G.H. HOVAGIMYAN on 2 Feb 2001 20:09:07 -0000

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<nettime> Warhol Hijack

The Warhol Hijack weekend.

Yael Kanerek convinces Josh Harris & Tanya Corrin to turn over their  luxury
loft to the artists group, Verbal.  The group talks about the site, both the
physical location and the virtual location online.  The project
weliveinpublic is  webcams on steroids.  The loft has been wired with 32
cameras with infrared sensors and the phones are tapped.  Indeed there is
great skepticism among the group about the fact that this will be
incorporated into a larger documentary *art piece* by Josh.  The premise is
the Warhol idea of stardom in some sense and telematic voyeurism. Kevin
McCoy comes up with the theme Warhol Hijack as a way to focus the group.

>From my point of view:

After a preliminary meeting with the chief tech people in particular John
Morton, I was aware that the guest bathroom was the highest on the hierarchy
of shots to be sifted and put out on the main video stream.  I was also
aware that the phone tapping would freeze the audio so that all you could
hear was the phone conversations.  My intention became clear.  Disrupt the
normal voyeuristic structure of weliveinpublic and jarr the accessors
awareness of the site.  The other artists in the group did this as well in
different ways throughout the weekend with IMHO great success.  The space
makes one aware that people are watching.   There is also a social dynamic
within the artists who are gathered for the event.  Being ON all the time is
a keyword.

Ambient Phone Piece:
Using a standard Zmodem autodial script I put in a sequence of phone numbers
on my laptop and jack into the phone system. The phone numbers are  for
various voicemail systems. The artists in the Hijack, New York Museums, Bus
info, the weather, Horse Racing results,  etc..   when the computer connects
to a phone number it sends a modem tone trying to connect to another modem.
Obviously it can't connect so it hangs up and dials the next number on the
list. The accessors to the site are denied their eavesdropping and are
redirected to voicemail.  In the chat rooms some think we are dialing the
museums.  Others complain about the shrill feedback sounds. The piece is a
success because it disrupts the expectations of the accessors.  One person
understands what is happening and on the live chat suggests that I create a
phone feedback work.   I do this piece at various off times in the Hijack. 
The video documentation shows various cameras with text superimposed over
the screen announcing phone calls ch2.  It's a really nice ambient mix of
random camera shots and intentional audio art.

Toilet Confessional:
The guest bathroom has 3 cameras. One behind the mirror, on looking down
into the toilet and one actually in the toilet bowl.  I decide to do both a
live performance and a quicktime loop of the piece.  What intrigues me is
the idea of using the mirror and the toilet bowl as a stage or arena for
specific repetitive actions.  John Morton tells me that the more movement in
front of the motion detectors the more likely the shot will be bumped up the
hierarchy to become the main video stream out.  My goal is to disrupt the
cameras causing only my performance to go out on the main stream.  I also
like the idea of using the mirror. It refers to any number of late 60's
early 70's Conceptual Art and performance works by such  people as Dan
Graham, Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Carolee Schneeman, Bob
Morris, Robert Smithson etc..
For the first day, I wear all black assuming that in a white bathroom that
is the optimal figure/ ground contrast.  For the second day I wear all white
which is the inverse causing me to blend into the background.  M.River
remarked that the white on white was quite effective when viewed from the
video screen.  For the automated section of the piece I set up a quicktime
loop on my laptop computer and fold it into an acute angle. I situated it
over the toilet bowl facing into the bowl so that the black and white vid
clip is seen by the toilet bowl camera. This occurs because Yael helps me
get it just right.  Thanks Yael you're the best.  What happens is that
accessors to the site only get the image of my face doing the performance
floating in the toilet bowl. The piece is designed to be confrontational
telling the accessors to buzz off and go watch TV if they want to be
entertained.  On the chat people are split between being frustrated and
annoyed or getting into the obvious disruptive play.  I accomplish my goal.

Time sequences:
I schedule my performances for 4pm New York time.  This is with a view to
the European audiences who are 6 hours ahead.  Since I am quite well known
in France it is no surprise that for most of the morning and early afternoon
the chatters are all French. I recognize several people in the chat rooms
and say hello.

Food Performance:
Crepes on Saturday morning.   I make Crepes for Saturday breakfast. This is
a wonderful experience. Yael is doing her exercise piece as chatters direct
the type of exercises. I can see she is having a good time and making good
piece.  The two works interweave in a gentle way.  M.River shoots video of
the crepe making process.  I remark that in the 70's Jean Dupuy, a Fluxus
artist here in New York was known for doing Soup & Tart Performances.  
Indeed, there is of course a history of food events as art. Daniel Spoerri
and Gordon Matta Clark come to mind.  I'm quite pleased with being able to
extend this notion into an ambient web presentation.  It's also good fun to
feed everyone and create a certain level of intimate pleasure within the
forced social context.

Social Space - Disruptions:
Ricardo & Diane are constantly playing to the cameras pointing guns at the
cameras moving around the furniture etc.. T.Whid & M.River write  Warhol
Hijack on the floor in blue tape so that the webcams read the text. Yael
disrupts the weliveinpublic splash screen changing it to We Live in Shock
!!!!   I put a black out line over the eyes of image of Gilligan (Bob
Denver) that Josh has placed by the elevator.  The people in the chat rooms
are flipping out commenting on how Josh will freak when he sees all the tape
on the floor.  The Hijack is working really well. Cary has brought his
time/machine techno music rig and is blasting the loft with music.

Social Gatherings & Dysfunction:
We have a discussion in the 10 foot square tiled bathtub.  This is quite
good since we are huddled together in one place. The subject is loosely art
in 21c.  Part of the discussion is about the ways in which humans come
together in a flesh link as a consequence of technology. Kevin is
documenting the talk and at various times I take the camera from him when he
speaks so that he too can be on the tape.
Cary start his soy love piece. Everyone is getting high. Since I have been
sober for 14 years, I slip away.  The noise of the music and the excitement
of creating over an extended period has my nerves jangled.  I go home and
snap on c-span. I watch a female supreme justice of the Colorado supreme
courts talk about the courts in the aftermath of the election. It's quite
boring and calms me down.

The Fight:
After viewing the documentary video of the time just before the fight I
realize the context on the other side of the door. Cary & Ricardo are moving
around the space dancing to the music smoking spliff's etc.. I've
essentially isolated myself in the bathroom cutting myself off from the
social interactions in the loft and at the same time playing to the voyeurs
on the web. The action of locking oneself in the bathroom to get away is of
course one of the simplest anti-social mechanisms one can use in a home. 
>From their perspective I'm insulating myself. Perhaps they've forgotten the
cameras or perhaps my gesture elicits a response from them.  Think Vito
On the first day that I do my performance Ricardo bangs on the bathroom door
while I'm inside.  This disrupts my concentration.  I Open the door and yell
at him don't fuck with me Ricardo.  Later I ask him whether this is part of
his overall ambient performance strategy.  I'm hoping that he gets the idea
that I'm not happy about this.  The next day Ricardo bangs on the door
several times and is joined by Cary and others.  I can't continue the
performance so I prop the laptop on the toilet and leave the bathroom.  Yes
I lose my temper and start yelling and pushing around Ricardo and Cary. 
Ricardo says you should have just told me straight out you didn't want me to
bang on the door.  After a while we all calm down and apologize to one
another.  I feel terrible for losing my temper.  I read later on the ourdna 
site that the chatters caught the fight.  Interestingly enough before we
entered the loft there was some talk of staging a confrontation.
After the fight is over I make the comment out loud as I'm walking through
the hall to the back, You thought that was real?  I really had you guys
going there, didn't I?  I'm playing to the cameras.

Remote Access:
I go home Saturday night and log on to catch Tina's cybersex performance by
remote.  I see several of my Hijack mates on camera.  Jen Crowe is sitting
on Ben's lap in the control room. Tina is discussing the performance on the
bed with someone.  The music is blasting.  I see Tamas's son rocking back &
forth in front of  the control room camera. I just get home and I wish I was
there with my buds.

The next day when Josh returns he asks me how it went.  It was a total
success. Everyone did good work.  We all learned a lot.   We're just now
assimilating  what happened.

(note: this is a short sketch for a much longer essay)

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