Is this THING on?
A class about Livestreaming
– Gray Area Festival Workshop

Is this THING on?
A class about Livestreaming
– Gray Area Festival Workshop

Livestreaming is a hundred billion dollar, global industry owned and controlled by Big Tech. Although streamers create the core value of these platforms, they/we have little agency, from how streams appear to how profits are shared, terms of service, and what social agreements exist between audience and streamers. Is this THING on? is a community-driven livestream network built in the spirit of web3 — decentralizing technology in the service of decentralizing power. Through this software-development-as-critical-performance, we are playfully questioning what exactly web3 is: blockchain versus webring, crypto versus dollars, DAOs versus co-ops. 

THING was founded by artists Bhavik Singh, Christopher Clary, Molly Soda, and Sarah Rothberg. All four met as members of NEW INC’s Rhizome cohort. They have worked together on various projects from programming for the International Center of Photography to online exhibitions for The Wrong Biennale and New Art City.

Workshop Overview

Is this THING on? will lead a workshop about livestreaming. First, we’ll give a brief presentation on the history, creative approaches, and obstacles of livestreaming in its current form, as well as a presentation of THING itself. Then, participants will work in groups to collaboratively come up with and run a livestream using their own assets, culminating in a (most likely chaotic) simulcast of each group’s livestreams. Members of THING will guide individual groups through the process. Participants will also be responsible for defining and applying collective community guidelines for their streams. A discussion/reflection of the process will wrap up the workshop.


This workshop is part of the Gray Area Festival 2022: Distant Early Warnings, and the C/Change Initiative.

Now in its 8th year, this year’s Gray Area Festival partners with the McLuhan Institute to explore artistic practice as an important sensing agent in a world of rapidly evolving media and technology. Building off work by media theorist Marshall McLuhan, who in 1964 compared artists to Cold War–era distant early warning systems which were designed to raise alarms at signs of impending nuclear catastrophe, this festival stakes a role for arts and technology experimentation as a critical research & development department for society.

C/Change is a joint initiative by Goethe-Institut San Francisco and Gray Area, exploring ways emerging technologies can shape and support digital cultural exchange.

Course Logistics

Dates
Sunday, October 2, 2022

Location
Gray Area
2665 Mission Street
San Francisco

Time
11AM – 2PM

Cost
$20 – We also offer Diversity Scholarships, find out more and apply here

Experience level
Anyone who is interested in livestreaming, community agreements, performance, conversations around web3 and decentralization is welcome to join!

Course Requirements
Bring a laptop that has access to a webcam (only one needed per group).

Course Outline

– Introductions
– Livestream/THING demo and presentation
– Breakout into groups to workshop potential streams and community guidelines (guided by members of THING)
– Stream in the space
– Reflection/discussion

About Technologies

Groups will create their own “stream rooms” using various platforms. They will then be able to go live to these rooms, and create interactive streams that will be projected on the big screen in the theater and be available on the internet.

Educational / Experiential Goals

Create a collaborative stream and set of community guidelines using THING strategies. Think critically about livestreaming, platform capitalism, web3 and decentralization.

Instructor(s)

Chris’ practice is all about connecting — making things that we can live through and expand with to know our own affective, queer selves. He’s thankful to have been an Eyebeam fellow, NEW INC member, New Art City curator, awarded by the New Jersey Council on the Arts, commissioned by Rhizome, exhibited at Rencontres d’Arles, sold at Art Book in China, collected by MoMA, reviewed in Art in America, and bested by Hyperallergic. Based on the Jersey Shore.

Bhavik is a Sikh artist and technologist from New Delhi, India. His work, a gentle tapestry of social software, creates space for groups to slow down and express themselves. Bhavik has been a designer at Google, a member of NEW INC and has taught at the Cooper Union School of Art and at Hunter College, CUNY. He is currently working on soft networks – an exploratory design and development studio imagining alternative futures for community technology.

Molly makes videos, installations, and web-based, interactive works on performing the self, memory, aspiration, and consumer culture. Molly is the creator of the video game “Wrong Box” and is the recipient of the Lumen Prize Founder’s Award. Her work has been shown at Artists Space, Jack Barrett Gallery, Eyebeam, The National Portrait Gallery, and The Ulay Foundation. Molly is an alum of NEW INC and the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum. Based in Brooklyn.

Sarah is an artist and educator who works with interactive technologies to reflect on embodiment, the impact of new media, and the relationship between the personal and complex systems. Currently, Sarah’s full-time faculty at NYU ITP/IMA and has shown work in a variety of contexts (including bitforms gallery, CES, and the screens in the New York Subway stations), and been affiliated with organizations including NEW INC, ONX Studio, Apple, and Adobe. Based in Brooklyn.