XXIII: Gathering (in the) Cloud. Digital Performance Beyond Zoom (with Kent Bye, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Sarah Rothberg & Florian Malzacher)

The pandemic introduced virtual gatherings into many people’s lives. Team meetings, activist assemblies, even theater performances were now attended from kitchen chairs, sofas, and beds. Both activists and performance makers (usually strong believers in the need for bodily presence) resorted to screens–and if only because there was no choice. Where are we now and what comes after Zoom? Is the metaverse more than a promise or threat? In this edition of the Art of Assembly we look at how performing arts are approaching digital realms. Journalist Kent Bye, who hosted hundreds of game developers, academics, creatives, and enthusiasts in the VR and AR fields on his podcast “Voices of VR,” offers a brief overview of virtual gatherings in art and activism. Jaamil Olawale Kosoko speaks about their virtual performance suite Chameleon: The Living Installments, exploring the fugitive realities of living at the intersection of digitality, Blackness and queerness. Sarah Rothberg introduces her playful VR/AR experiences and talks about the intersection of interactivity and performance.