There are several ways that my project bridges my theatrical practice with concepts and ideas that we’ve covered this semester. My project centralizes around using the internet as a medium and stage for live performance. This closely connects to our studies of JenniCam, a prime example of improvised endurance theatre and a pioneer in the creation of reality television, as well as Life 2.0, a virtual world created and sustained by human users. Whether it is people displaying their true selves online or creating alter egos, the common quality that comes across in my research is that we are braver when behind a computer screen. Since my final project demands me to have first-hand experience of thrusting myself into the third space, I can attest that I am more brave to interact with others and engage in dialogue when I am behind a screen. Even though I am not assuming multiple identities when I am on Skype, I still see my piece as a choreographed piece set in the virtual space. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why we keep integrating more and more technology into our daily lives to the extent that technology is becoming an extension of man. We as human beings are always looking for ways to simplify our lives with the intricate designs of technology, therefore the line between the natural and the technological is continuously blurring and merging. We are relying on technology and welcoming it into every aspect of our lives. For example, my project demands Skype in order to keep the action going. Without Skype, I have no project. Without Skype, I also don’t have the means to keep a potential long distance relationship alive because we would not be able to communicate. For now, due to our circumstances, meeting in the third space is the only place that we can form a connection. Therefore, much like how many examples we have looked at in class supports the integration of technology into our daily lives, my project supports that notion because it requires the virtual space in order to exist. With each project update and advancement I make, I am redefining my project and attempting to locate it within the context of the other works we’ve looked at. For example, I would not consider A Tale of Two Cities to be a reality series because there is ambiguity and editing, while I would not say that I am embodying an alter ego either.
The biggest concept that I learned in my experience of working with new media is how endless the possibilities are in the third space. This is an idea that constantly overwhelms me. The very fact that we meet online in a classroom and create a collaborative learning space every week is still one that seems surreal. This also means that new based artists now have a larger “canvas” to create and present their media. Once I recognized how everything you can dream of can be accomplished in the virtual world, it starts to become slightly terrifying. For example, I think that its almost too easy that all I need to do is press a button and it records my entire screen. It leads to me to think about what would happen if Josh did not actually know or agree to me recording everything. With the amount of accessibility that one has with new media, it pushes me further to create a final project I am passionate about knowing that I have no excuses when there is so much potential in all my tools.
However, a critical examination of my project sheds light on several issues. I am extremely shy, especially when it comes to talking about my romantic relationships. It is really interesting to see myself feel so brave presenting what I consider a very personal part of my life to both strangers and people that I know, but behind a screen. Although I truly believe I am not presenting an alter ego of myself when I am on Skype with Josh, the action of me putting it up publicly on Youtube is definitely not within my characteristic. Why am I so comfortable and motivated to show everyone when it is in a virtual space? I am still trying to figure this out, but I think that its also linked to the reason why we are so interested watching other people’s lives on reality television. Another issue that I have spent a lot of time reflecting on is the technical difficulties that arise from recording a Skype conversation. I had known from the start of my project that I wanted to keep some traditional theatre etiquettes while still using the Internet as a stage for performance. There have been several times where my conversations didn’t record or I had the material I wanted, but there were aspects of it that I also didn’t want (such as the demo mark on some videos). I realize that all these difficulties ring true to traditional theatre as well, because you cannot go back once you make a mistake on the stage. You have one take and just have to keep going. Last, the biggest struggle I faced is whether to take the authentic or staged route for this project. My work seemed to have hit a standstill when I followed a script and it was very clear that nothing came out authentic online. That brings up this next thought – It is very obvious/unnatural to me when I watched a video where I was putting on a character and following a script on Skype. Is it fair to then say that we can successfully form authentic relationships on the Internet? Can we still distinguish what is real and what isn’t in a virtual, third space?
As a result of my research on the Internet as a medium for artistic production, my project has evolved into a piece that successfully stays true to my goals from the beginning. The major turning point of this project is when I realized that it wasn’t enough to turn the third space into a stage by presenting a narrative online. I needed to find a situation/story that relies and depends on the the internet to exist. For example, a long distance relationship in this day and age (especially at its beginning) needs technology in order to keep it alive. I take a lot of inspiration from JenniCam – this piece of endurance theatre has really fueled my interest to figure out why people rather watch others than live their own lives. I especially enjoy watching “reality television” shows such as the Bachelor and Big Brother, and I spend a good amount of time on Facebook looking at profiles of my friends who are in relationships. I know that many people believe the reason why people are so interested in the lives of others is because they want to escape their own or to make themselves feel better about their own lives. However, when I really think about it, I think the reason why I am personally invested in the lives of others on social media and the Internet is because it helps me understand my own relationship. Likewise, editing videos of my Skype conversations and witnessing my behaviour right in front of me has helped me gain a better understanding about this relationship, but also myself as a person. With all the projects that have shaped my project such as the Wongfu Production Webepisodes, JenniCam and Forty Days of Dating, I am able to better define my project and locate it within all the other art forms that are also exploring the same themes.
As I look back at my project updates, I can see now that I’ve always been on a track that has steered me to where I am currently at with my project. A Tale of Two Cities has always been a work in progress and it will continue to be. If I had more time to develop this project, my next step would be to put it on social mediums to generate views and conversation. I have learnt this semester that my project had to be something interesting and innovative or else it would become lost in the world wide web. However, even though the semester has come to an end, I want to keep this project going for personal reasons. The project in many ways has turned into a public journal.