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<nettime> social code
heiko hansen on Mon, 22 Sep 2003 17:56:05 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> social code

Social Code - Paris Performance Art

On the roofs of the Goute d'Or, in the north of Paris, clouds pass by in
forward motion and in the distance we see the Sacre Coeur. This is a new
video work of Cecile Babiole [http://babiole.net/], shot from her
apartment. When I met her there, she was just playing with a set of
ultrasonic sensors for her next performance, in which she is going to
"play images" together with Atau Tanaka, musician and researcher at Sony’s
Paris research lab. Babiole's work is funny and inventive at the same
time, "an ironical glance into technology". Preferably, she is performing
in public, such as in her most ambitious work ‘Reality Dub’, in which she
transforms a public bus into a moving performance space, or as she calls
it a modern "mobile version of Plato’s cave". The bus is equipped with
four cameras and six microphones on the front, back, in the engine and on
each side. Inside the bus, the passenger space functions as usual except
that the windows are completely blacked out and replaced by four monitors,
on which Cecile is mixing and manipulating the live audio and visuals.

It struck me, that the body and its relation to the public and the public
space in which performance happens, is a core concern. The body and its
real-time relation to the sensory environment, changes the environment,
but also in effect the feedback alters the motion of the body - so
everything is in flux. The work is an experiment in which "everything is
happening now" and which is "process rather than result". When ‘Reality
Dub’ was shown at FCMM media festival in Montreal, at some point the bus
driver started to do his own scratching by driving around in circles. In
placing things in the public, the unexpected happens.

In a sense this genre of performance art seems to recall artists like
Gillian Wearing and her work ‘Dancing in Peckham’, a video of herself
dancing in the middle of an ordinary shopping centre in Peckham, South
London. In parallel with other Paris based performance artists such as
Antoine Schmitt [http://www.gratin.org/as/] and Wolf Ka
[http://www.lab-au.com/enjeux/], Babiole uses a collage of audience
intervention, public space, computer programming and performance in order
to "modify social behavior" as Babiole puts it. “Social code” seems to me,
a wonderful description of something much richer than many of the other
technical terms we hear so often these days, something beyond code, which
is, after all, just code?


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