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Chatroom Plays

ASV [v.f.] 1.0 was the first version of the " chatroom plays" project which are open performance events proposed by Vincent Makowski / AmsterdamEditions*

ASV [v.f.] 1.0 was performed on Sat March 23rd 2002 at 5 pm CET in the chatroom installed on for the occasion during the Internet Fiesta and the Irish Museum of Modern Art's first open exhibition in which the website was involved.

The chatroom plays just slightly twist the original purpose of chatrooms. With ASV [v.f.] 1.0 (which in English should rather be ASL for Age, Sex and Location, the most basic self definition given by chatroom users to those they interact with) I intended to use a chatroom as a theater stage and asked professional actors along with some people having no acting experience to play a role we defined together. I am not a stage director myself and my aim was certainly not to play this role in the usual understanding of the word. Indeed, none of the actors' cues were pre-written and we had no rehearsal whatsoever. Furthermore, we never met before and even during the performance. Our communication only went through e-mails exchanged between the actors and myself. They were asked to define their own role and we built their character and personality together through e-mail exchanges from then on. No plot was defined prior to the performance : I was not interested in creating a linear fiction but rather a real time remote interaction between the actors. The time necessary for typing the cues (which varied from one actor to another depending on how fast they could type) generated delays in the answers to specific cues. This succession of unrelated cues could be read as something close to the "cadavre exquis" developped by the surrealists. Eventhough data was instantly transmitted simultaneously to all the actors' computer screens, the keyboard operating introduced a stretch, a delay preventing real time exchanges to be experienced. This paradoxical man/machine ability and time was, more than the content of the cues themselves, at the center of this work.

A nymphomaniac F1 pilot-suit designer from Texas, a retired colonial British Colonel, a young pretty utopian from Paris, a Sicilian gay and communist Earl, an artificial intelligence prototype developped by a Belgian scientist and a formerly imprisoned Viennese Actionnist converted to watercolor teaching for wealthy Americans in Provence were some of the characters of this absurd dialogue. Their conversation was engaged around a mysterious announcement made by Otto Weissmuller : "Ms B. wants to die. The place is not too appropriate, we're not alone here." Besides the defined characters, any member of the audience could decide to switch status and become actively involved in the play.

An international version performed by office workers during their work time is currently being prepared. Some of the next versions might also be experienced in already existing chatrooms which should result in a different type of interaction with an unwitting audience.

The play is edited in its full extend (in its original language : French) as an archive of a past event, the play was nevertheless obviously meant to be experienced as a "live" event.

Vincent Makowski

ASV [v.f.] 1.0 was performed by : Amelie Aiguier, Jerome Bru, Guillem Crousillat, Fabien Gomez, Philippe Guintrand, Bastien Hild, Stephanie Valois, Xavier et Vincent Makowski

The Chatroom Plays require any kind of chat oriented basic technologies such as ICQ or IRC.