A.Void, a participatory online performance

Online art experiences have multiplied in recent years to offer us welcome escapes, especially during these periods of successive lockdown-imposed isolations. In front of our computers or smartphones, during some other remote entertainment, suddenly the virtual arms of a pixel-animated consciousness carry us across the screen and direct us into imaginary worlds. This is the impression that participatory performance has left on the Internet A. Invalid by Isadora Teles Castro and Silvia Circu[1]in which we could participate through Radio Galoche[2] in December 2021, the station from which the artists invite us live to join the online participatory performance.

Isadora Teles Castro and Silvia Cîrcu, A.Void, 2021 © https://phd-isadora.github.io/project/avoid

The experience, lasting 10 to 20 minutes, immerses us in the heart of an interactive abstraction, both by its graphic status and the experience it offers. Throughout, we are guided by Isadora Teles Castro and Silvia Circu: we let ourselves be transported to the discovery of ten interactive scenes that follow one after the other.

We transpose ourselves into the virtual world in the form of pixels and we barely get an image. We become pixels in a world of pixels. Our movements, captured by a web camera, affect the movements of virtual agents. These digital entities inhabit each of the scenes and thus try to come into contact with us through the only means of communication available to them: the graphic movement of pixels.

Although these subjects have a life of their own, the scenes are in turn animated by the artists, which affects the reactions of the subjects as well as the conditions of the performance. This allows artists to develop a management system that is both online and real-time: ears behind the scenes of the performance via the airwaves Radio Galoche, we hear Isadora and Silvia influencing scenes and entities. A real-time control room to give the natural thrust of a theatrical improvisation to this 100% digital online show. Through their choices, artists give body to this immaterial virtuality, thus offering us a mediated experience. They experiment in real time with the proposed transformations, which allows the work to evolve in an ever new way. Their real-time work experience becomes the vehicle for ours.

The first scene takes us to a collective world where our pixels meet other anonymous pixels, each differentiated by its own color. On the other hand, in the scenes that follow, the intimacy between us and the virtual subjects is strengthened. This is how we live a privileged and individual relationship with them. Our web cam captured pixels are interpreted by the subjects as “poison or food” in the words of the artists. Thus, when the pixels that represent us, guided by our movements, come into contact with virtual entities, we can either create a new action, form or entity or, on the contrary, make them disappear. The movements of our image being interpreted differently from each scene thanks to the “intelligent” environment, which causes the reactions of the creatures.

Isadora Teles Castro and Silvia Cîrcu, A.Void, 2021 © https://phd-isadora.github.io/project/avoid

Thus, a graphic and gestural dialogue from image to image begins between our body, sometimes reduced to simple colored pixels, and the virtual beings of these scenes. Our image saves us because Silvia and Isadora configure what the software captures from us and the effect we produce on the virtual entities. Artists, with their real-time mediation, become the indispensable mediators of this pixel-to-pixel encounter. We live an image of transformation whose appearance we do not control. This form of generative art (algorithmic generation) with a complex and out-of-control result asks the viewer to adapt to this unpredictability by adopting a form of interaction that involves letting go. Indeed, at no time can we know which of our pixels will be considered poison or food by virtual agents. It is therefore impossible to know which creatures will survive or not.

In a similar way to subjects’ behaviors, our actions adapt to their new environment, which gives them a “programmed” aspect. Indeed, as soon as we enter the program, we are assigned the rules of interaction. In this way, we take on a role within this pre-programmed world. We join the work with which we experience almost a cellular automaton (cellular automata: the mathematical system of simplified simulation of the self-reproducing conditions of living beings), since at no time can we submit new rules to the behavior of this world . , although it adapts to our presence and evolves in an unpredictable way. The behavior of the work simulates autonomy so well that it seems to escape both creators and spectators.

The interview at the origin of this article is available as a podcast on our science partner’s platform

[1] Work produced as part of their respective theses within the research team INREV (Digital Images and Virtual Reality) of the AIAC Laboratory (Image Arts and Contemporary Art), of the EDESTA PhD School (Aesthetics, Arts Sciences and Technologies)

[2] http://www.galoche.online/podcasts : The website link is only active for the duration of the show

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