Hole in Space…No space in time

Galloway and Rabinowitz, Hole in Space, 1980.

November 1980, a public communication Sculpture was constructed by Galloway and Rabinowitz named ‘Hole in Space’[1]. One sculpture set in New York and one in Los Angeles, television like images were projected onto glass connected via a satellite feed allowing the public to not only see each other but also talk and hear each other as if there were both in the same place and not miles apart. ‘The first evening was about discovery; the second evening was populated by word-of-mouth and long distance telephone calls – that evening television news put the word out in both cities; the third evening was a mass televisual convergence of family’s members and trans-continental lovers; some family members had not seen each other in decades.’ [2]

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This was the beginning of a revolution, a revolution that many people were initially confused about. When watchingExcerpts from A Hole in Space — the mother of all video chats’ [3], We see the reactions of people in NYC and LA with the idea that the projected image was just that, an image. Until the people in the image decided to speak, followed by an uproar of people laughing and smiling, realizing that the people there were talking to were in fact in NYC/LA. The barrier of distance within communication now dissolved due to the revolutionary ‘Hole in space,’ similar to our version of Skype and Facetime today.

Galloway and Rabinowitz’s main aim for the sculpture was to show that ‘size and bandwidth matter[4] when comparing how people’s emotions are effected during communication. The people of NYC and LA didn’t care about the setting they were in when they discovered the ‘street portal’ but became emotional on seeing and meeting with family friends in order to talk etc., this example shows us that people were enthusiastic to connect with each other even in an urban set environment[5] thus acknowledging that distance in communication was once a problem, which ceased to exist. John Ewing even suggests that ‘the technology breaks down the isolation of strangers, creating a tentative community.’[6]

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Both Galloway and Rabinowitz used a ‘satellite feed’ to create the connection between places. By communicating at ‘earth stations,’ radio signals are sent up via ‘uplinks’ which are then sent back via ‘downlinks.’ This particular sculpture however used ‘feeder links’ in order to send signals from the uplink station which was in NYC, projected to the downlink station or ‘hub’ in LA and vice versa[7], both connected to a telephone line in order to receive the projected image and sound. Through this particular transmission, the different states were able to translate back and forth with each other via telecast over satellite images projected from connected video cameras.

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Through the breaking down of social communication, we can see that the particular code used (in this case the telecast via satellite) changed the way in which people communicated to each other in different settings. They no longer had to worry about the emotional attachments of someone moving across to different states and countries, because communication was made possible through satellite connection, this is evident through the use of Galloway and Rabinowitz setting up the social sculpture/artwork with no instructions on how to use it for the public, because they wanted to create a emotional response, through this procedure family and friends bridged the gap on communication through distance, they were amazed and emotional, talking about intimate details of their life to each other in different states in the middle of busy sidewalks in NYC/LA.

The possibilities from here on out were endless, when introducing this to the public, many wanted to create a similar technology in which people could use daily, not just for the 3 days which created a public need for this type of technology. By breaking down the barrier of distance through technology, people were able to connect with people across state and country not having to worry about travelling, although this effected transport, with longer journeys made easy through this technology. People were often missed more, because although they could see, hear and speak to one other, they could still not be physically with them, which forced many to travel the distance anyway to be with there with their loved ones.

[1] Media Art Net (2004): Galloway, Kit; Rabinowitz, Sherrie: Hole in Space. http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/hole-in-space/. Retrieved. 2015-08-15.

[2] ECI-HQ. (1975-2000): KIT GALLOWAY & SHERRIE RABINOWITZ OVERVIEW OF A QUARTER CENTURY OF PIONEERING ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENTS 1975-2000 . http://www.ecafe.com/museum/history/ksoverview2.html. Retrieved. 2015-08-15.

[3] Larry Press. (2008): Excerpts from A Hole in Space — the mother of all video chats. 15 March. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSMVtE1QjaU. Retrieved. 2015-08-15

[4] Iphia Ryerson. 2011. Hole In Space 1980: Installation by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz. [ONLINE] Available at: https://iphiahenry.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/hole-in-space-1980-installation-by-kit-galloway-and-sherrie-rabinowitz/. [Accessed 16 August 15].

[5] Foth, M, 2011. A street scape portal. From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen: Urban Informatics, Social Media, Ubiquitous Computing, and Mobile Technology to Support Citizen Engagement, [Online]. ‘Hole in space’ and ‘Hole in the earth’, 412. Available at: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=pT-PyZEoVykC&pg=PA412&lpg=PA412&dq=how+did+they+make+the+hole+in+space+1980&source=bl&ots=2XMPnqbTda&sig=LvY_DU5LbBrXTXmGqMDWxiv_DvY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDIQ6AEwA2oVChMI5KGRtPysxwIVYcamCh0Kcgg-#v=onepage&q=how%20did%20they%20make%20the%20hole%20in%20space%201980&f=false [Accessed 16 August 2015].

[6] John Ewing . 2010. How Virtual Street Corners Fits with History of Art-Telecom Projects. [ONLINE] Available at: http://mediashift.org/idealab/2010/03/how-virtual-street-corners-fits-with-history-of-art-telecom-projects067/. [Accessed 16 August 15].

[7] FCC Satellite Learning center. 2014. How do satellites work? . [ONLINE] Available at: https://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/kidszone/satellite/kidz/how_sats_work.html. [Accessed 16 August 15].


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