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The Art of Being Virtually Awkward

Project Virtual Awkwardness: Seriously Awkward

When the director of Open Source Studio, Randall Packer, surrendered the third space to Diana Mafia, she went into a flush of virtual awkwardness. One by one were the minions of OSS called into this interrogative session. As the mistress of a short duration performance of awkward culture, three compliant accomplice responded in favor; uncertain, bemused and somewhat awkward. The performative aspect of copycat actions has granted allowance for letting go, that one participant, Min, routed a towel around her head when the host, Diana Mafia bundled a turban. One victim, Wei Long, was hesitant. An authentically indian indian man, Prakash, was befitting of a towel turban. Anyway, all of them are embroiled into a series of NSFW (not safe for work) conversation, where content is, however, non-explicitly challenging but with an undertone that incurred awkwardness. What is peculiar and the most attractive situation was that behind the screen, the options are limited to binary opposites. Audiences are to participate in almost ritualistic desires of the chief. Due to the nature of virtuality, there is a chance for second-guessing, which traps respondents in themselves, thus unsure about the socio-virtual normality in reaction.

The pinnacle of this situation is most viably addressed with the expression “virtual awkwardness”, where the reality of society is transposed through the real space to the third space. “The real” has permeated from physicality to virtuality. The psyche of acting and reacting based on social contract of agreement and judgement in acceptability has to be rewrote, through this instigation, where formalities become informal, and the informal is subjected to be re-interpreted and perhaps, accepted.

In line with the Open Source Studio inception in classroom conduct, Randall Packer has verbally approve of a conversation log that runs throughout the class which would have otherwise never been approve of in conventional real classroom settings. A student is distracted is he is using other communication devices and deemed as not paying attention, in fact, unmannerly in due respect to the real space host. In a AdobeConnect class time, lines of messages are exchanged and would not be classified as a bane and competitive towards attention for the host. In this very manner, the socially acceptable behavior has transformed. Or rather, it is virtually acceptable.

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One other observation of distraction, then, would be the representation of an avatar through video. There is a synchronization of participants, interactive or not, with their static camera angle. It can be a well-defined distraction, not within the space in frame but the instability of the vision of one’s studio space. For instance, connecting through the third space on transit while walking. A situation like this with changing background (studio space) can be virtually unacceptable, as much as one might be paying attention. It is probably similar in vibrations to how a teacher conducting a class in real-time can be distracted by happenings like noisy students or just plain disruptions.

Above all, the organisation of the third space is ever-evolving, so are the rules to virtual contract of agreement. In the contemporary and modern Internet times, we consider virtual law and regulations to facilitate higher civilizations while tracking and managing conditions. We currently in this global climate of identifying and adjusting to the virtual, writing rules consciously or subconsciously to what is virtually acceptable. We live, breathe, acknowledge and embrace virtual awkwardness.


Jennicam and Project Virtual Awkwardness

My name is Jennifer Ringley, and I am not an actor or dancer or entertainer. I am a computer geek… I don’t sing or dance or do tricks (okay, sometimes I do) but not very well and solely for my own amusement, not yours).



From April 1996 to December 2003, the ‘ordinary’ life of a young Western woman was broadcasted on the Internet. It is stated the reason for closure is PayPal cutting her off. An overview could be found residing on Ashley Lai and Tan Chin Fang’s residencies in the Open Source Studio.


The examination of her immense popularity like any other success phenomena brings upon theories to substantiate. In this investigation, we challenge the notion of setting her private space public with our proposition of Virtual Awkwardness by Diana Toh, established from the grounds of experimental third space labyrinth Open Source Studio helmed by Randall Packer.



The premature adrenaline that pumps through your veins pulsating every single bout of arousal in the entrance towards dark and warm dungeon of Jennifer Ringley. Much to our dismay, her stay was long in human’s linear encounter of hours, minutes and seconds, but insignificant in the longevity of the Internet. The nature of online cameras which take images of themselves is ephemeral, fleeting, and transient — ultimately lost in time is it’s flavor while change is the only constant; embed in this world off mashups and remixes, and idolatry of oneself in virtual presence is very much a socially acceptable insanity.


A voyeur would approve of Jennicam’s camera angle and static establishing show of her room and her bed. A relationship exist only if she is willing to exhibit her assets, her affair, and her possibly humility that is so honest.


‘The media, by and large, adores making a big deal out of the nudity and sexual content on the site. I don’t strip. I don’t even sleep naked much. And since I started dating Geofry ten months ago, I haven’t had sex on camera a single time because Geofry is camera-shy.”

Ringley’s interview on Cybergrrl: Voices of Women, 2001.


Transgressing beyond, academics have avidly discussed upon webcam as a technology that transpose the traditional canvas “window”, now a digital one, into another space-time situation, conjuring the real and the virtual. Jennicam’s 24-hour performance exploits on the lack of formal theatre training, kitsch and banality, bringing forth a “new theatre” dramaturgy from contention of theatre academics to embracement of telematic reality presentation. The pinnacle of mediation after mediation takes on viewership to be critical on seeing and the act of looking.


While largely is there contention in her intention of her gesture, subjected to debate of exhibitionism, the banality of the everyday gives security to mundanity. While fishes (www.fishcam.com) and eagles (http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles) are telematically present in 2014, there is once a human biologically identified to be female (www.jennicam.org).


Do you think Jenni was virtually awkward? Was she attempting to overcoming virtual awkwardness? Was she trying to induce it, either for herself or the viewer?

— Randall Packer


“I keep Jennicam alive not because I want to be watched, but because I simply don’t mind being watched”, says Jennifer Ringley. This marks the borderline falling between self-objectification and empowerment.


The transcendental presence of Jennicam has been felt across academia to pornography host. Under Ringley’s management, Jennicam was directed to be originally unedited and uncensored. In the case of camera shy guests, she bears respect for the wishes to be left unidenitified. In essence, Ringley attempts to preserve a “reality” that would captured statically from the placement of the the webcam, archiving the less dramatic and not to give birth on representation. In the light of media, Jennifer Ringley’s portrayal is difficult to discover virtual awkwardness, an assertion of the lack of activities is also a meditation to his gesture.


In Project Virtual Awkwardness, the web session host breaks the fourth wall in direct confrontation with the audience. This is a peculiar situation where awkwardness arise much unlikely to be found in Jennicam. To follow on, this expression the host will investigate such instigation in the notion of troll, NSFW, and across Adobe Connect.