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Ballettikka Internettikka

  • by Bojana Kunst
  • CYNETart - Hellerau, Dresden, Germany
  • November 2007

Igor Stromajer and his Intima Virtual Base have been dealing with non-obedient protocols and connections in his net art projects, net performances and projects for mobile phones already for a decade. How his work is opening up the possibility of disobedient connection can be revealed with the help of Ballettikka Internettikka project, created together with the composer Brane Zorman (MC Brane). The Ballettikka Internettikka is created as a series of Internet performances, where artists are entering well-known artistic and public venues and transmitting their ballets live on the Internet. The actions are mostly done illegally, always connected to the real place, venue or event. All the dancing actions are contextualised around the intervention in the real space, around the technical tools they are using for transmissions and with the particular content of each performance. At the same time the reality of every performance is transformed through the Internet transmission into the particular performative form. It can be described as a black and white guerrilla style of dancing, with Stromajer and Zorman or robot dancing, accompanied by MIDI or MP3 music by MC Brane.

The series of projects discloses an entangled mixture of contexts to us, which seems to be taking their inspiration from Baudrillard's well-known notion "the very definition of the real is that of which is possible to give an equivalent reproduction."[1] But the relationship between the real and simulated, between the real event and transmission is not in the core of the project. The precise artistic form of the project is derived from a very specific understanding of technology, which is being used not only in the effective but also in an affective way: disclosing the desires, sensations and utopian sides of contemporary technological connections. On one side there is a consistent low-tech (non-spectacular) approach to the technology in their work, using more or less cheap available tools for (real and transmitted) performances. On the other side there is a strong "high-tech" imaginary situation, where artists are performing the role of high-tech interventionists, which is not to be ironic, since they really have to be effective in their affective connections. The connection is then not only technical procedure, depending on the technical protocols. When established, the connection is also depending on desires; it is affective and full of emotions. In Ballettikka Internettikka the visual images are carefully enframed inside the real situations, nevertheless at the same time these performative breakthroughs are also imaginary, full of black and white emotional tonalities, transmitting repetitive and sometimes hardly visible structures. The audience is enjoying the event and at the same time tracing it, almost detecting the happening, the connected event.

In Ballettikka Internettikka connection is not only part of performance, but it is the very form of performance. By that I do not mean that the performances are done in the activistic/hactivistic sense - where disobedience to the common use of connection means alternative communication, circuit breakers, eluding of control with viruses and techno-piracy. Here we can find a different method at work. Through the formal consistency of Ballettikka Internettikka performances, continuously done by minimalist, ascetic, low-tech form, the connection itself is revealed as "theatre." There is an intriguing pathos in every connected event, being not only the result of the specific tension between the time of connection and the time of disconnection, but also a result of the ludic play of desire. Such performative form is ironically subverting the issues of mastery and representation, efficiency and succesfullness, loneliness and community, especially in performances with robots like Ballettikka Internettikka Illegallikka Robottikka in La Scala (Milan, 2004) and VolksNetBallet in Volksbühne (Berlin, 2006). When the connection is established, it has nothing to do with efficiency. Rather, it is always full of emotional noise, depending from desires and projections, fictionalized through the real-ness and unreal-ness of the places between which it mediates, materialized always as a stylistic, pathetic procedure. As with Ballettikka Internettikka in the Bolshoi Theatre (Moscow, 2002), for example, where artists were illegally entering the basement of the theatre and transmitting their ballet live on the Internet. The artists told us that they wanted to dance in the name of all other dancers who had the desire to perform in the "world's No. 1" classical ballet theatre. A sentence is a trigger, which has to be nevertheless taken seriously. The guerrilla performance with the help of wireless mobile connection is done in the name of the desire to perform, but what is performed here is exactly the desire itself; the desire to be there, which is today very often the same as being connected. The form of performance is the form of connection itself - its timing, affectiveness, tension and dependence on technical protocols, its repetitive visuality.

In VolksNetBallet (Berlin, 2006) eleven robots and one flying cow are dancing in the basement toilet of the famous Berlin theatre. An ironic counterpoint to the name of the famous venue, we might say; where the well-known "people's stage" is replaced by the miniature people's private place. At the same time, the event took place "on the very same evening and in the very same city as another huge popular festivity - the World Cup final soccer match (Football World Cup, Germany 2006). The connected event is established in the middle of various popular events and venues dedicated to the people, who are represented here with the group dance of eleven robots and a flying cow. The emotional tonality of this connection is surprising, since it discloses the connected ways of belonging to each other, the paradoxical ways of how do we desire community in the world of spectacular representations and institutionalized venues for critical discourse. It will be also very interesting to watch one of the next Ballettikka Internettikka action planned for November 2007 in Hong Kong, which is announced as a remake of the Berlin event. A remake, which is centred on another name for the people - the Chinese notion of renmin (Hong Kong's RenminNetBallet instead of the Berlin's VolksNetBallet) - but will be this time performed in the highly urbanized and globalised place of Hong Kong.

We can conclude that with the entrance of connection into contemporary public life, we should not forget on its potential for mediation and belonging. Otherwise public political life will be more and more reduced to the battle of transparent interests incessantly systematized and regulated, where disobedience will also be defined by a strict protocol. Perhaps one way to achieve this is to venture into the mediation of connection by means of, as Brian Holmes has suggested, unstable, difficult and at times uncultured mimicry.[2] But mimicry is not only what Ballettikka Internettikka is about. What is even more important is a certain theatricality of connection at work in Stromajer's and Zorman's projects, achieved with very clear artistic form and decisions. We can say that Ballettikka Internettikka projects are created around the research of poesis of connection. The connection is materialized with the use of available technology, but at the same time it is performed as excessive, affective, desiring and intense. The connection is not only about technical functionality and effectiveness, but it is also affective and full of sensations. The interesting fact is that this affective side is exactly at the core of contemporary economic and political power, which would continuously like to colonize the mediation and belonging implemented in the connection itself. With Ballettikka Internettikka an intriguing poetic use of connection and different imaginations of a connected world become visible, and the need for alternative politics of connection becomes even stronger.

1. Jean Baudrillard: Simulations, Semiotexte, New York, 1983, p. 146.
2. Holmes, Brian: Hieroglyphs of the Future, Zagreb 2003.

Igor Štromajer Intima Virtual Base Virtualna baza Intima Igor Stromajer www.intima.org Igor Štromajer

Ballettikka Internettikka

Intima Virtual Base - www.intima.org