sabato 31 marzo 2012

ALONE IN THE DARK - solo session

A performance investigating the anonymous, random, one-on-one communication in Chat-roulette.

On Chat-roulette, communication between users occurs one on one and is absolutely casual. You never choose whom you will video-chat with; it is the system that casually fishes out your chat partner from the heap, when you connect in perfect anonymity.  No one asks your first and last name; you do not have to register; and you do not need any nickname. You enter the chat and immediately there appears on your screen the face of a perfect stranger.  At that point you can decide if you want to chat with that person.  At any time, you can end the communication by clicking on the “next” button and pass to the next anonymous user. The public of Chat-roulette is an animal of our times, frenetic and voracious, living in the furious zapping for the pursuit of meaning, love, contact, empathy and sex.


The performance space is dominated by a big black canvas on a painter easel, a tripod with a webcam and myself, dressed in my black painter suit. I connect to Chat-roulette and I project the display of my computer - and so the face of the Chat-roulette random user that suddenly happears - right onto the black canvas.
The webcam on the tripod, in front of me, frames the whole scene, so that the stranger connected to me in Chat-roulette can see himself re-projected on the canvas.
The first reaction is laughter and surprise: the stranger recognizes himself/herself and this amuses or disconcerts him/her. Some of them smile, move the hands and make funny faces. Some of them disconnects right away, irrationally afraid by this this sudden and resounding demonstration of their presence, as if they felt naked and violated their privacy, perhaps sensing the presence of an audience in the room (although the audience will not be visible). I take a white marker and start drawing their silhouettes, their portrait. At this point most of the users turn into childs full of wonder. They move to dodge the pen and play with me, they pose and stand still to help me trace their faces, from the corner of the world from which he transmits, in front of his webcam, to offer their best side. All users are abducted from the simple absurdity of this pausing and reflecting, if only for a moment, about themselves, while a perfect stranger draws their portrait, capturing the fleeting glimpse of a meeting.

The performance can last 1, 2 or 3 hour, as a durational piece and live installation. At the end we will have this big black canvas bearing a "layered" and collective portrait, as a result of the superimposition of all the faces and bodies of the people that I met on-line.

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