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ADAM Project artists livestream shows during coronavirus pandemic

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Photo from TPAC
Digital tools including a smartphone, computer screen, and webcam enable artists to perform online.

By Yali Chen
 
The coronavirus pandemic has seen gigs, concerts, musicals, theatrical performances, and club nights cancelled around the world and forced people to stay home under lockdown. As a result, artists have had to get extra creative when it comes to finding an audience.
 
Many artists around the world are performing online, and ADAM is no exception. Now in its fourth year, the Asia Discovers Asia Meeting for Contemporary Performance (ADAM), organized by the Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC), has turned to livestreaming for the first time. The performance project’s three sections streamed 16 performances live from August 12 through August 16.
 
“With many shows around the globe cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19, we invited 45 artists from the Asia Pacific and Europe to stream their productions and collaborative ideas on the Internet,” said project curator River Lin (林人中).
 
The ADAM initiative aims to inspire people to reflect on the development of contemporary art.
 
“The COVID-19 crisis was also an opportunity for us to slow down and rethink what artists can do,” said Lin. “We turned the web into our performance venue and asked participating artists to work together in real time. This helped us and the audience to explore the future of performing arts and international exchange after the pandemic.”
 
Internet of Things

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Photo from TPAC
Two artists perform online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The theme of this year’s ADAM project was “An Internet of Things” (萬事互相效力). In recent months, with lockdowns in cities around the world, Lin has watched many online performances and come up with a new title for this year’s initiative—“Cyber Art Project”. It explores internet topology, digital visual culture, and the exhibition venue of the internet city.
 
Lin asked four artists from last year’s ADAM project to form a curatorial team—the Transient Collective, comprising Madeleine Flynn from Australia, Han Xue-mei from Singapore, Elia Nurvista from Indonesia, and Vuth Lyno from Cambodia. The team brainstormed how to present the project’s three content sections: “FW: Wall-Floor-Window Positions” (FW:牆壁地板視窗動作), “TBC: Workshopping the Future” (TBC:預演未來工作坊), and “My Browsing History” (我的瀏覽記錄). Several artists from previous ADAM projects also decided to participate in the cyber performances and dialogues.
 
“FW: Wall-Floor-Window Positions” is an adaptation of American artist Bruce Nauman’s iconic early work “Wall-Floor Positions” from 1968. In that work recorded by a single video camera, Nauman assumed varying, sometimes uncomfortable, body positions using both floor and wall.
 
The artist explained that his poses served to unite the floor with the wall. “Wall-Floor Positions” showed how the artist’s body stayed in continuous contact with the floor and the wall. His movements seemed to convey that he sought to use his body to unite the two. These movements express Nauman’s insight into the undeniable powers of normative structures and social patterns. The internet did not exist when Nauman made this “video-dance.” No-one watched Nauman’s performance on a computer screen.
 
Online Performances and Discussions

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Photo from TPAC
An artist writes down her ideas before giving an online performance.

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Photo from TPAC
She then holds up a poster referring to the impact of the pandemic on Taiwan.

This year, in the live-streamed work “FW: Wall-Floor-Window Positions,” three online performances were given by 16 artists from Taiwan and overseas: Norhaizad Adam, Joel Bray, Bunny Cadag, Michikazu Matsune, Scarlet Yu, Lin Yen-ching, Lin Yu-ju, Liu Yi-chun, Venuri Perera, Chiharu Shinoda, Takao Kawaguchi, Daniel Kok, Lee Tsung-hsuan, Tien Hsiao-tzu, Xiao Ke, and Zi Han.
 
Unlike Nauman’s work, the live stream performance had each artist do a 5-minute solo, followed by a post-performance discussion with the other artists. The audience could watch the shows and join in the discussions.
 
“The artists first conveyed their ideas to the audience through their online performances,” said Lin. “The objective for both performers and audiences was to see and be seen, and to reflect on how real-time performance viewed online takes the theater stage into cyberspace, and to consider the advent of live-stream culture.”
 
“TBC: A Workshop on the Future,” curated by the Transient Collective, was a series of hosted conversations. The four sessions saw discussion of digital communities, artistic practice, work, and ecology.
 
“TBC” means “to be confirmed”. The workshop brought together regular people, artists, activists, cultural practitioners, researchers, and online participants from here and abroad to discuss what kind of future awaits us, our planet, and future generations,” said Lin.
 
The first session explored the emergence of digital communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential of such communities after the crisis. How will big data and digital tools continue to shape our society? What possibilities await us as a “cloud collective”?
 
Madeleine Flynn from Australia and Han Xue-mei from Singapore hosted the first session with guests JK Anicoche from the Philippines, Steve Bull and Kelli McCluskey from Australia and the U.K., and Ip Wai Lung from Hong Kong.
 
Impact of the Pandemic on Art

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Photo from TPAC
This poster asks for a word to complete the sentence.
 
With the theme “Artistic Practice,” the second session focused on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the art world. How do artists keep distance between their art and society at large during a time of social distancing? Do artists need to rethink artistic creation disconnected from society? In the post-COVID-19 era, do artists need to form new ethics and aesthetics?
 
Elia Nurvista from Indonesia and Vuth Lyno from Cambodia hosted the second session with guests Martinka Bobrikova from Slovakia and Norway, Oscar De Carmen from Spain and Norway, Enzo Camacho from the Philippines and Germany, Nikki Lam from Hong Kong and Australia, and Phuong Ngo from Australia.
 
The third session centered on labor issues. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the uneven distribution of resources in healthcare, social security, and wealth in all walks of life around the world. This session explored the necessary and the unnecessary, replaceability and irreplaceability, and how work will be structured in the future.
 
Han Xue-mei from Singapore and Elia Nurvista from Indonesia hosted the third session with guests Melinda M. Babaran from the Philippines and Taiwan, Brigitta Isabella from Indonesia, and Sima Ting-Kuan Wu from Taiwan.
 
Lockdowns bode well for the environment
 
Before the pandemic, air pollution was a serious problem in many cities. The Earth is faced with rising temperatures, which in turn has led to the melting of glaciers and a rise in sea levels. Environmental degradation was happening fast owing to the depletion of resources such as air, water, and soil. But city lockdowns in response to the coronavirus have led to slight environmental changes.
 
Air pollution dropped significantly thanks to reduced human mobility during the pandemic. In areas like Venice, the water became so clear that fish could be seen. Sea turtles have even been spotted returning to areas they once avoided to lay eggs, all because of the absence of humans.
 
The topic of the fourth session was ecology. What kind of ecology do we want? How can we coexist with other forms of life in a sustainable way?
 
Madeleine Flynn from Australia and Vuth Lyno from Cambodia hosted the fourth session with guests Chen Shi-ting from Taiwan, Cassie Lynch from Australia, and Natasha Tontey from Indonesia talking about their experiences and sharing their perspectives. Chen is a researcher with the Green Citizens’ Action Alliance (GCAA). Founded in 2000, the GCAA advocates environmental justice through assemblies, community engagement, and citizen action.
 
How do artists use search engines to obtain audiovisual data in the networked city? In the lecture-performance series “My Browsing History,” artists, curators and researchers revealed their online search and browsing histories. While viewing, watching, and researching via Google, YouTube, Instagram, Tiktok, and Netflix, they curated a playlist to access graphic networks, private collections, and stories behind the scenes.
 
The participating artists were: Au Sow-Yee from Malaysia and Taiwan, Enoch Cheng from Hong Kong, Yves Chun-Ta Chiu from Taiwan, Mish Grigor from Australia, Tada Hengsapkul from Thailand, ila from Singapore, Russ Ligtas from the Philippines, Riar Rizaldi from Indonesia and Hong Kong, and Su Wen-chi from Taiwan. They gave nine lecture-performances sharing their creative and curatorial research on the web.