> Sven Goyvaerts | Transmedia student




Documenting Durational Live Performance Art Using Social Media *


On June 16th 2009 I began recording everything I did during the day, sharing my experiences through social media. It was a reality show,
coming to you, on each day, for one whole year, for free.

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watch presentation
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view research dossier
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Where does live performance art end and life begin? Why are such distinctions made, between live art and life itself? What if one tries to overcome these formal differences? Is it possible for me to approach my everyday life as a documentary performance? I feel that this question may lead me into uncharted territory. The end of art as we know it? Or the beginning of a more conscious way of living? In a way though I am merely putting the old art/life conflict back on the agenda, which has been the main subject of the work of several artists from the 70s, including Allan Kaprow, Linda Montano and Sam Hsieh.
So I would say this is just one aspect of the project.

A concept which has on the other hand completely changed from the 70s onward is our concept of presence. Being present in the here and the now means something entirely different today, given the rise of social media. These networks can cause us to rethink where a work of art begins and where it ends, as we immediately share our creative processes with people and extend our work over the web around the world (afterwards, or in the actual moment of live performance). The ubiquitous surveillance and dataveillance technologies in the hands of global corporations form the shadow side to this evolution. These digital tools have become a source of inspiration to me and I am eager to learn more about how
these have been (and are being) employed in live performance art.

The ways in which I discover and record my research information (on the practice of living life as art, while documenting it) obviously encompass
all possibilities available to myself as an individual: becoming conscious of and working with my mind and body, traveling space, recalling memories, communicating through language in order to comprehend accounts from other people, reading books, browsing the internet, doing interviews, etc. Time however is to be considered the most important tool at my disposal, because I feel that time passing – and I hope I am not going too far-out here – in fact does not provide me with more information, but instead reveals my exceedingly limited knowledge and understanding of things. This is also one of the reasons why for my project I am particularly focusing on live performances that are long durational in nature.

The passage of time leads me to question the notion of me being
 a self-
sufficient artist, or ‘self’ at all. This undermining of private intellectual (and subsequent material) ownership ties into five big theories, which support my time-keeping practice – Lacanian psychoanalysis, Buddhism, P2P-philosophy (peer to peer) and live performance art’s main dadas: participation and anti-commodification. Made popular by contemporary thinker Slavoj Zizek, Lacans theory of the human subject as being a void has made a profound effect on me. In Tarrying with the Negative, Zizek writes: “… everything that I positively am, every enunciated content I can point at and say “that’s me” is not “I”; I am only the void that remains, the empty distance towards every content.” To talk about void is to talk about Buddhism. According to the Madhyamikas there are no such things as ‘inherently existing things’, but only ‘interdependent related events’. This interdependency is threefold: (1) appearances manifest themselves depending on causal influences, (2) they are dependent on their own parts or attributes and (3) appearances that are formed in our world of experience are dependent on the way
we verbally and conceptually name them. On the basis of this illusory make-believe it is very tempting to consider these appearances, or 

to qualify them as, self-sufficient things. One calls this temptation ‘reification’ and to the Madhyamikas this is a basic hereditary misconception that opens the doors to many psychological ailments. Reification takes away the context. Peer-to-peer (P2P) philosophy, masterminded by Belgian Michel Bauwens, supports a redistribution 
of property, “made possible by internet technologies and a critical look at current authoritarian and centralized social structures” (from Wikipedia). And then finally, fundamental components of live performance art such as audience participation and its resistance to commodification may facilitate an art world in which anyone could potentially be considered an artist.
By choosing to pass time and not to produce any art objects I hope to raise awareness on these themes of collectiveness and, most of all,
 threatening illusions that permeate life.

Threats to society, created on the basis of misconceptions, that need 

to be addressed are, for instance: individualism, systemic violence (the violence that is not directly inflicted by us but the kind that is enforced by the capitalist system which provides for us), dangers to ecology, poverty, humanism (as in the idea that people are all born good), etc. But the key reason why I hold to the abovementioned theories is for my own sanity.

I don’t think there is anything more important for me than to be okay with not knowing who I am, which is probably the most defining of all human characteristics. In his recent book Als een gebroken spiegel,

Marc Verminck writes: “… in a certain sense we are all, if we are not insane, neurotic, if only because there simply are no really good or
 fitting solutions. But art (or good art) is not neurosis. (…) Neurosis stages phantasy on a private level, the art stages phantasy on a public level.” 

To proclaim my life as a live performance art piece, to document it and
to present it in front of an audience gives me a chance to elevate 
my existential undecidedness from the private to the public sphere.

This project is part of my ongoing investigation into the relation between live performance art and its documentation, which has now grown to include the world of social media, as well as my own everyday life.



Documenting Durational Live Performance Art Using Social Media

1. preserving durational live performance art through the use of social networking sites

2. inventorying contemporary durational live performance art pieces that implement social media

3. artistic practice in which consistent documentation via social media becomes a live performance in itself


uploaded audio excerpts of interviews with

curator Paula Orrell (March 7th 2010)
media artivist Joseph DeLappe (March 15th 2010)
and net artists Eva & Franco Mattes (March 16th 2010)

in the context of the research project
Documenting Durational Live Performance Art Using Social Media