now Furtherfield Gallery) in 2010 "Abrahams's Still Life is commonplace, messy and malleable. It is about the 'banal' reality of everyday life, time passing by, people crossing paths in fractured, desperate or indifferent attempts to communicate. This everyday quality opens up Abrahams's Shared Still Life to movement, dust, miscommunication, and shared absence." 
In a society where authenticity and privacy become endangered it is important to find ways to access our vulnerabilities and doubts, to make them public, to cherish our messy side. We need to make space for the beast in the beauty, to go back to reality, to claim the human. "We need to trap reality in order to make it available for thought." (Paraphrasing Jaques Rancière's "Le réel doit être fictionné pour être pensée". )
 Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (New York: Basic Books, 2011)
 Brad Troemel, Peer Pressure (Link Editions, 2012) p 98.
 Michael Goddard, ‘Felix and Alice in Wonderland: The Encounter between Guattari and Berardi and the Post-Media Era’ generation-online.org/p/fpbifo1.htm [accessed September 16, 2012]
 Boris Groys, ‘The weak Universalism’, e-flux journal 2011, e-flux.com/journal/the-weak-universalism/ [accessed September 19, 2012]
 Maria Chatzichristodoulou, ‘If not you not me, Annie Abrahams and life in networks’, Digimag 54 Mai 2010, digicult.it/digimag/article.asp?id=1793 [accessed September 16, 2012]
 Jacques Rancière, "Le Partage du Sensible", page 61, Esthétique et politique, Paris, La Fabrique, 2000, ISBN 2 913372 05 8. scribd.com/doc/60926879/Le-Partage-Du-Sensible-Jacques-Ranciere [accessed September 19, 2012]