In this perfomance I put myself in the exhibition space for the opening wearing a custom-built eye tracker which showed in real-time where my gaze was directed, observable on screens attached to my augmented body.
Die Pose muß viel allgemeiner als fotografische Prägung des Körpers verstanden werden, derer sich das Subjekt nicht unbedingt bewußt ist: Sie kann das Resultat eines Bildes sein, das so oft auf den Körper projiziert worden ist, daß das Subjekt beginnt, sich sowohl psychisch wie auch körperlich mit ihm zu identifizieren. Dieses Bild ist im übrigen durchaus nicht immer schmeichelhaft oder lustvoll besetzt.«
Throughout the twentieth century there was a growing debate about the gaze and it's implication on society and individuals within it.
The technological developments of the early twenty-first century added a new immediacy and impact to this. The gaze itself of course always had been immediate, observable by the parties involved. But it was limited to its physical environment. Audience measurement was rudimentary. Not so in the present day and especially the internet: Knowing who sees what when had grown beyond mass surveillance. Every user of social media gets near to real-time feedback on their performance.
Results vary, but the influence of the public *tele*gaze has been strong enough for large shares of social media users turn to (supposedly) more oblivious and private ways of exposing themselves, such as Snapchat (and the inclusion of their features into other mainstream products). Silverman's words on unconsciously posing for the camera seem to fulfill even more today, taking into account just how often each individual is photographed (or photographing themselves). And on the other side the emergence of terms such as social cooling proves that users now feel, acknowledge and fear that even looking at something is an act with strings attached.
The performance Blickregime (sehen und gesehen werden) bridges the technological and social/physical space into a performance. This format creates an actual experience of gazing and being gazed upon, a fundamental advantage. Only in involuntarily forcing bystanders to take both sides it can be achieved to gain an understanding (and hence empathy) of the ubiquitous process, the social dynamic of the regime of the gaze. The performance initially has no claim to action: merely by existing it attempts to expose the existence of the regime.
In echo to Minujín's work the opening was chosen as the ideal moment of observation. The multiple layers of sehen und gesehen werden (see and be seen) unfold: gallery visitors see artworks, gallery visitors see gallery visitors, gallery visitors see the performance, the performer sees gallery visitors and artworks and everybody can see exactly how the performance sees all this, inviting the visitors to extrapolate this visibility to their own gaze and that of their surrounding.
A feedback system establishes itself. The gaze is felt, spatially, physically. And as a performer I am the first to notice the arising self-censorship. Moving your eyes loses it's unconscious innocence. The sensation stays, even after leaving the apparatus. You'll never look at anything the same way anymore.