preparation in front of two webcams

How to communicate via two moving images? Which performances do the virtual spaces - cut out by two webcams - allow? And what does the juxtaposition of the moving images create? Is it possible to make an intimate space occur in which two women can encounter each other through their live-videos? And who/what is choreographing this encounter? What emerges when two vulnerable bodies, silence, broken communication, a few mundane objects, a lot of uncertainty and some fragmented comments meet?


Reflections on the three performances September 2015 :

Annie .pdf
Martina .pdf


Archives :

June 13 2015 : besides, Dear Body,
A visual letter to (and from) two breathing bodies – exposing their fragility, vulnerability, mortality, strength, singularity and anonymity. Our Bodies are full of History. History is embodied – the skin being the imaginary boundary between a "you" and a "me".
Dear body, dear body – dear aging body...

- log of the chat .txt
- video :


June 12 2015 : besides, moved by some thing.
When facing death or illness all the accumulated knowledge surrounding these issues is displaced by experiences that can hardly be shared. Can liminal experiences be communicated verbally? Annie and Martina recently both had an intimate encounter with death and illness and noticed it is very difficult to talk about this experience to others. Some people flee, others need to be reassured. Most art only touches upon it in a symbolical way.
Annie and Martina will try to exchange views on the subject. They prepared this meeting individually, and agreed upon only one rule: the performance will be over when both their webcams will be black for more than one minute.

- notes on death & illness by Annie Abrahams .pdf
- video :

June 11 2015 : besides, the person I am becoming.
As an assemblage of text-fragments and daily objects this live-performance is a series of linkages and open relations between words and banal things. What do words, a pencil and a stone have in common? Does the stone change when being confronted by a hammer? What changes if it is replaced by a pill? Does the image of a spoon change the thought or does the thought change the thing? Images talk as much as words. A month long, Martina and Annie collected words and objects – overheard phrases, poetry, academic citations, a piece of concrete, foam, a photo, a scan. Who says what? What can we understand? What if?
There are no fixed objects and subjects - only dynamic and some times dramatic relations of mutual transformation.

- script of the performance .pdf
- log of the chat .txt
- video


Preparations :

June 8th : "everything is on-the-fly, we don't rehearse, we prepared technics and format together, content is taken care of individually - nothing can go wrong - we create experience ... an encounter with the invisible public"

June, 4th : We wrote descriptions of our intentions for the three performances separately. When we compared these, we saw they resembled, were complementary and decided to mix them.

There is always something that escapes — some dimension of objects, bodies, events, and processes that withdraws despite all visual presence.

June 2nd 2015: testing Object Agency for the first performance.
besides, testing objects agency

Mai 2015 : What do we expect from these experiments? What is our personal motivation?
AA : I want to know Martina better. We met a few times via friends in Ljubljana and Martina was an active participant in the Angry Women project. I am intrigued to see how her background in dance and theory might influence our meetings and I hope to learn something more about the relation between the body and the screen. Since 2000, when I had to stop using a computer for a year, I became more and more interested in the presence of the body in an environment where most people think it is absent. I am also curious to see if, when and how we will integrate the public in our performance conversations.

MR : In the performing arts the live-presence of a body or various bodies in front of other people was and is often regarded as the basic requirement of a performance. What does it mean if the body is mediated by a webcam, cut out from its surrounding, becoming two-dimensional while speaking in real time, if it is seen only if it does not move too much (and stays in the range of the camera)? To what extent does the interface choreograph us as much as we choreograph it?
I am curious about encountering Annie, a woman that is one generation older than me, a woman that experienced many things that I have not experienced yet, a woman that did not experience some things that I experienced. My motivation for this project is having a dialogue with Annie that is guided by mutual curiosity and love for experimentation. And I hope that with this project, with Annie and at the same time alone, I will learn once again how to embrace the unpredictable that is significant for every encounter that makes a difference.

April 2015 :
- We started collecting fragments, sentences etc. as mind triggers for our encounters. These can be anything from overheard phrases to academic citations.
- What is dance? When does it hurt? The body as a constraint.
- What will the performances have in common with reality tv? How will they differ? What will we hide?

December 2014: webcam dramatics exist
- the webcam is the eye, is it a prosthesis of our body, is it a body-extension or is our body an extension of the webcam?
- the webcam shows objects so close they become intimate … why are we so touched by the webcam image showing a face very closely? - because we only look at faces that way in very intimate, private situations (lovers, father, mother). It also refers to the first face we ever saw, when someone looked at us in our craddle.
- The intimacy is also connected with the fact that I watch someone alone – maybe others watch the same live-video at the same time but I cannot see them, I am not in a community with them like in theater. What makes the watching intimate is also the feeling that I watch something that happens in real time.
- an online performance using webcams is closer to making live cinema than theater.

Martina wrote in October 2014: What is interesting for me more and more in thinking about the non-human world of objects is the limits of our, of human, intentionality. The acts and things that we intend to do are one thing and what is done is smth. else - also because of the resistance of the material world, because of the "agency of things" that resist being mere objects for our manipulation or use or consumption. This links also to working with computers, webcams etc. They have their own "agency" somehow and coproduce smth. that is always partially out of our, human control.

Original proposal: a series of web performances by Annie Abrahams: a Dutch net artist and Martina Ruhsam: an Austrian choreographer, performer and writer. Together they will explore the relation of their bodies to the machines they use, specifically in live streaming situations, where they are confronted with bodies no longer being “feelings“ (sensations), but also becoming images to be manipulated by themselves.
Questions they ask are : Which choreography does the square of a webcam-picture allow? What is visible - what not? What escapes visibility? What resists exposure? What belongs to which temporal layer of reality/fiction....

being with - text is radical – coincidences – gestures of resistance - trust and attention - silence is beautiful

besides,preparation in front of two webcams


besides, is a Turbulence commission made possible with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.

logo turbulence


Three online experiments by Annie Abrahams and Martina Ruhsam, who will, once again*, investigate the performative potential of computer-mediated performance. By listening to each other´s gestures (in a visual and acoustic sense) they will choreograph each other despite being geographically far away from each other - Annie will be in Montpellier, Martina in Berlin.


June 11 2015 : besides, the person I am becoming. Duration 20 minutes. The audience can interact via a chatwindow.

June 12 2015 : besides, moved by some thing. An intimate conversation on death and illness. Duration undetermined. No interaction with the public.

June 13 2015 : besides, Dear Body, Duration 3 minutes. With public chatwindow, so we can discuss afterwards.

All performances
- streaming Ivan Chabanaud /
- 19h CET - 1pm EDT

besides,1 pube

besides,2 pube

besides,3 pube


Follow-up :

besides, the city is not a tree
June 22nd 2015, 6pm.
Online at
Based on the concept of besides, the person I am becoming. In the frame of 6PM YOUR LOCAL TIME (6PM YLT).




Martina Ruhsam is working as a choreographer, performer and writer. From October 2008 to March 2009 she was (vicarious) head of the theorycentre in Tanzquartier Wien. In 2011 her book “Kollaborative Praxis: Choreographie” was published by Turia + Kant. Her artistic work and collaborations were presented at various venues and festivals (among others: Wiener Festwochen, Tanzquartier Wien, brut, Kino Siska, Mladi Levi Festival, Museum for Applied Arts Vienna, Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova) – predominantly in Austria and Slovenia. Martina Ruhsam was teaching in Maska´s Seminar for Performing Arts (Ljubljana) and was lecturing internationally. She is a member of the editorial board of Maska. Performing Arts Journal and is regularly contributing articles to the magazine. She published essays in several publications dedicated to the performing arts (f.i. Martina Ruhsam: „Die Inszenierung des Dokuments“, in: Sigrid Gareis/Georg Schöllhammer/Peter Weibel (ed.), exhibition catalogue, Karlsruhe: ZKM, 2012). Currently she is completing a Phd at the Justus Liebig University in Gießen.

Annie Abrahams has a doctoraal (M2) in biology from the University of Utrecht and a MA2 from the Academy of Fine Arts of Arnhem. In her work, using video and performance as well as the internet, she questions the possibilities and limits of communication in general and more specifically investigates its modes under networked conditions. She is known worldwide for her netart and collective writing experiments and is an internationally regarded pioneer of networked performance art.
From 2002 till 2005 she taught at the University of Montpellier in the Arts Department. She curated and organized the project InstantS from 2006 to 2009 and the Breaking Solitude and Double Bind webperformances series in 2007, 2008 and 2009 for In 2012 she co­organised the first Cyposium – online symposium on cyberformance, and published an article on webcam mediated communication and collaboration in JAR #2. In 2013 she started with Emmanuel Guez the ReadingClub project, an online venue for collaborative reading and writing performances. In 2014 she published two books : from estranger to e­stranger with CONA and Aksioma, Ljubljana; and CyPosium ­ the book, co­edited with Helen Varley Jamieson and published by by LINK Editions. Extensive bio+cv.

*They will interrogate how the communication in front of (or is it behind) a webcam is influenced by the possibilities and limits of this body in the frame of a performance in what Annie Abrahams called a universe of lonely togetherness. In her article Trapped to Reveal - On webcam mediated communication and collaboration published in 2012 in JAR, Journal of Artistic Research, you can find more about the background of her collaborative webcam performance projects while focussing on / trying to determine the special aspects of machine mediated communication and collaboration.