STILL IMAGE FROM WIREFIRE PERFORMANCE.
Wirefire is an online performance, a communications environment and a very good story.
This project utilizes technology we have developed to touch through the wires that combines chat, sounds, images, animations and live camera streams to form an interactive, improvisational expression which goes beyond words.
We create simple files which are mixed in real time. Built in is a sytem for us to see the presence of viewers and also a way for the audience to communicate with the performers. The system exists entirely on the Internet meaning that we can be in any location and the performance can be viewed by anyone with a current web browser and the Flash 5 plug-in. This is the only online performance/tool of its kind which we have been operating since July 1999 and in its present format since April 2001.
We are LIVE online inside the Wirefire environment every Thursday night from Midnight to Friday 1am ( Belgian time) Wirefire is meant to be performed and viewed online but we have given non-virtual Wirefire performances in venues such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Walker Arts Center. Wirefire has been presented in locations such as the GMI screen in London and Passage44 in Brussels.
Wirefire is our personal remixer of emotions and graphics, it provides an opportunity to free-associate the themes and materials in our work and an opportunity to infect our collaboration with Autopoëzie.
Wirefire is a meeting of two minds. Michael had an idea of how to make a theatrical entertainment environment where people could connect remotely and act out their fantasies. Auriea, an exhibitionist and performance artist wanted to make an online event which could serve as communication and creative excercise. Both of us with a strong desire to get out of the box and say... show... what we really mean.
This project evolved, most importantly, however, from our earliest forms of communication through the internet. We met each other online and that was for a long time the only means we had to communicate with one another. We used commercially available video chat software but quickly felt its limitations. It had live images and some audio capabilities but left us feeling as if a barrier were between us, a gulf of space and time clouding our feelings. It lacked a way for us to collaborate on our various projects and it lacked feeling.
The sea of frustration which engulfed us during this time raised many issues about what it means to interact with another human using digital media. We created another project titled skinonskinonskin which dealt with our everyday lives and the complications of this new relationship between us in contrast to the intensity of our online correspondance. This is the main current which runs through Wirefire... what does one do when you fall in love with a 160x120 pixel image? How is it to be a digital being in love? What is ecstacy like in the network?
Once we came together in the same location we decided to take what we had learned from our office and the emotional lessons of skinonskinonskin and develop it into something which would be an effective system for our communications while on the road and for public entertainments.
Firengin: the new Wirefire engine
Now the engine behind the Wirefire performance has been completely rewritten, amongst other things to take advantage of the XML sockets interface that version 5 of Macromedia Flash offers. The engine has been streamlined completely and allows for much more flexible employment. The core of the new engine consists of only four files: a client and tool application (both Flash movies) and two CGI scripts written in Perl. Optionally one can add the free Swift-generator (also a CGI script) to this combo, which allows for the direct loading of images and sounds into the Flash environment. The fuel for the engine consists of Flash movies made by the performer(s), pictures and sounds.
We are considering one or both of these strategies, if there is a demand for them, so if you are interested in utilizing the Wirefire environment for yourself let us know.
Mainflame: multi-user Firengin
The Firengin system could also be adapted so it would allow for more than two performers. This brings a whole new dimension to the Wirefire idea. It would be possible to set up a massively-multiplayer network. Initiators could download the Mainflame and install it on their servers. On their servers they would set up one or more Firengin sessions. The initiators decide how many performers are allowed to participate in a session and whether or not the session can be attended by the public.
Firengin is just software. The content of a session depends on the content the performers make for it. This can range from still images to online games, from private one on one text based chat to a multi-user multi-viewer multi-media interactive real-time performance. Plus, with canned and replay mode, it can also be used as a non real-time application.
Auriea Harvey & Michaël Samyn