Midi Onodera

Gently Down the Stream (2020)

On one of my recent strolls around the internet garden, I found myself staring at a video feed from Amarillo Texas. Specifically, the Big Texan 72 oz Live Stream.

The camera was positioned close to the ceiling pointing down on an empty table set with five brightly coloured plastic boot glasses resting on paper placemats. As the occasional restaurant patron or waitstaff ambled past the table, the background displayed a busy kitchen complete with a cowboy hat wearing chef at the open grill. I was mesmerized. This was not TV, measured entertainment. As I watched another hunk of steak flop down on the fiery grill, I felt I was intruding. This is the world of live steaming video.

Part surveillance, part advertisement, unintentional amusement, this realm of streaming video is providing an endless reality feed to our screens, anytime, anywhere. Increasingly our lives are dominated by screens – but I’m not talking about the TV screens of my youth, but rather the screens that bounce back moments of unscripted life. Cameras hovering at street intersections, beachfront resorts, bars and kitty adoption centres. Viewing experiences that were once distant televised stories have now become entwined with our lived realities, altering our sense of time and space. We are no longer silent observers, but we have found different communal space, chat rooms hugging the sides of web screens. Personal exchanges in public spaces. So, for 2020, my year-long project, “Gently down the stream” will attempt to make sense of this growing phenomena.

Big Blue Marble

Tang. That was the drink of the astronauts. If you wanted to make your mark in the future, you drank Tang just like them. Apollo 11 made history on July 20, 1969 with the momentous walk on the moon by Neil Armstrong.

She recalls she had been bike riding with a friend in the morning, a bright, sunny, cloudless day. It was lunchtime and time for the Flintstones. Two of her favorite things. A bowl of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and a cheese sandwich made with white bread. Her mother insisted she watch the moon walk instead of her usual cartoon fair. Disappointment turned into disbelief. How could a man walk on the moon? Was this true? Was this just on TV or was this really taking place on the moon?

Years later, she discovered that the walk on the moon had been televised at night and not during the day as she remembered. How much more did she get wrong about her past? Could she ever really trust her memory or was it simply a rerun?

Posted January 1, 2020

HUSH HUSH

If it’s a weekday, around 3pm, EST, I’m here. In the chatroom that is. I was a long-time lurker before I joined in and by that time, I  just knew everyone – the regulars, that is, so I just fit in. You know, the live stream is like a campfire. We all huddle around it, but it’s not the main reason we’re here. It’s about sharing our stories, well, more like things on our mind, things we might not even mention to people in RL.

I’m really not sure what happened that day. I was busy at work and couldn’t log on at my regular time. When I popped in 15 minutes late, I saw it. “Chat is disabled for this live stream.” I couldn’t believe it. We had been meeting for almost three months now and suddenly everyone was gone. I kept reloading my page and tried different browsers. I checked out the other Samui webcams, but they were all disabled too. Gone. Everyone was gone. We had been silenced! I’m still looking for my friends. I’m hopeful we’ll meet again soon.

Posted February 1, 2020