By DENIELLE LEONG
IN July 2011, performance artist Brian Lobel allowed a panel – of friends and random strangers – to decide if he should “keep” or “delete” any of his 1,355 Facebook friends after listening to a 60-second presentation on each friendship.
Described as “the world’s most brutal game of friendship maintenance”, the project, entitled Purge, sees the American (now based in London) examining the distinction between online and real friendship.
Within the five days that Purge was “performed”, Lobel lost a few hundred friends on the social media platform – including 64 that chose to delete him pre-emptively.
Since then, Lobel has presented his insight from that daring social experiment through his “part game, part story and part lecture” performances around the world, most recently in Malaysia.
Just last week, he took centre stage at the Kakiseni Freespace in SSTwo Mall, Petaling Jaya. It was the first show in Kakiseni’s latest series, SENIfix, an initiative to expose more people to the performing arts by including elements from other fields.
“What Kakiseni is trying to do is to get input and expertise from other fields – say medicine, bio tech, architecture – interested in increasing and promoting an awareness of arts in that particular field,” shared Kakiseni president Low Ngai Yuen.
For Lobel’s arts-meets-digital media show, he collaborated with digital media consultant Niki Cheong to discuss the emotional impact of digital technology on its users. Ironically, Cheong’s role took place on social media where he led a “Twitterpretation” during Lobel’s presentation.
“We’re killing two birds with one stone. While we’re letting others in on what’s happening during the performance, my role on Twitter also sparked discussions on topics related to Lobel’s project,” explained Cheong.
“I’d never seen so much technology in a room like that. It was a weird experience for me,” said Lobel, adding that it was a cool addition.
Overall, it was truly a unique experience and a true testament of the progress that our local performing arts community is making.
To learn more about future SENIfix shows, check out www.kakiseni.com and search the #SENIfix hashtag for tweets related to the series.