The world of entertainment is changing. On February 17, 2012, at the Artisphere in Rosslyn, Virginia, the Dresser attended two events where everyone was encouraged to use smartphones during the performance. In fact, prizes were awarded for such behavior.
The two events headlined as "Art Gets Social: Social Media Meets Performance Art" were part of "Global Social Media Week." If you are suspicious that this is connected to advertising, be assured you are correct, but also be aware that the line between advertising and entertainment is so fuzzy now that even Andy Warhol's artistic vision seems too understandably clear. Come on now, Dear Reader, you can tell the difference between soup and art!
Event #1 (oops, the Dresser should not confuse the Twitter world by using the number sign # because in today's world that is a hashtag connecting tweets to topics that matter)--the Dresser will start again. The first event called "e-Geaux [beta]" was an improv performance piece cum tech demo to sell a software application by the out-there tech company Pepys Inc. e-Geaux would help Facebook users avoid friending uncool individuals. Part of the allure of this performance was that the performers asked audience to allow the e-Geaux team to access audience Facebook pages. So photos were pulled from audience Facebook pages and projected on a huge screen. Yes, even the Dresser's current Facebook profile photo appeared on screen.
Meanwhile folks were encouraged to tweet using #egeaux while the performers ran through options in their software with labels like e-Geaux Amigo, e-Geaux Trip, e-Geaux Stoke, Alter e-Geaux and even e-Breaux. As it evolved, a super tweeter in the audience (55 tweets in one hour!) was recognized as an e-Geaux Maniac and given a paper crown. The Dresser thought the conceit of the show, which had about 100 people in the audience with the average age of 32, was clever but could probably use another couple of performances to get the improv aspects working more fluidly. This was definitely a show that was all about me and the luck of the draw.
Event number two was a TWT Slam hosted by poet Holly Bass. What's a TWT Slam? It's like a poetry slam only the writer has a maximum of 140 characters to "impart poetic wisdom." As is Holly's hosting tradition, she began with an OPP (other poet's poem) by Gowri Koneswaran. Gowri K's poem "Techno Friends" dealt with the issue of "friends" on Facebook. Here, Dear Reader, applaud loudly for Holly Bass and her social consciousness. She does not make her poetry programs all about her, though she could because she is an outstanding and prolific performer.
About eight tweeters signed up to face and recite to an audience of about 75 people. Three judges--Angie Goff of NBC4, Glory Edim of Scoutmob, and Amy Saidman of Speakeasy DC--gave a one to ten rating for each performance (content and delivery) with 10 being the best rating. At Holly's urging, and who could resist her charm?, the Dresser stepped up to be the sacrificial goat--the writer who offers up a poetic tweet so the judges can set the rating bar.
Here's how the Nuyorican Poets talk about the goat poet:
"At the National Poetry Slam event, this is called the "Calibration Poet", but at the Nuyorican, we call these poets "Sacrifical Goats" and it means the same thing. This is a poet who is not participating in the Poetry Slam that night, but comes up at the start of the show as a way to give inexperienced judges a chance to practice their scoring skills before the "real" Slammers for that evening perform."
Using phrases from her poem "Diana au Courant," the Dresser offered:
She was a flippy lady
A real sixer in a deck
Of nines. Knew
Of the cock
Of trigger. Oh
The judges ranked the sacrificial goat poem as 8, 8, 7. Seconds later the Dresser's tweet of this poetic fragment reaped an RT (another poet re-tweeted the Dresser's tweet poem to his followers) and then another tweet from some unknown tweeter offering free mobile porn. The Dresser was left to ponder soup or art?
Among the competing tweets were political (how Rick Santorum treats women versus gays), social media (is a girl still a virgin if she shows her boyfriend her tweets?), and personal topics (advice to oneself--give up the graviton to play spin-the-bottle). Among the competitors making the scene was publisher of The Folly print magazine Andrew Bucket. The winner of the TWT Slam won $140. Here is performance poet DJ Tao:
Although the Dresser didn't stick around until the end, she was glad she had attended both events in the "Art Gets Social" lineup. There is much to learn about social media etiquette and the boundaries of self-promotion.