October 23, 2014

Performing participation

Performing participation

Instructor: Taeyoon Choi

Class proposal for Spring 2015.

Is there a secret script behind our participation in everyday events? What are the factors that are engineered into human experience? This class will explore the codes of participation embedded in technological spectacle of daily life by staging experimental happenings. Happening, a term coined by a performance artist Allan Kapprow in the 50s, transforms gallery space as an interface for unconventional situations to occur and the public space as a site of confrontation and stimulation. Contemporary performance artists create work outside of division of staged and timed events, toward art work that seeks to establish sense of presence and communing. Audience participation is also the key element in constructing affective and experiential system for technology products, as the terms like User Experience and Interaction Design become common in the design and marketing industry. This class will look at participation as an artistic medium and to reflect on existing modes of participation with critical lens. Typical class will be divided by 40% lecture and 60% student participation through discussion and activities.

Learning outcome Understand the history and meaning of happenings and performance art.
Become confident improvising in unexpected situation. Create series of happenings with instruction and documentation.

Objective Interpret the meaning of participation we perform in daily life, consumption and communication.
Perform participation in the public sphere, building commons between individuals.

Week 1 Performance of everyday life

Lecture on happening between 1955~1985.


Read excerpts from The Practice of Everyday Life is a book by Michel de Certeau and post comment on class blog.

Week 2 Spectacle and Anti-spectacle

Lecture on happening between 1985~2015.


Read Society of the Spectacles by Guy Debord and post comment on class blog.

Week 3 Silence and noise

Lecture on the communication theory of signal and entropy and how message lost between transmission. In class activity of scripting and performing instructions by students.


Read excerpts from Silence by John Cage and post comment on class blog.

Week 4 Movement 1

In class workshop on movement, focusing on stretching and protecting body from movement. Bring yoga mat.


Observe people’s movements in the street and create a sequence of body movements inspired by the observation.

Week 5 Movement 2

In class workshop on movement, focusing on interpersonal movement.
Bring yoga mat.


Write a proposal for midterm piece on class blog.

Week 6 Documentation

Lecture on the significance of documentation and its impact on the experience, and alternative ways of documenting happenings. Midterm presentation.


Create a happening that exists only on documentation.

Week 7 Machine learns participation

Lecture on the history of Human-Computer Interaction and the birth of User Experience.


Read excerpts from War in the Age of Intelligent Machine by Manuel de Landa and post comment on the class blog.

Week 8 Engineering participation

Lecture on participation mechanism in crowd control technology and strategy.


Read excerpts from Strange Future: Pessimism and the 1992 Los Angeles Riots by Min Hyoung Song and post comment on the class blog.

Week 9 Game theory and practice

In class activity to overview alternative games: ARG and Live action role playing.


Design a critical game that challenges the notion of player and audience.

Week 10 Timing

Lecture on staging techniques for happening and time management in improvisation.


Create a list of activity that will trigger participation in massive crowd.

Week 11 Final presentation

The first 8 students.

Week 12 Final presentation

The next 8 students.

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