Ubermatic webcam performances

Ubermatic have been using networked video (webcams, surveillance cameras etc.) as part of performance and installation work for many years and while in many ways it seems directly descended from the Surveillance Camera Players, the works go further than just raising awareness of surveillance in the public domain. What follows is a look at two of their works which employ webcams.


AFK (image above) is a series of onsite / online performances created by Michelle Teran of Ubermatic in collaboration with Isabelle Jenniches.

AFK stands for ‘Away from Keyboard’. These and many other abbreviations are commonly used in online chatrooms and on mobile phones to send SMS/ text messages. In the series AFK each performance involves sending a message coded in this way in front of public webcams monitoring urban and non-urban landscapes. The short messages capture moments of mobility and presence.

Getting Ready

Getting Ready (images above) created by Michelle Teran:

is a time-based web-cam performance and installation for internet broadcast. It takes anticipation as its subject and therefore the process of preparing the environment is the focus of the event. The event is presented in real-time and is received by both viewers at ART Firm gallery in Toronto via a computer monitor installed in the gallery, and by viewers in the virtual community.

The performance begins in my studio. A video camera points at an empty white space. During the course of the presentation, a three dimensional recreation of Edgar Degas’ painting “La Famille Bellelli” is constructed and I enter the finished environment in character.

A video camera in my studio captures images every minute and sends them to a server. Images will therefore be refreshed every 1-2 minutes on the website, illustrating the developmental stage of the room installation. When the room is complete and I am in costume the performance ends, and images are no longer transmitted.

Above (from top left to bottom right) can be seen Edgar Degas’ painting La Famille Bellelli and stills of various stages in the performance.