Second Front Video Release

Pokémon-A-Go-Go – by Second Front

We are happy to release the latest video from Second Front. The machinima was shot on our simulators at Odyssey and then edited at the Black Bag Media Collective studio. Congratulations to Second Front on another fine production.

About Pokémon-A-Go-Go

What happens when the Pokémon turn?

Years of torment and domination have led to an uprising. While humans have been busy playing — Pokémon have been busy training! Awake! It is a new dawn for Pokémon! Downtrodden and abused creatures of the World — UNITE!


Pikachu – Liz Solo, Purrloin – Bibbe Hansen, Mew – Patrick Lichty,  Umbreon – Yunji Kim Yohanning
With: Phreek Fargis, Yael Gilks, Zesstar Zaymed, Hybrid Fusion, Ruri Rio Mihashi and SaveMe Oh.
Special appearances by: Razzbowski and PewDiePie/Beast Master 64

Second Front creates theatres of the absurd that challenge notions of virtual embodiment, online performance and the formation of virtual narrative.

Machinima shot and edited by Liz Solo

BBMC at Hi-Dance with Odyssey and Senses Places

sensesplacespicfrom The Odyssey Simulator

Odyssey and the BBMC had the pleasure of hosting another event with Senses Places – Isabel Valverde and Senses Places at Hi-Dance Festival – Dance and Technology, Rome, Italy. Isabel performed live on stage with Odyssey artists/avatars. Avatars performed via large scale projections. Liz Solo and Mike Kean of The Black Bag Media Collective also participated via live web stream and webcam motion capture interface – Liz and Mike improvised with the collective and Mike premiered “Blued Mood”, a solo piece for bassist and avatars.

Here is some documentation of the event from the BBMC Studio perspective with live streamed footage of part of the performance by Francesca Fini.

Isabel Valverde and Senses Places – Mixed Reality Performance and Participatory Environment
Hi-Dance Festival – Dance and Technology – Rome, Italy, February 17, 2015
also at The Black Bag Media Collective Studio, St John’s Newfoundland
and The Odyssey Simulator
with Isabel Valverde, SaveMe Oh, Liz Solo, Francesca Fini, Mike Kean
Rita Paz/Zapa7ir, Isa Seppi/Janjii Rugani, Kikas Babenco, Todd Cochrane and others



a consideration by Frank Barry

– a consideration by Frank Barry

A futuristically primitive live/streaming performance presented by the BLACK BAG MEDIA COLLECTIVE headed by Liz Solo and Tina Pearson and including members of the BBMC, ethno-musicologists from Memorial University and other artists via SECOND LIFE and live stream from Germany, the USA and beyond — with Krista Vincent, Sarah Commerford, Chris Tonelli, Mehrenegar Rostami, Andreas Mueller, Mike Kean.

The other night I attended a strange performance. And by strange I mean original, interesting, moving – good. In a small room in the basement of the LSPU Hall a group of performers/artists/musicians had gathered to ask themselves a question. Their intention (I believe) was to perform both the question and the myriad answers (more questions) that the original question evoked. The question was this – What are our fears and dreams of the emerging digital technology?
The night’s performance was divided into five different pieces each connected to the other by their use and concern with digital media technology:

bbmctechnoNOT MARIO – a young woman (Sarah Commerford) sings operatic phrases via Skype on a large screen while being answered by live singers in the room.

This piece gave me a sudden jolt into my own past. Years ago I was present at a fado performance in an old tavern in the Barrio Alto in Lisbon Portugal. The singer, a local woman in her work clothes, stood at the bar with a glass of wine and sang in a voice of melting steel about a small bird (her love) that had flown away. The customers, regulars at the tavern, answered her song in the timeless tradition of human choruses since the dawn of music. They echoed her grief and the sad melancholy that can only be known by those who have felt the pain of a broken heart. In other words all of humanity.

Now here I was over thirty years later sitting in a room experiencing that same need and beauty of the whole communicating its humanity with the one. It was not in a seedy tavern nor did the singers wear the telling clothes of their singular trades. The soloist was on a screen removed far from the scene and the answerers were as diverse as pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. But that same thrill was there. That sharing of our common voice. That yearning of the human soul to know that others have felt as it feels. That it is not alone.

ANSWERING MACHINES – here an artist in Germany (Andreas Mueller) sampled old messages left on found answering machines and played them via Skype video stream while two artists (Tina Pearson and Chris Tonelli) in the room re-interpreted the text live.

This piece evoked immediate and uneasy feelings in me about things that I had felt when leaving messages — some dire, some crapulous, many drunken, some angry, some pleading, all soul sick — on the answering machines of old girlfriends. I wondered if they might still be out there. That voice of my younger self, drunken, pleading, angry, sobbing, trapped in some sort of electronic amber but capable now of being rejuvenated and exposed via some new media, like the one I was witnessing. It made me feel uneasy that something that had faded (thankfully) from my mind could be lodged in some data cloud and distributed infinitely and universally. It raised not so much a fear, for love sick youth is well forgiven, but the thought that other things might remain as well. If I the atheist, am proven wrong, will St. Peter have a means/media with which to expose/broadcast aloud to the celestial jury/everybody else — all my guilty shit?


TENDER BUNDLE – a woman (Krista Vincent) performs tonal interference (live) on an oscilloscope exploring the feelings she had while unwrapping her old electronics equipment.

This was a haunting performance. There’s something about bending sound that always stretches my spinal cord. And once again the piece seemed to be about a memory and induced memory. The first time I heard a Jimi Hendrix record I was transfixed and transported simultaneously and this was before I knew that mind expanding drugs were available at the local mall from someone other than a licensed pharmacist. Once again I had the thought that here I was at a performance about modern digital technology and I was being transported backwards not forward. What was happening?


IN THIS FAR NOW –  Second Life avatars from around the world perform a piece accompanied by musicians and Liz Solo singing live in the room.

I have to say that I really don’t yet understand the central idea of avatar based performance. But I think I’m starting to get it by thinking about them as a sort of electronic puppeteering. I relate very well to puppets. I know – what modern human couldn’t? But I mean I relate to them as the puppeteer. I’ll often stick a sock on my hand and have a good old chaw with my woolly homunculus. A homunculus who agrees with everything I say because of course it’s me. And to my understanding the Second Life avatar must be a realization of some other artist’s own me but one that can now span the world. I still have problems with their templated looking design but that is definitely subjective. One thing did occur to me as Liz moved in proxy with the foreign avatars was that it would be a great way to learn a folk dance. The past again?

ONE THING INTO ANOTHER – in this piece found texts from various social media were woven together into a song performed by the artists and participants in the room.
This was a very moving piece that allowed us to share our common humanity using both text media and the human voice.

Somehow the whole night made you realize — no feel — that whatever these new things are they are tools made by us and that we are responsible for them. Another beautiful, and perhaps strange, thing about the night was that I felt that I was at the very beginning of something. That I felt something like that old ape had felt when he knocked a tree limb against a rock and all the other apes looked up. Do it again! Do it again! Make that sound. Tell us something.


I felt that I was not in a room of technology whiz kids but in a room where adults were asking valuable questions about the nature of a human creation that was changing our lives. To be in a room where people were asking valuable questions was original enough these days but to see them do it without the smugness of rhetoric but with a true need to ask the questions was as exciting a piece of honest theatre I’ve seen in a long time.

Some of this new technology has now been around for a long time in today’s terms. But what was new and original and exciting about the night was, in the end, the questions that arose from experiencing it, not alone in a room, but in a community that was asking, like Gauguin’s famous questions, which in fact were themselves a form of mixed media as they were painted as text on one of his paintings. Where did we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? To which I will audaciously add – And who is bringing us there?
A night of questions. A night of memory. A night of future.

– Frank Barry, 2013
Barry is a writer, actor and director for theater and film. He currently lives and works in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
All photos on this page by Rhonda Pelley.

This essay was commissioned by the Black Bag Media Collective. The Techno Dream and Nightmare Choir was made possible thanks to the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Media Arts Section.

Flick Harrison and Catherine Falkner at the BBMC

The BBMC are preparing for their second Visiting Artist’s Residency, this time with Vancouver artists Flick Harrison and Catherine Falkner. Throughout the Residency both artists will be offering workshops. Here are the details:

Video-making Workshops with Flick Harrison (Vancouver)   Vancouver artist, filmmaker and rabble rouser Flick Harrison will be in St. John’s from August 28th until September 9th offering one-on-one and group workshops in video making and editing. In particular the workshops will focus on shooting/documenting/videomaking for live bands, and live arts and performance events.

Is one of your favourite bands playing this week and you would like to shoot the show?
Obsessed with documenting?
Got footage of a show/performance you shot last year that you would just love to finally edit? Or some old footage from yesteryear that needs to see the light of day?

Contact the Black Bag Media Collective to arrange to participate in one-on-one and group workshop sessions with Flick Harrison. No experience or pre-requisites necessary. Having your own camera and computer is a bonus but these things are not essential. Contact us here:

Videos made during the process have the opportunity to be screened in different alternative venues over the weekend of September 7- 9 as well as be a part of a one time installation at the Black Bag Media Collective Studio.

Made possible through the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Media Arts Section.
Brought to you by the Black Bag Media Collective.

About Flick Harrison
Flick Harrison is a self-made nobody, a renegade artist, an underpreneur, a premiere Vancouver poorfessional, and now a member of the Sunset Community artists-in-residence “Something Collective.” His film, theatre, video, acting, writing and camera work has been seen by millions, been nominated and won awards internationally, and slipped into, under and through almost every Canadian funding niche. Chretien’s chief strategist Warren Kinsella called Flick “offensive” and “unfair,” the Globe and Mail called him “hilarious,” and the Georgia Straight called his work “gorgeously sophisticated.” His work includes teaching media art to kids, engaging community through art, designing projections for theatre and dance, and international journalism and criticism.

Flick started as a videographer on the national CBC series Road Movies, and went on to work with 536 Arts Collective, Theatre Conspiracy, Dancers Dancing, Leaky Heaven Circus, Headlines Theatre, and Ballet British Columbia. He’s acted with the likes of Lucy Lawless and Edward James Olmos, studied under Noam Chomsky, beaten the Sundance parking laws, startled Brian Mulroney *and* Kim Campbell, interviewed Ed Asner to sleep, been poisoned by the Taliban, flown light aircraft, ridden boxcars on national television, dodged the border patrol in Mexico, held hands with Negativland, promoted David Orchard, fired rifles in the tribal zones of Pakistan, and shown in the Museum of the Moving image in New York.

He’s made video for Stephane Dion, R.E.M., Wreckless Eric, Battlestar Galactica, Amnesty International, Canned Hamm, Bruce Sweeney, Nettie Wild, Reg Harkema, David Vaisbord, James Dunnison, and many others.


Rasa Box Workshop – with Catherine Falkner (Vancouver)
“rasa” – a Sanskrit word meaning “essence.” 
In this ensemble based workshop participants will be exposed to rasa boxes. Based on an ancient Sanskrit performance philosophy the rasa box workshop explores nine emotional states, or “essences”, and how they can be used in creating performance.
Through working with breath, sound and movement the rasa box techniques can lead to discovery of organic and truthful impulses to enhance performance work.
The workshop is designed to accommodate a range of skill levels and interests of professionals and students including actors, directors, performance artists, musicians, choreographers, playwrights, movement and dance teachers and/or therapists.

Where: The Masonic Temple
When: Sunday September 2nd from 2 to 6 PM
Cost: $20 (discount rates are available for those who need one, just ask)
Space is limited to 12 participants so please register by writing
The workshop will start with a gentle warm-up followed by ensemble building exercises. This will lead to intensive work with the rasa boxes.

Please bring a yoga mat if you have one.
Wear comfortable loose clothing that you can move in.
Please no perfumes or jewelry.
All welcome, no previous experience necessary.
Be ready to play and have fun!

About Catherine Falkner
Catherine Falkner thought her quirks would just go away, but instead they forced her into show business. Catherine is a Vancouver based multi-disciplined artist with a bent toward camp, clown and Absurdism. She has worked with filmmaker Flick Harrison on his guerrilla film shorts, The Blood of the Worker, Breaking the Law, The Artist at Work and the larger-scale production Victory Party.

She has also been working in performance art / burlesque (The Hot Toddy Girls), writing / producing finger-puppet shows (Mit Funf) and sketch comedy (as a founding member of Girl Parts.

In 2010 she went back to school and is earning her Theatre Degree in Performance at the School for Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. Recently Catherine has performed at the Vancouver International Comedy Festival, the Vancouver Fringe Festival, Presentation House North Vancouver and in the award-winning short film, “Petar the pig farmer.”

Still shot from the film The Victory Party, by Flick Harrison
Brought to you by the Black Bag Media Collective.


Techno Dream and Nightmare Choir

The Black Bag Media Collective
in collaboration with the Sound Symposium
a Feisty, participatory Community Art intervention about networked technology.

from the Black Bag Media Collective and artist in residence Tina Pearson

Send us your Dreams (Send us your Fears)

“Techno Dream and Nightmare Choir” is a Feisty participatory Community Art intervention challenging beliefs about networked technology and its impact on … well, everything.

Inspired by the international Complaints Choir movement, the “Techno Dream and Nightmare Choir” invites everyone to participate. You can join the project by sending us messages about your fears and dreams about networked technology; by coming to live sessions at the Black Bag Media Collective Studio; by participating online via Second Life, Skype, email, Facebook, Twitter and LiveStream; and/or by coming to our live performance on Friday July 20th at 8 PM at the LSPU Hall Second Space.

In ancient times, communities regularly gathered together to make collective songs ward off fears, entice beneficial outcomes and to generally make sense of life and its changes through ritual and creative play. We invite you to gather with us to renew that practice in these a-changing networked times. Tell us your fears and dreams, what makes you happy or sad, about today’s networked technology and how it is embedded in your life.

We will create a set of hybrid Songs rooted in St John’s, inspired by contributions from far and wide … and perform them in a suitably hybrid and networked form.

Black Bag Media Collective’s artist in residence, Tina Pearson, along with BBMC founders Liz Solo, Mike Kean and Marcel Levandier are the hosts and facilitators of this investigation. True to the theme of the project, the Techno Dream and Nightmare song cycle will be made using a mix of readily available audio technologies – from human voices, rocks, sticks and acoustic instruments, to electronic instruments, digital instruments, iPhones, and virtual instruments. Participants and performers will be connected through readily available networked technologies – telephone, email, Skype, Second Life and streaming. Participation is open to anyone wanting to participate in St John’s or online. The performance will be co-ordinated at the Black Bag Media Collective studio in St John’s, Newfoundland and will culminate in a live event at the LSPU Hall Second Space on Friday July 20th at 8 PM.


Tina and BBMC members will be presenting workshops and performances as part of this year’s Sound Symposium – Saturday April 14th – Workshop with Tina Pearson, Liz Solo and the Avatar Orchestra Metaverse at 1 PM. Performance at 3:30 PM. Both events take place at the LSPU Hall. Talk to us!

In your communications, please let us know if you are interested in performing in person or online on July 20 at 8 PM local time in St John’s, Newfoundland. (See the questions below for ideas)

Points of contact:
Skype us: theblackbags
Twitter your ideas #bbmc
Email or Text us at
Leave a message on our landline at 709.722.9915
Post a message on our Facebook Wall:

Join us for Daily workshops/interactions – all are welcome at the BBMC Studio
Anytime between 3 – 7 PM Local Time
July 16 – 19
177 Water Street, 2nd Floor

8 pm Friday July 20
LSPU Hall Second Space
3 Victoria Street,
St. John’s Newfoundland
PWYC at the door.

Tina Pearson has instigated and facilitated an eclectic range of art and community development processes. She directed the local and completely acoustic Victoria Complaints Choir as well as the global and hyper technical multi-disciplinary telematic Rotating Brains – Beating Heart collaboration. She has been a facilitator in cross cultural community development and family support projects and in addition to her solo work, regularly participates in collaborative art making and interventions on and offline with musicians, dancers, video and performance artists. She is a member of the global collective Avatar Orchestra Metaverse, the Victoria performance art group OPEN ACTION and the new music ensemble LaSaM.

About the Project Theme
Some of us can recall a time when the old dial up telephones and black and white tube television were the new thing, following radio, the automobile and printing press in giving us unprecedented access to each other and the world … while at the same time perhaps taking us more away from the people and places we were rooted to.

And others of us have been born into an age where constant connectivity through networked technology is the norm, our fingers dancing over the keyboards of networked devices that bring our thoughts and expressions instantaneously to our friends here and away, and to the world. Being connected has given new freedoms – help is only a call away.

The ideas and definitions of “community”, “relationship” and “friend” have been gradually shifting to mean something quite different than they did to our parents and grandparents, no matter which generation we belong to. And when you think about it, we are already hybrid beings, with brain matter altered by television and computer screens; corneas altered by eyeglasses; hearts, knees and eyes replaced by mechanical and computer-enhanced models; and relationships mediated by gravatars and avatars.

Through advances in audiovisual technologies, we can hear the sound of a mosquito rubbing its feet on a blade of grass and see inside a cell. Networked technology now lets doctors operate on us remotely. It lets us listen in to orcas echolocating in the Pacific or humpbacks calling in the Atlantic, or it lets us watch eagles birthing in forests all over the place, just by switching internet sites from our comfy chairs. And it allows us to mix it all together and send it to our friends if we want to.

What does all of this mean to you?
Let us know!

This project made possible thanks to the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Media Arts Section.

World Telekinesis Competition

The Black Bags participated again this year in Noxious Sector‘s World Telekinesis Competition. It was a roller coaster ride of a match as we began the round in a long stand-off, lost ground in a big move by our opponents Brain Elevating Neurotransmissions and then made a valiant attempt at a comeback. The official results have not been posted yet but our calculations have us congratulating the winners – Brain Elevating Transmissions. Best of luck to all the other competitors!

This is a slideshow of screen grabs capturing the excitement of the hour long match – broadcast live on Noxious Sectors Youstream Channel

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the machine

The BBMC studio was transformed this month into a post apocalyptic cyberpunk squat –  the set for the upcoming film the machine by BBMC member Liz Solo.  the machine is a co-production of Liz Solo and the Black Bag Media Collective. The script for the machine has won the NF Joy Award from the Linda Joy Media Arts Society and the Dramatic Script Prize at the NL Arts and Letters Competition.

Set in post apocalyptic St John’s the machine stars Liz Solo (above) and Melanie Caines (below). Photos by Justin Hall.

The crew on set.

What the Linda Joy Media Arts Society said of the machine:

“the machine is a fairytale from a post-apocalyptic future version of St. John’s, Newfoundland, where two survivors meet and form an unlikely bond. Merging multiple media forms including 16mm film, digital media, and animation The Machine represents a new generation of media arts production and makes use of extremely current creative techniques like Machinima which have grown out of contemporary virtual arts movements. In these creative spaces the artist becomes part of the tale and traditional distinctions and boundaries between art and audience can be challenged in ways that are highly relevant to our increasingly virtual or connected lifestyles. The Machine was also the 2009 winner of the Newfoundland Arts & Letters Dramatic Script Award.

Liz Solo is a new media artist, performance artist, and musician and has previously produced short films using digital media and film. She has pursued her practice at the contemporary edge of media arts for many years, exploring, challenging and mixing media and performance techniques within her own work and with artists’ collectives. She is currently a working member of the Black Bag Media Collective, the Second Front Performance Art Collective, among others. She is also the co-curator of the Odyssey Contemporary Art & Performance Simulator (with Yael Gilks and Jane Leffler), an experimental virtual arts space within Second Life. Her work has appeared at major festivals and biennales from Canada to China.”

the machine is scheduled for release this Fall.