Friday, September 27th, 10:00AM
Friday, September 27th, 7:30PM
Saturday, September 28th, 7:30PM
The Southern Theater
1420 S. Washington Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55454
General Admission $18 Advance | $22 at the door
Students/Seniors $12 | Student Groups $10
Groups (10 or more) $16
Learn more here!
About the Show
What is Internet Addiction?
Is it a Real Disorder?
Conversation with the Artist/Director
ABOUT THE SHOW
#//<EMBEDDED>//# is a multimedia piece of devised theatre which combines Film Projection, GIF Animation, Prezi Presentation and Physical Theatre.
It explores the interplay between the 3 dimensional space of the stage and the 2 dimensional space of the screen. It examines two sides of the same character living simultaneously and parallely in two different worlds - The Real World (seen as video projection) and The Virtual World (on stage); The conflict between his real world identity and how the virtual world sees him; His search for home in both worlds: A place where he can have real connection/inclusion/belongingness, coupled with his inability to disconnect himself from the clutches of all the virtual/imposed identities that control, dictate, impose upon him his sense of self: who he is, where he belongs, what he can or can not do.
#//<EMBEDDED>//# draws parallels between The Skinner Box Experiment -An experiment conducted in early 1930's by B.F Skinner which involved the use of an operant conditioning chamber created to analyze and control the response behaviour of rats to a particular event using electrical impulses as stimulus - with social media algorithms that employ similar tactics of instant gratification and operant conditioning to create desired responses that manipulate, regulate and build a false sense of identity and self worth. It also examines the condition of “Internet Addiction” - A rapidly growing phenomenon that widely affects teens and young adults in the USA and across the world, It has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a mental health condition. In countries like China and Korea Internet Addiction severely affects more than 60% of the teens and is identified as a National Health Problem.
#//<EMBEDDED>//# uses this frame work of Social Media, The Skinner box Experiment and Internet Addiction and as theatrical metaphor to examine the condition of a trapped virtual identity desperately seeking real connection and inclusion but is stuck within the regulating algorithms of a social media platform, floating inside a broadcasting room somewhere in the interwebs of cyber space and time - A world from which it is impossible to disconnect and a world in which all connection and communication happens only via a digital “WALL”. A digital "WALL" that is representative of all the different WALL’S of race, color, class, gender, religion, nationality etc - that are systematically built and imposed upon us that divide, separate, exclude, regulate and restrict us from real connection and access to our selves and each other.
WHAT IS INTERNET ADDICTION?
Internet addiction is described as an impulse control disorder, which does not involve use of an intoxicating drug and is very similar to pathological gambling. Some Internet users may develop an emotional attachment to on-line friends and activities they create on their computer screens. Internet users may enjoy aspects of the Internet that allow them to meet, socialize, and exchange ideas through the use of chat rooms, social networking websites, or "virtual communities." Other Internet users spend endless hours researching topics of interest Online or "blogging". Blogging is a contraction of the term "Web log", in which an individual will post commentaries and keep regular chronicle of events. It can be viewed as journaling and the entries are primarily textual.
Similar to other addictions, those suffering from Internet addiction use the virtual fantasy world to connect with real people through the Internet, as a substitution for real-life human connection, which they are unable to achieve normally.
IS IT A REAL DISORDER?
Medical experts have begun taking internet addiction more seriously.
Neither the World Health Organization (WHO) nor the American Psychiatric Association recognize internet addiction as a disorder. Last year, however, the WHO recognized the more specific Gaming Disorder following years of research in China, South Korea and Taiwan, where doctors have called it a public health crisis.
Some online games and console manufacturers have advised gamers against playing to excess. YouTube has created a time monitoring tool to nudge viewers to take breaks from their screens as part of its parent company Google’s “digital wellbeing” initiative.
WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said internet addiction is the subject of “intensive research” and consideration for future classification. The American Psychiatric Association has labeled gaming disorder a “condition for further study.”
“Whether it’s classified or not, people are presenting with these problems,” Tuell said.
Tuell recalled one person whose addiction was so severe that the patient would defecate on himself rather than leave his electronics to use the bathroom.
Research on internet addiction may soon produce empirical results to meet medical classification standards, Tuell said, as psychologists have found evidence of a brain adaptation in teens who compulsively play games and use the internet.
“It’s not a choice, it’s an actual disorder and a disease,” said Danny. “People who joke about it not being serious enough to be super official, it hurts me personally.”
Social Media's Effect on Self Esteem (Huffington Post)
CONVERSATION WITH THE CREATOR/DIRECTOR
(Interview published by City On A Hill Newspaper, Santa Cruz, CA on Feb 1, 2019 - Unedited Version)
1. How does Embedded deal with complex understandings of identity (of presentation to the external world, but also identity as is informed by race, politics, and/or gender)?
Embedded essentially seeks to invoke a revolt against all identities that trap/confine us. It is an introspection on notions of identity and image, reality and perception, a conflict between who we are and what we present/project of ourselves and that includes the way we chose to present ourselves (or be identified as), the identities that we put on because thats what is expected of us societally, and the identities that are imposed upon us systematically and race, color, politics, gender, nationality are all a part of all of that.
In Embedded the protagonist is an outcast, a weirdo, a nerd, someone who is societally rejected. In his attempt to seek connection/acceptance he begins to build/program a virtual social media identity of himself and via him starts making youtube video's inorder to connect with the virtual audience and seeks that acceptance/validation/belongingness via this virtual mask in the virtual world. The two identities then begin to talk to each other. This premise cracks open the opportunity for the audience to follow and simultaneously examine the journey of how one builds identity in the first place, which consequently leads to - on a meta level - questions like: How does one define their identity? where does one derive it from? can identity become an entrapment/a confining/ an act of separating one's self from another? How can "I am __" exist without defining that which "I am not __". So then, how can Identity and inclusion exist simultaneously? What is identity anyways - Something that one is born with? Something one cultivates? A chosen persona? Adefining of one's territory? An acquiring of a mask? or is there something deeper that we can all collectively identify and connect with on a human level.
2. How does technology intersect with ideas of identity in the modern day? Historically?
Most of our interactions today happen via a digital screen, a digital wall. A wall that separates us from having a real connection not only with one another but also with ourselves. While a madman somewhere is wanting to build a wall, this is a wall on which we are constantly building versions of ourselves that we want the world to see us as, versions of ourselves that are more and more distant from whom we really are and these virtual identities are being virtually validated and the walls being virtually reinforced. There is also this imposed underlying demand to constantly market and position ourselves, as something or someone, to fit into a prescribed category, wether its gender identity, religious beliefs , national identity or sexuality. Are you a he or a she? are you a hindu or a muslim? Christian or Jew? Indian or American?. Anything that exists beyond this world of binaries is a threat and is rejected. These categories then get reinforced by fear, fear that the other group will destroy your identity if you don't protect/defend/retaliate. A fear that keeps us from actually reaching out and engaging with each other beyond the confinements of our acquired masks. And digital technology foundationaly works in Binaries. In 0's and 1's. So I feel like there is an inherent problem there. There are highly sophisticated Algorithms constantly at work trying to categorize every click, every choice, every post you like so that it can slot, categorize, predict and ultimately influence your behaviour. I believe that there is great mystery in human beings and human behavior. In the unpredictability resides the beauty of it and is what makes us humans. I think that all this historically stems from a consumerist and capitalist mindset. It is easier to control individuals that identify with and can be divided in categories. I feel like the consumerist and capitalist society that we live in plays a trick on us by taking our need for real connection and inclusion and misdirecting this need so that we begin to look for that sense of connection and belonging in either hollow materialism or prescriptive identity brands - political brands, religious brands, national brands, cast brands, phone brands, laptop brands etc, instead of deriving that self worth out of out of ethical, moral and human values and seeking that connection and belonging in real human relationships, in each other, with each other - a connection that we are so desperately seeking - we begin to derive our self worth and status based on devoted affiliation to one or more of these prescriptive identity brands and in a more corporate set up that would be: the amount of money we make, the step of that vertical ladder we stand on, the position of power we hold. The end result of such a system leads to a world with a whole lot of economically ambitious, career driven, individualistic, self focused, self centered, self consumed, territorial individuals with no real sense of shared belonging with another person, space, value set or community. When our sense of self worth and societal value’s get misplaced in such a manner, this I believe is an inevitable outcome of that. It is no surprise to me that it is becoming increasingly difficult and uncomfortable for us to share real time, space and resources with other humans and increasingly comfortable to spend hours and hours of virtual time in digital space.
3. Where did the idea come from to write this play? Did it come about from a specific "aha" moment or concrete occurrence?
I wore a stage wig and some fake teeth and came up with a character that I really enjoyed playing, he lived in a very performative world, so I thought wouldn't it be fun to see him make ridiculous and outrageous youtube videos. As I went deeper into that exploration I became interested in knowing who he would be when he is not performing, when the camera is off, when he is offline and disconnected from his virtual audience. And that was the crack from which the light entered. That lead to the whole multimedia integration and interaction with one’s own self on a video. Also, I live outside a culture that I was raised in. So maybe that factors in somewhere but ultimately for this show the medium (multimedia) is most definitely a big part of the message.
4. How does your understanding of your own identity come through in Embedded's production?
As a brown skinned, East Indian, Mumbai born artist who now works in the United States as a Non-Resident Alien - as described on my Visa and identity card - what is my identity in this place? what do these labels even mean? How do they even matter? But they do, they matter, definitely at immigrations. Of lately I have had this almost revolting feeling against anything and everything that tries to confine, define, label or #tag me. I feel exhausted by the demand to constantly define myself as "I am this" or " I am that", I just want to be. Just "I am", and nothing beyond the "I am", No tag line attached.
Hashtag (#) - A type of metadata tag used on social networks such as Twitter and other microblogging services, allowing users to apply dynamic, user-generated tagging which makes it possible for others to easily find messages with a specific theme or content.
Facebook Wall - The area on a profile or page where friends and “fans” can post their thoughts, views, or criticisms for everyone to see.
Buzz - An atmosphere of excitement and activity; Also a term used to describe an an electric shock.
Virtual Glasses - Virtual reality glasses or goggles are a type of eyewear which functions as a display device. They enable the wearer to view a series of computer generated images which they can then interact with.
Status Update - A Facebook status is an update feature which allows users to discuss their thoughts, whereabouts, or important information with their friends. Similar to a tweet on the social networking site Twitter, a status is usually short and generally gives information without going into too much detail.
SoundCloud - SoundCloud is an online audio distribution platform and music sharing website based in Berlin, Germany that enables its users to upload, promote, and share audio.
Soundsnap - Soundsnap is a professional online sound library, featuring high-quality sound effects and loops from professional sound designers and cutting edge music producers.
GIFs - An animated gif is like a digital flip book. It is an image that's been encoded using the graphics interchange format where it has multiple frames encoded into a single image file and a web browser or other software will play those images back in animated sequence automatically.
YouTube - An open source video sharing website.
YouTube King - A person who has the highest number of followers/subscribers/likes for their youtube channel
Facebook - An American online social media and social networking service company
Instagram - A photo and video-sharing social networking service owned by Facebook, Inc.
Hits - A slang term used in online marketing which means the number of unique visitors, visits, page views, likes or all of the above.
Bluetooth - Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data between fixed and mobile devices over short distances using short-wavelength UHF radio waves.
Sync - Abbreviated term for synchronize. When you "sync" a device, such as a cell phone, PDA, or iPod, you synchronize it with data on your computer. This is typically done by connecting the device to your computer via a USB or wireless Bluetooth connection.When you sync a device with your computer, it typically updates both device and the computer with the most recent information. This is also referred to as "merging" the data.
Algorithm - An algorithm (pronounced AL-go-rith-um) is a procedure or formula for solving a problem, based on conducting a sequence of specified actions. A computer program can be viewed as an elaborate algorithm. In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm usually means a small procedure that solves a recurrent problem.
Ice Bucket Challenge - Sometimes called the "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge," is an activity involving the dumping of a bucket of ice and water over a person's head, either by another person or self-administered, to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as motor neuron disease and in the US as Lou Gehrig's disease) and encourage donations to research. It went viral on social media during July–August 2014. In the US, many people participated for the ALS Association, and in the UK, many people participated for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, although some individuals opted to donate their money from the Ice Bucket Challenge to other organizations. The challenge encourages nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and then nominating others to do the same. A common stipulation is that nominated participants have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation.
Going Viral - an image, video, link, tweet or other social media post that spreads rapidly through a population by being frequently shared with a significant number of individuals.
Apps - A mobile application (mobile app) is a computer program or software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a phone/tablet or watch. Apps were originally intended for productivity assistance such as Email, calendar, and contact databases, but the public demand for apps caused rapid expansion into other areas such as mobile games, factory automation, GPS and location-based services, order-tracking, and ticket purchases, so that there are now millions of apps available.
omg = oh my god
lol = laugh out loud
wth = what the hell
rofl = rolling on floor laughing
lmao = laughing my ass off
ttyl = talk to you later
imho = in my humble opinion
idk = i don't know
idc = i don't care
idr = i don't remember
jk = just kidding
r = are
u = you
2 = too
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Its categorized as a wave of tingling sensations that starts at the top of your head and roll through your entire body due to auditory or visual stimulation. The things that cause ASMR are known in the community as “Triggers” – not to be confused with the negative use of the word where events or words provoke traumatic responses. These ASMR triggers are wanted and yield a positive response. A trigger can be anything from whispering/soft speaking to tapping or crinkling and even personal attention like one would find at the doctors during a check-up. There are literally thousands of successful channels mainly because the market is self sustaining – those who make the videos also watch them, thus, there’s always the need for more. Some don’t experience ASMR and if you try to explain it to them, you will be left at a loss for words because they just won’t get it. The largest channel in the genre is “GentleWhispering” with 830,000+ subscribers and it has accumulated over 270,000,000 total video views. GW has an estimated annual earnings of $30,000 to $500,000.
Unboxing is the unpacking of products, especially high tech consumer products, where the process is captured on video and uploaded to the Internet. The item is then also explained in detail and also can sometimes be demonstrated as well.
Early unboxing videos focused mainly either on gadgets or fashion items. However, once the trend took off, unboxing videos were available for, as Yahoo's Deb Amien put it, "nearly every thing that is available for purchase." By 2014 the popularity of the videos were such that some companies had been known to upload unboxing videos for their own products, whilst others sent products to uploaders for free.
Mukbang is an internet fad that finds viewers watching mukbangers binge eating copious amounts of food. This strange trend began in Korea in 2011. The term "mukbang" comes from a mix of two Korean words, "muk-ja" (eating) and "bang-song" (broadcasting). The most popular mukbang stars (also called 'BJs' for broadcast Jockeys) eat messy foods as they loudly slurp, chomp and display bad table manners.
"reSTART Life" internet addiction program in Fall City, Washington
Internet addiction center opens in US (Nicholas K Geranios, Associated Press, 2009)
Inside the rehab saving young men from their internet addiction (The Guardian, 2017)