The Third Space

“Performance companies may use this virtual hole in reality not to differentiate the two realities but to combine them. Using the doubling of space synergistically to demarcate a new unified “mixed reality” space.” – Slavoj Zizeki, “Holes in Reality”

Tel-e-tea by Peiyi Wong: theater student, Center for Integrated Media, California Institute of the Arts

The third space fundamentally represents the fusion of the physical (first space) and the virtual (second space) into a third space that can be inhabited by remote users simultaneously or asynchronously. The hybrid notion of blurring the real and the virtual is expanded in the third space through distributed presence, in which the participants of the third space are in remote physical places. Essentially, we are referring to a shared electronic and networked space, in which interaction takes place in space between the real and the virtual. The third space extends the notion of the real and the virtual by creating a new hybrid space that allows remote participants to interact collectively: a form of many-to-many interaction.

The third space is not a new concept: speaking on a telephone is a third space experience, or perhaps “phone space,” in which participants are joined together electronically from remote locations for purposes of shared communication. Watching a movie is not a third space experience, because all of the viewers are watching in the same physical space. However, web-conferencing is a third space environment, as we use the shared space of the interface to interact, view one another, chat, and present media: all while remotely distributed. The third space does not need to be live, it can be realized and experienced asynchronously, such as a Web-based discussion forum or even email and texting, however, the experienced of exchange and participation is heightened when the interaction is live and in real-time.

This research explores the creative potential of the third space for artistic creation, performance, education, collaboration, and play. Despite the pervasiveness of broadband technology and the free tools available for real-time connectivity (ie. Skype, Facetime, etc.), we have barely tapped the potential for the exploration of live, networked experience. This exploration of the creative dimensions of the third space has resulted in the Open Source Studio project for purposes of teaching and creative dialogue, as well as The Post Reality Show as a medium for live Internet performance.