chapter for Leonardo book on Women, Art, and Technology

published by MIT Press

August, 1998

Nina Sobell and Emily Hartzell:
Collaborators in Art with Technology

by Emily Hartzell


Nina Sobell and I have experimented with the Web to discover its potential for creative, collaborative expression, and to explore and sculpt the boundaries between physical space and cyberspace. Our work has grown directly out of Nina's interactive video installations of the early 1970's, in which she used the medium to sculpt space and time, and to create bridges for shared human experience. Our inspiration, in ParkBench, has been to address the physical disconnectedness of the information age by creating a safe place to congregate in cyberspace. Our work has inspired the development of new technologies, including a wireless telerobotic video camera for streaming video to the Web from remote locations.

"VirtuAlice is a passage between physical and cyber space. We converge from Web-side and street-side, explore parallel spaces separated by glass, and peer through the membrane at each other's representations. We control aspects of each other's environments and perform a collaborative dance in between. We wonder with Alice at the keyhole to Webland, 'What good are our heads without our shoulders?'"
N. Sobell/
E. Hartzell


Nina Sobell began experimenting with video in the 1970's, first integrating it into sculptural works, then combining it with computers and telecommunications devices to design interactive installations. She discovered that the very presence of technology alters peoples' behavior, due to its capacity to mediate experience, to manipulate space and time, and due also to peoples' belief in its power. She has used these phenomena to sculpt social space. In other words, she has used technology as a prop to give participants permission to overcome various types of boundaries--physical and social--to communicate with one another.

I met Nina in 1992, a few years after graduating from Harvard in Visual and Environmental Studies, where I focused in experimental photography and visual analysis. Working as an independent curator at Granary Books Gallery at the time, I was looking for artists for my second show. Nina was looking for a writer, and we have worked collaboratively since then. In 1994, we were invited to be Artists-in-Residence at New York University's Center for Advanced Technology to develop ParkBench, a public artwork which addressed the issue of access, and which used the internet to extend the theme of communication from Nina's earlier work. This essay tells the story of our ongoing work together, and also details its conceptual roots, in Nina's groundbreaking experiments, installations, and performances.

The Roots of Our Collaboration

In order to shed light on our collaboration as ParkBench, it may be helpful to have a brief background of my own work and our early projects together. My first curatorial project, At the Intersection of Cinema and Books, included cinematic artists' books, photographic and video installations, and a couple of videotapes. [1] Centering on the relations among photographic images--sequence, series, interval, montage, juxtaposition--the show raised questions about the ways in which these relationships, and the media which structure them, influence the meaning we make from images. It was in the process of gathering work for the show, in 1991, that I realized the impact digital media were bound to have on my life, as they revolutionized the means of creating, reproducing, and distributing images. By the time I began to conceive my next show, I was looking for something entirely different. My anchor was still in "the book," but this time rather than focusing on its capacity to bear meaning through symbols, I examined its tactile, process-oriented aspect, and followed this theme into multiple media to explore the ways in which artists construct meaning and personal history by putting together images and objects. This phenomenon manifests outside of art practice in photo albums, quilts, and mending, for example, all ways in which individuals process, record, and repair their own personal experience and history, often through meditative, repetitive activity.

At the time that I met Nina, I was particularly receptive both to the way she used digital media to explore and catalyze human interaction, and to the warmth and emotive power of her sculpture, drawings, and video performances. The way in which tactile, sensual experience and innovative uses of technology embrace each other seamlessly in Nina's work is one of its consistent and particularly powerful characteristics.

The show was called Woman on Earth. I showed photographic sculptures--I'd turned my apartment into a camera (camera obscura) and photographed the skyline outside my window. Then I'd made structures from wood which formally referred to the objects in the photographs (water tower, wall), and reconstructed the photographs on these structures. Nina showed sculptures, a painting, and on twin monitors a pair of video tapes-Before and After-in honor of her daughter Cori. She lost Cori in 1987, at 4 years old, after Cori had tragically acquired HIV from a blood transfusion at birth. The sculptures, in pale pink clay, were parts of Cori's body which Nina had sculpted from memory. Many exploded in the kiln; she'd mended them, and they lay, cracked and disconnected from one another, in a brightly lit case looking much like an archaeological find. The videotapes, like quilts, were stitched-together excerpts from Nina's past work. Before included pieces of video performances which, though done long before Cori was born, bore an ironic prescience to their life together and to Cori's death. For example, in the Baby Chickey series Nina treated a chicken carcass like a baby, bouncing it on her knee, teaching it to walk and talk. [2] After included pieces she'd done in grief.

It was during the show's installation that we discovered how well we worked together. Immediately after Woman on Earth, Nina installed Interactive Brainwave Drawing, a piece she'd initiated in 1974, which interfaces the computer with participants' brainwaves--hard machine with "soft machine"--and which expresses the accessibility of technology, technology as part of us. This is a piece she's continued to update with evolving technologies since its inception; for this show, she used wireless transmitters to send participants' brainwaves to a Macintosh computer. [3] I helped her out by reupholstering the couch, part of the livingroom environment which framed the piece. In the next year, as I learned more about Brainwave Drawing and Nina's other interactive installations, I became convinced that a comprehensive documentary about the work needed to be made. By that time I was a first-year student in the Master of Fine Arts program in Computer Art at the School of Visual Arts, and I saw students approaching interactivity with very limited art-historical context, almost as though it was contingent upon the current tools of desktop multimedia and Macromedia Director. In 1993, I wrote and produced the 30-minute video documentary Nina Sobell: Pioneer in Interactivity.

Nina Sobell: Pioneer in Interactivity

Nina's Master's Thesis in Fine Art at Cornell University in 1971 was one of the first in the country to integrate video in a fine-art context. Titled The Disintegration of Objects Within a Sequential Time Period, she used video to document her sculptures' deconstruction in time and space as a result of participants' undirected interaction with the work. (The pieces eventually fell apart, as people climbed on and rolled around in them.) At the end of a four week period in which each week saw the anonymous appearance of a new piece on campus, she reconstructed the objects in video space and video time in the gallery, and invited those who had played with the pieces to visit the video installation. The deconstruction of each sculpture was represented on one of four video monitors, and a rockable couch in the center of the space conflated structural elements from each of the sculptures. As participants entered the gallery, they entered a space of memory; she used video to create a symbolic representation of their physical experience during the past four weeks. A camera captured their responses and displayed them six seconds later on a monitor positioned in the passage out of the gallery. She used this six-second delay as a metaphor for video's collapse of past into present. Finally, at the gallery's exit, participants passed a closed-circuit camera and monitor, where they saw themselves returned to "now", where temporal and spatial planes intersect in the present moment. From this piece she discovered the extent to which video enabled her to manipulate the relation between time and space, and to create a vortex for human experience, in which the mediated event coincides with public experience, memory, and relationships.

In 1972 she turned the camera on herself in Los Angeles and began to experiment doing performances in private, with a video camera as her only audience. (This practice became the medium of Video Performance, of which Nina was a pioneer.) She was fascinated to observe the way in which the camera altered her behavior-things she would not do in public, she'd do for the camera and then be perfectly comfortable knowing the tape was being seen by thousands.

Through her intimacy with the video medium, she was convinced it could represent thought, communication, and experience. She wanted to close the loop between her experience and her ability to represent that experience using video. She recognized that while video was an electronic medium, so was her brain, in the sense that it emitted measurable electrical frequencies. Rather than just using video to record her (or another's) appearance, she wanted to record the output of their brains. In 1973 she contacted Dr. Barry Sturman, of the Neuropsychology Lab at Sepulveda Veterans' Administration Hospital, who invited her to conduct a series of quantitative tests in his laboratory. The results of these experiments, analyzed by the Hewlett-Packard PDP-11 computer, demonstrated that participants were able to influence one another's brainwave states non-verbally.

In 1975, she installed Interactive Brainwave Drawing: EEG Telemetry Environment at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston. The gallery was divided into public and private space: in the private space, a living room environment, pairs of participants sat together on a couch with electrodes attached to their scalps. Their brainwave output was combined and sent through a computer which transformed it into a circular Lissajous pattern which was displayed on the television set before them. This graphic was superimposed on a real-time closed circuit video portrait of the pair. By objectifying participants on the TV, she engaged their egos in the experience. In the public space, a monitor which displayed this internal/external portrait of participants in real time was flanked by four monitors which showed past participants.

She demystified the technology for all participants, in order that they feel they had control of the technology, rather than it controlling them. She described the data path from their brains to the monitor, and she taught them to operate the half-inch reel-to-reel video recorder, as they were unfamiliar with being able to control what they saw on the television screen. (It was 1975, and a video recorder was not the household item it is today.) She showed them that the pattern on the monitor reflected their correlated brainwave output (the circular pattern distorted when they diverged into separate brainwave states), and they could see whether or not they were influencing one another's brainwaves. It was participants' belief in the power of the technology which enabled them to access their innate ability to communicate non-verbally.

In the following decades, she has continued to update the piece as technology evolves. [4] At the time of this writing, she's using her brainwaves as midi input in a collaborative musical improvisation over the Web, in which she plays electric guitar. Her newly-designed graphics represent the musicians' brainwaves as converging orbs. [5] With the Brainwave Drawing piece she uncovered another facet of video--its capacity for monitoring and catalyzing human interaction--and in 1977 she created an installation called Videophone Voyeur which explored this further. She designed a flow of communications and surveillance through London's ACME Gallery, which gave passers-by the choice to engage in dialogue with her, or to observe this dialogue from the rear of the gallery. She sat at a 45-degree angle to the gallery window, such that participants standing outside the window could only make eye-contact and talk with her by looking into the split-screen monitor before them, and by speaking into a telephone on the window ledge. Here she used technology to sculpt space and thereby facilitate communication--to displace the perceived threat of face-to-face contact with a stranger.

A partition separated the window from the rest of the gallery, such that those who might want to watch the activity in the front window from a more private space within had to watch a split-screen monitor at the rear of the gallery, installed specifically for surveillance. When she repeated the installation at Manchester, a participant asked if he could sit in her seat. She agreed, and the public took over both sides of the installation. She sat at the rear of the gallery playing solitaire and observed as the video and phone became a prop which gave the public permission to communicate with one another. In 1977 Joseph Beuys invited her, as a behavioral artist, to present this piece and Interactive Brainwave Drawings at his Free International University at Documenta 6.

Videophone Voyeur evolved into In and Out the Window, in 1979, which consisted of a parallel configuration of video camera, microphone, and monitor on each side of a storefront window. Pairs of artists interviewed one another through the mediated loop of closed circuit video. Although participants knew their interviews were not being broadcast (and they could have simply spoken to one another through the window), this knowledge was overwhelmed by their perception of the power of technology. The very presence of the cameras and monitors affected their behavior, causing them unconsciously to adopt the formality and seriousness of someone actually on the air. In 1981, Nina created another store-front video installation, this time using custom-programmed pan and tilt heads to sculpt space more formally. Six Moving Cameras/Six Surveillance Views consisted of a tower of three split-screen monitors, flanked by three pairs of synchronously oscillating cameras, erected in the window of Franklin Furnace in New York. Each monitor showed the output of one pair of cameras. Two pairs panned horizontally (the pair closest to the street were equipped with wide-angle lenses), each converging on its center and then diverging, while the third pair panned vertically, diverging to capture street and sky and then converging. Inside the gallery, all six images were montaged onto a single monitor. As the cameras moved, they sculpted space, enfolding the street and passers-by, who became performers in their own video show inside the gallery.

Nina's daughter Cori was born in 1982, and though Nina kept working for a time--she taught electronic imaging in the art department at UCLA and installed Interactive Brainwave Drawing in The Artist and the Computer show at Long Beach Museum of Art in 1983--eventually she had to leave her life behind to try to save her daughter's. It was early in the epidemic, and doctors disagreed about what was wrong with Cori. Nina heard promising reports of a treatment center in New Jersey, and in 1986 she left Los Angeles for New York.

1991: Experiments in Interactive Television

Though Nina produced many drawings, sculptures, and other private work during this time, it was with Exhumed, [6] a performance and video installation in 1990, that she reentered public life with her work. And in 1991, she was invited to be Artist-in-Residence at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. The concepts of interactivity, and of interactive telecommunications, which she'd pioneered in art nearly twenty years earlier, were now canonized in a university department. Technology was starting to catch up with Nina's ideas, and she re-immersed herself immediately, conceiving of novel, constructive applications for interactive television. She'd experienced a terrible isolation, from companionship and information, during her struggle to save Cori's life. And now, just as she'd used video to give strangers permission to talk to one another in Videophone Voyeur, and used the "high-tech hype theater" (as she called it) of the Interactive Brainwave Drawing installation to validate participants' sitting side by side quietly concentrating on being together, now she used the anonymity and asynchronous nature of interactive television to facilitate the public's discussion of difficult issues like AIDS, and death.

She produced and directed Window on AIDS, a live broadcast over Manhattan Cable TV in all five boroughs, in which a panel of medical professionals, social workers, and relatives of people with AIDS answered questions phoned in from the audience. After the broadcast, she transferred the tape to videodisk and designed an interface whereby the audience could use their telephone keypads to access the panelists' responses. They could also use the telephone to record their own questions, answers to which would later be added to the database. What began as a call-in show would become a growing, interactive resource on AIDS, which viewers could access at their convenience, and according to their need. She began research for two other interactive programs, Our Unpreparedness for Dying, Death, and Mourning and The Latch Key Kids' Show. In these cases, too, the programs' aim was to address the need for a public forum for information and discussion of experiences which too often isolate those they affect.

It was around this time that we met, and I was inspired by the social context she brought to her work with interactive telecommunications. I joined her in hiking around Central Park scouting for sites for her next project, which eventually evolved into ParkBench.

The Birth of ParkBench

ParkBench grew out of Nina's idea for a public artwork linking Central Park's two skating rinks: Lasker, at the North end, and Wollman, at the South end. She imagined using networked video to project the shared language of the skaters' dance from each rink to a large screen at the other. With the advent of the digital network, she was able to conceive installations on a larger scale than she had in the 70's, bridging gaps between neighborhoods.

Having conceived of this virtual bridge across Central Park, we began to explore ways to expand the modalities of communication among its participants. While the initial idea had been to create a metaphor of communication with the skaters' dance, the internet was clearly conducive to the creation of an on-line forum much like Nina's interactive television programs. While the internet had its advantages over interactive TV for this purpose (more than one participant could engage the content simultaneously), it had a disadvantage as well: namely, computers and internet access were not nearly as ubiquitous as TV's. Our concern turned to the issue of access. Now we saw ParkBench as a network of kiosks, which through videoconferencing, internet access, and a collaborative drawing space, would enable people in diverse neighborhoods to access the internet, talk to and see one another, and communicate collaboratively and creatively. ParkBench posited Public Art as the public's art.

Next we imagined adding a ParkBench kiosk underground. We thought of the public who rarely partake of the city except to enter it by train each morning, work indoors all day, and retreat again each night. We spoke to the Metropolitan Transit Authority about our idea, and they proposed the Herald Square Station, just opposite the token booth by the PATH trains. ParkBench would bring the city's art, music, and light underground. A videophone at the MTA site would enable commuters to engage with those in the park. In a city where strangers rarely talk to one another on real parkbenches, ParkBench would be a safe place to congregate in cyberspace.

In our studio at CAT, we began to design the kiosk enclosure and the system interface, to experiment with desktop videoconferencing applications, and to scout for additional kiosk sites. It was critical for us that the kiosk accommodate several participants, in order that ParkBench be a gathering place in physical space as well as cyberspace; and that it be both child and wheelchair-accessible. In the summer of 1994, the Web was still nascent, and we explored various other options for networking the system and building its interface. In particular, we explored Pad, NYU Media Research Lab Director Ken Perlin's zooming interface, which seemed a perfect way to enable participants to explore the city. Meanwhile, we used Director to prototype an interface which integrated videoconferencing, collaborative drawing, and local neighborhood information services. We applied for funding from various sources. And then the Web took off, and Richard Wallace, a professor of robotics at CAT, put up one of the first Webcams.

1994: ArTisTheater--First Performances on the Web

It was a telerobotic video camera called LabCam, literally a robotic eye which Wallace connected to the Web such that Web clients could see an image of the lab in their browsers, and by clicking on that image could aim the camera and request the next image. With an eye to exploring the potential of Web video as an expressive, communicative, and collaborative medium for the kiosk, we transformed our studio into a public art work on the Web. Web visitors had 24-hour access, through the eye of the camera, to watch us work and perform in our studio. Nina had used video to give public access to private experience with her Video Performances in the 70's. But the Web added a powerful element: audiences could see into our studio in real time, so our actions were heightened by our awareness of unseen Web voyeurs.

For our first Web performance, in November, 1994--to the best of our knowledge the first performance art in the history of the Web--Nina built up a figure in clay, and at the end of the half hour she tore it from its armature. [7] I lit the scene and positioned the camera, and set up a directory in our UNIX account which automatically archived the images as they were served to Web clients (our audience). After the performance was over, I created a Web page which contained this archive. Gradually our studio filled up with sculptures, armatures, sculpting tools, fabric, paper, drawing materials, backdrops, cameras, and lighting equipment, along with the Sun workstation, framegrabber, telerobotic camera, Macintosh computers, and video mixer. The ParkBench philosophy, stressing community access, experimentation, and creativity on the net, found its home on the Web, and our Monday Night Performance Series evolved into ArTisTheater-live weekly performances, and a growing archive of past performances.

For the first year or so, viewers clicked on the current image in order to control the direction of the camera and to request the next frame. The images were black-and-white. Eventually, we adopted server-push technology (wherein images are pushed to the browser, at a rate of about one frame every four seconds), and acquired a color camera. Every ArTisTheater performance was a collaboration, in which only active participants were allowed in the studio-the audience could watch from the Web only. Performances were process-oriented and experimental, often involving the creation of sculptures and drawings which then existed only as artifacts of the performance. In the spirit of ParkBench, we often invited guest artists to perform. The archive, now with over 80 performances, includes the first performative Webcasts of guests including the Gertrude Stein Repertory Theater, students from the Lexington School for the Deaf, Annie Ballard, Bill Burns, Cathy Busby, Marta Chilindron, Alien Comic, Andy Davy, Fern Gnesin, Athomas Goldberg and Otto, Andruid Kerne and Melissa Lang, Margot Lovejoy, David Medalla, Prema Murthy, Cynthia Pannucci, Greta Peterman, Reverend Billy, Steven Schmerfeld, Eliza Schwarz, Martha Wilson, and Adrianne Wortzel.

VirtuAlice: Interfacing Physical Space and Cyberspace

In 1995, we became intrigued by the idea of creating a mobile ParkBench kiosk. Furthermore, our experience with ArTisTheater, in which private space became public through Web video surveillance, piqued our interest in the relation between cyberspace and physical space. Thus, in collaboration with programmers and electrical engineers at CAT, we produced VirtuAlice, a wireless vehicle equipped with a telerobotic video camera controlled by Web voyeurs.

VirtuAlice was first shown in CODE, at Ricco/Maresca Gallery, in 1995. The installation, called Alice Sat Here, consisted of Alice's wheeled throne, a monitor inside the gallery, and a monitor in the gallery's front window. Visitors drove around the gallery on Alice's wheeled throne, and the direction of a telerobotic video camera mounted on the throne was controlled by participants over the Web. Virtual and physical participants made eye contact through the rear-view mirror. A monitor on the throne's handlebars showed the driver the direction of the Web visitor's interest; the throne's driver acted as chauffeur for the Web visitor. VirtuAlice is an expression of the process which is the world we live in-physically out-of-control, yet remotely controlled.

Passers-by could control the camera with touchpads in the front window, which surrounded a monitor showing what Alice saw. Meanwhile, a tiny camera captured their image, mixed it with Alice's image, and displayed it on the monitor inside the gallery and also on the Web. VirtuAlice created an interface between participants on both sides of the glass: inside, outside, and in cyberspace. Alice's memories are stored on disk as digital archives.

VirtuAlice is the vehicle for a shared experience, whereby participants collaborate in transferring that experience into meaning, into history.

The Web Enters the Gallery

Our Web work found its way into physical gallery environments, which raised questions about the relationship of Web time to real time. As "Time Curators" for X-Art Foundation's Blast5 drama (1996-7 at Sandra Gering Gallery), we designed a Web/video installation which spanned physical and cyberspace, past and present. Blast5 drama was a collaborative Web artwork interwoven of scripts and narratives by multiple authors. Artists performed excerpts of the text on-stage in the gallery. We installed a surveillance camera opposite the stage, which recorded gallery activity every day. The following day, this tape was Webcast from our studio. In the rear of the gallery, a Web client projected this image of yesterday onto the wall, where gallery visitors viewed it, and also intervened in front of the projection. A camera opposite the projection gathered this activity and re-projected it onto a large screen which was the backdrop to the stage. [8]

As pioneers of time-based Web art, we inspired the conception of PORT, a group show of time-based Web works organized by ArtNetWeb in 1997. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's List Gallery, four screens six feet wide hung from the ceiling, and onto each was projected a Web page. For two hours each Saturday afternoon for eight weeks we covered the screens with images from our studio. One image stream was live, and we projected archived performances from the series onto the other screens. As the weeks wore on, the projections became more densely layered, as we mixed past archives with live Webcasts. The images enhanced one another, since they all related to the theme of Touch. This was our artist statement for the piece:

"The camera moves from our eyes to our mouths to our hands to the work, as Nina sculpts Emily drawing Nina. The female gaze is perceived as observation in the artmaking process. The cameras establish a rhythm with their movement; they record the physical process of perception and representation. Eyes move to observe and record, mouths move involuntarily, hands move to coax form out of media, and the work records the materialization of the process. Through observing one another we discover ourselves, and as the piece progresses each artist appears on the opposite screen, in the hands of the other. The process is heightened by our awareness of unseen Web voyeurs, who observe us remotely."

In October 1998 we printed out a number of the images from these performances, and created a montage installation for New Image Art Gallery in LA. We transferred one of the performances to video, and it played in the gallery alongside the prints, showing the flow and playing the music as seen and heard on the Web.

Music on ParkBench

It was through the PORT show that we met Jesse Gilbert, a musician and digital audio specialist, who was inspired to add music to our work. He began to perform with ParkBench midway through the PORT show. By watching the tape of me drawing her, Nina had created an audio track to accompany what had been a silent performance: she played the charcoal on paper like an expressive percussion instrument. The first time he visited our studio Jesse brought his saxophone, and he added improvised sax to Nina's lively percussive charcoal jam. Each performance since then has included improvisational music. [9]

Late in 1997 we were invited to attend the RAT (Reseaux Art Technologies) conference at CYPRES (Centre Interculturel de Pratiques Recherches et Echanges Transdisciplinaires), in Aix-en-Provence, whose theme was on-line collaboration. Jesse attended as a member of ParkBench, and orchestrated a live performance, Dance in a Moving Mirror. Nina and I performed from our studio in New York. Nina played synthesizer, improvising in collaboration with the sounds (found sounds, short-wave radio) which Jesse was mixing in, from Aix. I received video images (one every six seconds) through my browser from participants in Aix, and I mixed them with my own live improvised video.

I captured the reflection of the monitor, on which I was watching the image from Aix, on the surface of my eye by holding the camera very close. When I blinked, the camera lost focus and my eye became a dark orb which looked like a cell dividing. The images represented the interface of human eye and computer display, which was also the human interface of this transatlantic collaboration with artists we'd never met. [10] The uncontrolled element of network delay functioned as the acoustics of the Web space in which we performed: each performer saw and heard a slightly different version of the whole. The piece was an attempt to merge these multiple perceptions into a unified whole which existed both in Web-space and on the screens of its viewers. The archive was an artifact of this process, and exists as a work on its own.

As this book goes to press, Nina, Jesse, and I have been invited to be artists-in-residence at Banff Centre for the Arts in October 1998, where we will work on VirtuAlice. We plan to add a wireless microphone, which will transmit to a server so that Web participants can hear sound from the vehicle. We are also working to get the video digitization and camera control systems running on an on-board laptop. Then, using a wireless, digital communication system, Alice will be free to roam, reliant only on her batteries. At that point, VirtuAlice will truly be the mobile ParkBench kiosk.


numbered in text
1) Having spent the summer of 1991 drawing and painting at the academic New York Studio School, I discovered that my interest is in time-based media, specifically the interactions among photographic images. I began an investigation of photographic Artists' Books at Franklin Furnace Archive and Granary Books Gallery, where director Steve Clay invited me to curate shows.
2) The Baby Chickey Video Performance series, all completed in 1981, includes Chicken on Foot, Hey! Baby Chickey!, and Into the Pot You Go! exhibition history:
Language and Disorder, New Langton Arts, San Francisco, 1996
Sampler, LA Video Work 1970-1993, David Zwirner Gallery, NYC, 1993
At Home, Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, Ca, 1983
Some Humorous Video, Space Gallery, LA, 1983
Infermental International, Germany, 1982-3
Berlin Film Festival, Berlin, 1982

Baby Chickey Live Performances:
Baby For You, Chickey: Exile Gallery, LA, 1982
Hobby Horses in Paradise, (performance/video installation), LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibition Space), 1982
Baby Chickey Rides Again, Metropolis Gallery, LA, 1982
3) Nina has used the IBVA (Interactive Brainwave Visual Analyzer) system, engineered by Masahiro Kahata, in her Brainwave Drawing installations since 1992.
4) Interactive Brainwave Drawing Exhibition History:
Ebb and Flow interactive Web performance,, 1998
Bronx River Arts Gallery, 1992
A Delicate Balance: Technics, Culture, and Consequences, California State University, Los Angeles, 1989
The Artist and The Computer, Long Beach Museum of Art, 1983
Gulf Coast, East Coast, West Coast, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, 1975
5) In 1998 ParkBench received a commission from to do a series of Web performances, in which musicians' brainwaves are converted to graphics and to midi signals, which become part of the live improvised musical performance.
6) Exhumed was performed at DCTV (Downtown Community Television), NYC, 1990.
7) Writer Robert Atkins was present at our first Web performance (though he was not allowed in the studio--he watched it from a browser nearby), and he wrote about it in "Art On Line," Art in America, Vol. 83, No. 12, 64 (December, 1995).
8) The first time Franklin Furnace performances happened live on the Web was when we invited Martha Wilson to select a group of artists to do weekly performances on the Blast stage (Blast 5, Sandra Gering Gallery, NYC, 1996-7), which we streamed on the Web and archived. Martha's own first experience doing a live Web performance was also in ParkBench's ArTisTheater, in 1996.
9) Nina contributed improvised music (electric guitar, synthesizer), and I contributed live, improvised video to numerous performances of Adrift, a collaborative Web artwork which incorporated VRML, text, music, and video, all performed live from different locations. The piece, which premiered at Ars Electronica in 1997, was conceived and coordinated by Jesse, Helen Thorington, and Marek Walzcak.
10) I showed a grid of 30"x40" prints of the in-and-out-of-focus eyes from the Dance performance in a two-person show with Nina at David Medalla's DAAD studio in Berlin in 1998.


Robert Atkins, "Art On Line," Art in America, Vol. 83, No. 12, 64 (December, 1995).
C. Carr, "On Edge: The Heart of the Web," Village Voice, Vol. 42, No. 25, p. 50, (June 24, 1997).
P. Green, "ParkBench," Interview on KXLU, Loyola Marymount University, (June 1997).
Doug Grunther, "ParkBench," interview on WDST Woodstock Radio, October 1996.
Betty Kevlis, Naked to the Bone: Medical Imaging in the 20th. Century (Rutgers University Press, 1997).
Margot Lovejoy, Postmodern Currents: Art and Artists in the Age of Electronic Media (Prentice Hall, 1996) second edition.
musEleanor, "BLAST5DRAMA: ART: IS IT STRANGER THAN DICTION?," Intelligent Agent , (Jan. 1997).
Kimberly Neuhaus, "Technology: Do You Mind If I Sit Here?" I. D. Vol. 42, No. 2, 24 (March-April, 1995).
Kevin Smith, "ParkBench Sculpting Performances," The Acid-free Paper, Vol. 1, No. 4 (January, 1996).
Sobell and Hartzell, "The Buzz," TalkBack! edited by Robert Atkins. Issue #1 (December, 1995).
Sobell and Hartzell, "ParkBench," Felix: Landscape(s) Vol. 2, No. 1, 302-305 (1995).
Sobell and Hartzell, "ParkBench Public-Access Web Kiosks," Visual Proceedings, The Art and Interdisciplinary Programs of Siggraph 96, 135, (1996).


Cynthia Allen, Sonya Allin, David Bacon, Annie Ballard, Anne Bean, Eric Breitbard, Cathy Busby, Clilly Castiglia, Albert Cheung, Steve Clay of Granary Books Gallery, Allison Druin, Mark Evenson, Jesse Gilbert, Christopher Graham of Power and Light, Roel Hammerschlag, Fred Hansen, Chere Jalali, Art Johnson, Masahiro Kahata of IBVA, Professor Tina Keane, Sabrina Liao, Margot Lovejoy, Cory Muldoon, Hai Ng, Juey Ong, Brad Paley, Toto Paxia, Professor Ken Perlin, Daniele Russo, Professor Jack Schwartz, Eliza Schwarz, Vlad Sumarokov, Professor Naoko Tanese, and Professor Richard Wallace; Digital Image Design Incorporated, MicroTouch Corporation, NYU Center for Advanced Technology, and NYU Media Research Lab.


server-push--method of streaming a series of images from Web server to Web client; requires no plug-ins
streaming--sending video or audio via the Web such that it does not need to be downloaded before playing
Webcast--to transmit a time-based performance of some kind, audio and/or video, via the Web
telerobotic--describes a device which is interfaced with a Web server, receives motion controls from Web clients via their browsers