Click Piece

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Above, video of Yoko Ono's original performance of 'Cut Piece' at Carnegie Hall in 1965. The original performance took place in 1964 in Japan.

Original - Cut Piece

In 'Cut Piece,' Ono invited audience members to approach her on the stage and cut pieces from her dress. In fact, she defined the work with a single word - 'Cut' - and the rest of the performance as it happened unfolded without further explicit instruction to the audience. The performance leads ultimately to Ono's exposure and semi-nakedness, and opens up the possibility of violence and harm and suffering to the artist. The piece aims at exposing a need for social unity and co-operation in order to produce the destruction of the boundary of clothing, rather than harm to the artist's body through violence - physical or social. The piece plays with gender, because it features the artist's gendered body in a state of potential and real nudity, and because it invites male and female audience members into a fraught power position with that body. The piece was performed as recently as 2003 by Ono.

Update - Click Piece

In 'Click Piece,' the instruction to 'Click' takes the place of the original 'Cut,' and the fabric of the web takes the place of the artist's apparel. The difference between cutting fabric off a body and using a web browser to manipulate a website is that we've become familiar with using a browser as a solitary activity - there are no such familiar norms for cutting fabric from a body. Thus, the performance is executed by one audience volunteer, rather than many using the same computer, which would distract from the piece by introducing a counterintuitive and frustrating way of viewing the work. The piece can also be viewed by individuals on their own computers, introducing a new formulation of the 'audience' in the context of the web.

However, the potential consequences of the piece - social violence and the discomfort invoked by the private gendered body - remain constant. The top frame of the web document loaded for audience interaction is the artist's Facebook page but, as Yoko's apparel was layered, with white undergarments under a black dress, there are multiple layers of web material below the initial frame. As the user clicks into the document, the layers give way, revealing a composition of private identity that goes beyond the physical body, and reaches into adolescence, childhood,personal achievement and, indeed, the gendered body. Ultimately, as the erasure of each frame reveals the final pane, the audience participant finds himself or herself seemingly in a position to alter the identity that was formerly only gradually exposed through the experience.

As the piece evokes the same social discomfort and potential for harm, it may also evoke a need for social unity. However, as the medium shifts, does the message also? What is the meaning of social unity in the context of social media? The aesthetic of 'Click Piece' is messy and mismatched and almost diametrically opposed to the aesthetic of 'Cut Piece,' which is also a reflection on web documents as a medium.

Click Piece is here.
You must begin the experience by clicking on the Facebook logo in the upper left. Click and scroll from there.







Screencaps from 'Click Piece'

Method:

The document is actually composed of a group of window-sized iframes (whole webpages that can be embedded in other web documents) stacked on top of each other. The HTML content of the iframes was pulled from the various websites the piece emulates, linked to styling code and edited appropriately, and linked to a JavaScript document that essentially attaches an erasure behavior to each html element when clicked. The user may manipulate and scroll within one iframe at a time - as the experience progresses, the iframes fall through and the user is able to click and explore each level in turn.

Known issue: because iframes need to be secure, they cannot communicate via script with their containing document, and their containing document cannot communicate with them. This poses the issue that the disappearance of an iframe, which is necessary for the user to manipulate the iframes below, cannot be contingent on the number of clicks or elements removed. Only the root DOM can eliminate iframes, and it cannot know about their state. Thus, the disappearance of an iframe and corresponding drop to the next level is a function of time. This is artistically and intuitively inappropriate, but it appears to be a sad necessity of the material.

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