Inspiration for Teleactor: The electric tele-actor

Cyborg Tele-actors:

Some years ago, I described wireless remote control of my body (through electrical stimulation) to Paulos (I was wearing it at the time, so he brought me to Survival Research Labs, where we talked further with the folks at SRL about my telematic body). Then later (Feb. 2000) I described my telebody performances to Goldberg, while I was setting up an exhibit at SFAI. (June that same year, "Version 1: June 28, 2000, Rising Tide Summit, NY")

I told him about some of my telematic body performances, such as Corporate Body, in which remote participants (my "Board of Directors") could vote on actions taken by my body while they viewed a live video feed transmitted from my body.

A 1996 presentation at ACM Multimedia demonstrated my telematic body performances from the 1970s and 1980s, and described my remotely controllable wearable camera system: `My Manager', borrows from the Stellarc tradition, allowing participants to remotely contribute (via the World Wide Web) to the creation of the documentary. Just as representatives in an organization absolve themselves of responsibility for their surveillance systems by blaming surveillance on managers or others higher up their official hierarchy, the artist absolves himself of responsibity for taking pictures of these representatives without their permission because it is the thousands of viewers on the World Wide Web who are `managing' (controlling) the artist and taking the pictures. The subjects of the pictures, for example, department store managers, who had previosly stated that ``only criminals are afraid of video cameras'', now implicate themselves of their own accusations by showing fear in the face of a camera. In response to their tremendous fear and paranoia, they are handed a form which they may use to have their pictures deleted from the artist's manager's (the Web audience's) database. The form asks them for name, social security number, and the reason for which they'd like to have their images deleted, and requests that they sign a section certifying that the reason is not one of concealing criminal activity, e.g. hiding the fact that their fire exits illegally chained shut. Through `reflectionism' the department store floor manager sees in the ``mirror'' the artist as a puppet on a (wireless) ``string''. `My Manager' forces attendants/maintainers of the `Surveillance Superhighway' to snap out of being puppets for a brief instant, and confront the reality of what their blind obedience can lead to.

This work is based on my 1975 performance "My Manager" (remote control of my body), which also formed part of a retrospective exhibit I had at Gallery TPW, July 2001 (updated version using electronic flashlamp trigger coils plugged into the parallel port of my wearable computer, with some new CGI scripts for participants to remotely control my body), as well as having been part of my WWW page since the early days of the WWW: `My Manager', borrows from the Stellarc/Elsenaar tradition in performance art: not just that the author's `third eye' might be analogous to Stellarc's third hand, but, more importantly, that the body is controlled remotely. `My Manager' allows participants to, via Radio TeleTYpe (RTTY), become managers and remotely contribute to the creation of a documentary video in an environment under totalitarian surveillance (where photography, video, etc., other than by the totalitarian regime is prohibited). The artist is metaphorically a puppet on a ``string'' (to be precise, a puppet on a wireless data connection) who, for example, dutifully marches into the establishment in question, goes over to the stationery department, selects a pencil for purchase, and marches past the magazine rack without stopping to browse the magazines.

This work on 20 years of telematic body art and Cyborgian Primitives was mentioned in my article published in Leonardo, 1998.

I have also developed various other versions of my two-way telematic wearable wireless webcam.

More recently, others appear to have built upon this body of work.