"The point is to make something new; something that doesn't even remotely remind you of culture." --Allan Kaprow
Imagine a space filled with people from all over the world--people of different ages & backgrounds, people who speak different languages, believe different things about politics & religion--people who are as different on the inside, as they are on the outside.
Now, imagine these people participating in a performance-event together. Could this space, these people, & this experience transform the world?
The Digital Happening project was conceptualized in 2016 as a response to Sally Banes' comparison of Allan Kaprow's Happenings and Marshall McLuhan's Global Village. Conceptualized, prototyped, & actualized as an interactive online experience, the Digital Happening project uses social media to expand the performance art Happenings of the 60’s beyond Greenwich Village to the larger global village. The Digital Happening project fosters a world-making community of citizen curators.
What is art?
What is not art?
What is not, not art?
People have been asking these questions for decades—from Futurists like Umberto Boccioni, to Dadaists like Marcel Duchamp; from Fluxus artists like Yoko Ono, to Pop Artists like Andy Warhol. Allan Kaprow’s 1960’s Happenings were an amalgamation of their predecessors; they incorporated audience participation, as well as found objects, to blur the lines between life and art.
The Digital Happening project uses social media to contemporize the Happenings of the 60's; it draws artistic focus to the everyday practice of engaging with 21st-century media. In his guided pied-pier tours, Kaprow gave participants esoteric instructions as he led them around New York City. Similarly, the Digital Happening project asks participants post on social media in response to vague instructional prompts.
#digitalhappening is durational, conceptual, and subversive. #digitalhappening is interactive, experiential, and thought-provoking. #digitalhappening is sense-ational, a visceral extravaganza, a gesamtkunstwerk.
A truly ambitious and successful digital happening. I look forward to its next iteration. And it is, as you wrote, a realization (if only temporarily) of McLuhan's notion of a "global village." The deeper theoretical questions are: how can the ephemerality of Kaprow's Happenings (they occur, they vanish) be accomplished digitally where everything is preserved in the archive ... forever? And how can the fleshly immediacy of "village" be accomplished when people meet only via sight and sound, digitally? Maybe you are seeking a new kind of "flesh"? A new kind of "disappearance"? Those ideas would be worth exploring, I think.
My digitalhappening experience was one of nostalgia and sweet irony. The piece calls for a memory. I for one, can't remember most events from my childhood, but for some reason I can recall this day clearly. My cousins and I were in a school play. I played the bride and they were my bridesmaids. I specifically remember feeling disgusted by my pretend husband and excited about wearing the dress. Holding hands and the dreaded kiss at the end was all I worried about the night before. The irony is they are both married with children and I'm not. We had a great conversation about our memories after I posted it. Each of them recollecting unique and interesting details that I had long forgotten. In conclusion, my digitalhappening experience initiated a great conversation and caused me to realize some cliches are true. Memories are better when shared. A digitalhappening is a communicative performance-art experience using multimedia in an inclusive yet individual way.
Collecting the posts and responses...what you did was really interesting! Looking forward to the next digital happening!
It was real, but not real-- It was live, but not live. When I posted it, it was not anymore a personal treasure. It transformed as official thoughts.
[#digitalhappening] was more contemplative and abstract [than my daily social media usage].
The digital happening was a call to extend our perception of the self, of belonging to a (digital)community and what it means to belong to a digital community. It pushed me to think about how we communicate online and whether we in fact can find a sort of social experience through our keyboards, our posts and our online communication. I also wondered whether one could further explore the option of making art with others online through mediums like the digital happening prompts? Would that extend our notion of collaboration, of what belongs to the internet and what may not, and of how we can continue pushing boundaries and ways to interact by innovation and play! ❤
[During the event] I was actually responding to something, which I don't normally do. Normally I just post whatever comes to mind at any given moment.
It was both an individual and communal experience. I posted when I was alone, so that felt individual. But when my post became part of the "archive," then I felt like it and/or I was part of a community.
When I was part of #digitalhappening I found the tension between the ephemeral and the everlasting to be very interesting. The operational instructions in Ono's 'Grapefruit' call for actions that are unique, and cannot be represented or repeated. However the digital reproduction, the Boomerang, allows for a never ending loop of a moment. What does this capsule of time bring to the happening? Is our digital deployment of "self" on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter a kind of digital happening? Today most people, almost every middle class person, has access to the means to produce, reproduce and publish his/her own life. Perhaps cultural production has never been so close to the general public as it is today. There are actions that change the way you move and interact with the world. They change your perception of things, they show new beauty. They are little, they can be uploaded. Those actions are happenings, and they can go digital!
Becoming part of #digitalhappening made me feel symphonic and orchestral.
[The experience] was more interactive to what others were posting than what I normally post.
It was, somehow, both more and less thoughtful [than my daily engagement with social media].
[The event] was designed to be more interactive, in that the post was motivated by the Happening, not my own interests/objectives.
The digital happening made me feel.
I participated in #digitalhappening 2016 & 2017. I describe the event as a twenty-first century gathering of humans sharing singular ideas. It took place on multiple social media platforms and gave the participants both the opportunity to share their own reactions to prompts and, even more intriguing, it offered the chance to view other responses by strangers from around the world. I navigated the prompts and shared my reactions on Instagram. The experience gave me a feeling of connection to the greater universe. The feeling of connection came as individuals began to share unique reactions. I loved seeing all the responses. That was my favorite aspect of the event.
I found participating in the digital happening more structured and more thoughtful than my daily social media usage.
[I felt] connected to others participating online and together with me as a group.
It felt great to participate. [I felt] true. True to myself.
[Participating] was confusing and exhilarating!
This took more care and effort. I was curating, not just for myself, but something that would fit in with the entire event.
Digital happening felt like a community of people posting their thoughts based off of the prompts given. It was cool to see a cohesive theme throughout the postings (touch) and to be aware with that theme that we were working on being connected to each other through social media. I dont really know about the happenings of the 60s, but it felt like a community. The best part was going back on the accounts after the happening ended to see what everyone else posted.
[#digitalhappening] was thought provoking and gave ownership.
[The event] was different for me because it was collaborative. Usually social media feels really individual.
I felt more conscious, as if I had a purpose for it (participating in an art experiment.)
Having to respond to the 'soup can' prompts was a different experience, usually I'm responding to political statements or commenting on a photo. Having an archive influenced my response.
More thought was involved for the digital happening posts; I cared more.
What was so special about #digitalhappening was its unifying aspect. I enjoyed seeing people from different states, walks of life, and perspectives commenting creatively on prompts from Yoko Ono's 'Grapefruit'. I saw posts from many burroughs of New York, on the beaches of San Diego, inside museums, and on the streets of cities. I felt like I was part of an artistic experiment, like I could freely interpret Yoko Ono's words into my own vision. For me, #digitalhappening was a successful experiment in modernizing Allan Kaprow's Happenings of the 1960s. All participants could view the #digitalhappening website, follow instructions, and receive a prompt from Yoko Ono's 'Grapefruit.' One had the creative liberty to interpret the prompt and post on social media. The collection of responses to the prompts collated until the #digitalhappening ended (a time limit was given on the event).