Reenacttv: 30 lines / 60 seconds

Reenacttv: 30 lines / 60 seconds was a reenactment of John Logie Baird’s collaboration with the BBC of July 14th 1930 to produce the UK’s first TV drama, specifically the broadcast of a version of Luigi Pirandello’s The Man with the Flower in his Mouth to less than 30 Baird televisors in the UK, Dublin and Porto.

The performance was at the Kunsthalle Project Space, Vienna from March 3-9 2013 and then at the National TV Archives, Hilversum, on April 19 2013.

There will be a performance at the National Media Museum in Bradford, followed by a paper at the Archaeologies of Film and Media at the University of Bradford in September 2014.

Phil Ellis: (pellis@plymouth.ac.uk)

Aims of project:


The reenactment was a live participatory artwork, allowing for the audience to interact with lines of the play, each for a segment of around 60 seconds duration. At the Kunsthalle, there were 21 participants who took part from the audience of the wider exhibition’s opening night.

stem_small


Background to project (context):


The work forms part of PhD research into early television experiments and interrogates the relationship between this early technology (and its production process) and our high definition participatory culture. The work and research take a media archaeological approach seeking traces through the process of reenactment.

The work was performed during the Opening Night of the HERA: ‘Technology, Exchange and Flow: Artistic Media Practices and Commercial Application’ at the Kunsthalle, Vienna and at the Dutch National TV Archives in Hilversum.

Each participant acted one minute of the play in English (in Vienna they could choose English or German) from the original 1930 script. The segments were edited together overnight and then displayed on the iPhone as a 22min video for the rest of the exhibition, with the traces of the ‘studio’ left intact in the space.

I returned to Vienna to give an Invited Presentation - a contextual performance and talk in the Technology, Advertising and the Avant Garde strand on 16/3/13, delivered in '30 lines' of course!

Methods used:


Each segment was filmed on a webcam in the performance space – the latter representing Baird’s small studio at 133 Long Acre, London.

stem_small

The webcam (and accompanying spotlight) were static at the back of the space with the participants (there are two speaking male characters and a silent female character) moving in and out of the camera’s field of vision.

The webcam image was fed through software called Video2NBTV/NBTV Virtualcam which acts as a 30-line emulator producing a simulation of the 1930 image.

stem_small

This image was further processed through the software programme Wirecast which allowed for the 30 line / 60 second pieces to be transmitted to the Plymouth University TV Arts server tvarts.plymouth.ac.uk/live.

This stream was then picked up and displayed on an Apple iPhone 4 in the performance space on its 5.08cm x 7.6cm screen (roughly the same dimensions as Baird’s original), so the audience could see this final realization.

stem_small

Overnight, the 21 participatory performances were edited into the complete reenactment of the play which one can see at the top of the page. The chequered fading board (originally used in Baird's early experiment to cut to keep the image stable when performers moved position) was used as the editing point between each sequence.

On the Opening Night (when the performances were recorded), the stream was also present on another interface reenacttv.net providing an opportunity for a wider audience to use the chat facility while watching the live interactions. There was also an opportunity for users to reenact the play themselves with others over webcam, using the script, image and sound effects provided. In another window, they could choose to hear interviews with Baird staff from the original recording.

In the following image and video, one can see one's own web cam image on the top left of the interface with the stream of the reenactment in the window below (rtv1) and then the Baird audio recordings being streamed in rtv2 (users can change 'channels' at will). In the next windows, users can see a list of fellow participant users and select any two to chat with or reenact the play. In the windows to the left, users can chat by text and also access the script of the play, audio file and images.

stem_small

In the final video one can see the whole process of the stream of the reenactment which is then received by the iphone. This stream is then also displayed in the reenacttv.net interface along with the user participation in the interface.


Associated publications:


Performances

March 2013. Reenacttv: 30 lines / 60 seconds Kunsthalle Vienna

I become involved with the Hera: ‘Technology, Exchange and Flow: Artistic Media Practices and Commercial Application’ project and the final show Play and Prosume at the Kunsthalle Project Space in Vienna. I developed a piece of practice for this show called Reenacttv: 30 lines / 60 seconds, which is a development of the overall PhD practice research. I performed this piece on the opening night of the project (5/3/13) and the work was displayed for 2 weeks at the end of which I returned to Vienna to give an Invited Presentation - contextual performance and talk in the Technology, Advertising and the Avant Garde strand on 16/3/13.

April 2013. Reenacttv: 30 lines / 60 seconds

I performed a new version of 30 lines / 60 seconds at the Dutch National TV Archive /Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum on 16/4/13 during the “Advertising the Sublime” Knowledge Transfer event.

September 2013. Performance and contextual talk on 30 lines / 60 seconds and my PhD research at the Raymond Williams and John Logie Baird – Television, Technology and Cultural Form conference at the University of Brighton in Hastings.

Publications:

2011. Ellis P., Self-Service Broadcasting: reenacttv.net presentation, and paper for Public Interfaces, international Conference at the Center for Digital Urban Living (DUL), Digital Aesthetics Research Centre (DARC), and Dept. of Aesthetic Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark, January; paper included in peer-reviewed publication, March 2011.

2011. Ellis P., chapter reenacttv.net: re-working the site(s) of new television: the dialogic process between participants, contemporary and historical television, and the archive in Communications: The European Journal for Communication Research, Special Issue: Revisiting Digital Media Technologies, 3/2011, Editors: Caroline Bassett (University of Sussex, UK), Maren Hartmann (University of the Arts Berlin, DE), Kate O’Riordan (University of Sussex, UK), (Jeffrey Wimmer (University of Ilmenau, DE).

2011. Ellis, P., Open Triggers presentation and paper for WRO Media Art Biennale, Wroclaw Poland, 10 May 2011 - 14 May 2011

2010. Ellis P., The body of the text: the uses of the “ScreenPage” in new media, chapter in Broadhurst, S & Machon, J. (eds.), Sensualities/Textualities and Technologies: Writings of the Body in 21st Century Performance. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

2010. Ellis P., reenacttv.net: the dialogic process between participants, contemporary and historical television, and the archive presentation and paper for The 1st FIAT/IFTA Television Studies Seminar, INA Centre Pierre Sabbagh, Paris, France, May

2009. Ellis P., flow is now viral is agency: re-working the site(s) of new television presentation, and paper for The Ends of Television international Conference at  The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) and the Department of Media Studies of the Universiteit van Amsterdam, Holland, June

2009. Ellis P., flow is now viral is agency: re-working the site(s) of new television presentation, and paper for Digital Media Technologies Revisitedinternational Conference at The University of the Arts, Berlin, Germany, November