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For three years, artist and independent curator Jorge Rojas has been experimenting on the sharpest edge of contemporary art where human-to-human performance breaks out on the Web.
His exhibition "Low Lives" links performance artists around the world through real-time streaming video for two days of back-to-back performances from 50 artists. Rojas acknowledges it's s a tricky concept for many people, even contemporary artists, to understand.
"It is difficult to get your arms around," he says, but worth it. "[Live online performance] gets you thinking about time and space and distance and the potential of performance online. It gets you thinking, 'Wow, this is really interesting.' "
This year's exhibition, "Low Lives 3," will include a world-wide broadcast of a live performance at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts by Kristin Lucas, a New York-based artist. Visitors to the UMFA can watch Lucas perform in the old-fashioned eyeball-to-eyeball way.
UMFA curator of contemporary and modern art Jill Dawsey says she jumped at the chance to bring the cutting-edge "Low Lives" into her bricks-and-mortar museum. She wanted local viewers to experience live performance while exploring the controversial future of digital art.
"It's something that people disagree about," Dawsey says. "Many people say you have to be there. There are lots of ways to enter into performance, but I still value that experience of being in the presence of a performer."
Dawsey doesn't know exactly what Lucas will perform, but expects it will have to do with "advertising culture and the effects of advertising on the self."
Rojas, who will act as a digital DJ and stage manager, will also be on view at the UMFA. He'll coordinate the performance from 20 venues around the world, including San Francisco, Austin, Oaxaca, Berlin and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
"Some things are lost when going through virtual space, but some things are gained," Rojas says. "A new guard is arguing that everything changes with time and technology. [They ask,] what's wrong with experiencing performance virtually?"
Rojas is intrigued by the impact the Web transmission has on live performances.
"The low-fi aesthetic fascinates me," he says. "A lot depends on the equipment and the Internet connection. You get this pixelated imagery and shoddy audio. I find it kind of beautiful to see something raw and imperfect in this age of high definition."
Live from around the world
P You can experience "Low Lives 3" in two ways: Watch the live performance of artist Kristin Lucas at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts with video feed from other artists that's tonight from 6-10 and Saturday from 1-4 p.m. or follow the performance at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/low-lives-3.
Info • http://www.lowlives.net