Web Seance: Brainwave Drawing
Park Bench Commissioned by Banff Centre For the Arts

Cyber Audience Invited to Participate in Web Collaborative Performance in Conjunction with Streaming Exhibition at the Walter Phillips Gallery @ Banff Centre for the Arts

Wednesday, June 16th 11:30 pm (EST)/ 9:30 pm (CMT)
June 30th, July 14th, and July 28th 5pm (EST)/3pm (CMT)

ParkBench, a collaborative artist network known for its experimentation with the Web to discover its potential for creative, collaborative expression, has been commissioned by the Banff Centre for the Arts to create a Web performance. ParkBench's inspiration has been to address the physical disconnectedness of the information age by creating NetWorks which interface physical and cyberspace.

Web Seance: Brainwave Drawing will take place simultaneously in two locations on Wednesday, June 16th (11:30pm NYC and 9:30pm Banff), as well as on the Web. One performer will be in the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre and the other will be located at Suzerain Studios in New York City. Each performer will be connected to electroencephalographic (EEG) equipment. Audio and visual interpretation of their composite brainwave drawing will be seen by all who visit the Web site. The Web audience will have an active participation with their presence felt not only by the "EEG Artists" but by all who are present in cyberspace at the time of the live streaming performances. Additionally, those physically present at both sites will view large projections of the performance and be able to participate at stations in the physical space along with the EEG artists.

Subsequent Web Seances will occur every two weeks on consecutive Wednesdays: June 30th, July 14th, and July 28th. These performances will occur at the same locations as the initial Web Seance, but at 3pm CMT (5pm EST and 10pm in London), in order to accomodate global audiences as best possible. Performances will be archived and accessible on the ParkBench site.

Web Seance is a metaphor for cosmic consciousness. A seance is conducted by a Medium who summons spirits on behalf of those still here on earth, where others may be present as supporters to witness, usually joining hands to concentrate their energy to assist in manifesting the ethereal beings. The medium is the Medium in this seance, in which a Web-based, artificially intelligent "chatterbot" leads the seance. The Web site gives the audience a place on the Web to "join hands," keeps track of those present, and lets them know who else is there with them.

From October to December of 1998, ParkBench were in residence at Banff Centre for the Arts, where they created an installation/event called Connecting the Dots. This piece explored the space between thought and experience in a live web performance in which two people's brainwave communication was mediated by images and sounds. Web Seance: Brainwave Drawing extends this piece by using the Web to join two performers, and by creating a virtual circle whereby the Web audience adds their attention to the piece.

As artists-in-residence at NYU's Center for Advanced Technology since 1994, Nina Sobell and Emily Hartzell have created innovative uses of the Web as ParkBench, including ArTisTheater, the Web's first live video art performance space, and VirtuAlice, a mobile telepresence video installation. They have presented their work at Interfaces '97 in Montpellier, CHI 97 (Computer-Human Interaction Conference), ISEA 97, SIGGRAPH96, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, St. Martin's School of Art in London, Cooper Union, Columbia University, Cornell University and Sony. The ParkBench Web site was Yahoo's Pick of the Week in January 1999 and was nominated in the arts category of the 1999 Webby Awards, the "Oscars of the Internet" from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. It has also won awards from Excite, NetGuide, the Gollywood '95 Web Film Festival and the "Best in CyberArt Award".

Web Seance is created by ParkBench, the collaborative team of artists currently involving Sonya Allin, Emily Hartzell and Nina Sobell.

For additional information, to interview the artists, photos, etc, contact: Nina Sobell

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