Our First Plunge into the Deep Third Space

Paul Sermon & Toni Sant in Pandemic Encounters

It was a risky affair to say the least, taking our first plunge into the deep third space. In the first iteration of Pandemic Encounters ::: being [together] in the deep third space, we ventured far out into the realm of telematic togetherness in search of a way to respond to Covid-19, navigating the precarious landscape of network connections, latencies, errors, malfunctions, glitches, while along the way discovering a few magical moments.

Paul Sermon

This new production of Pandemic Encounters, the first Global Laser, was a collaboration between Paul Sermon, Randall Packer, Gregory Kuhn, Third Space Network and Leonardo’s International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, and 14 action-performers: intended as a cathartic social gathering to question the impact of separation in the current state of an apocalyptic pandemic.

Paul Sermon measuring social distancing between Serena Pang and Ng Wen Lei

As we witness a global migration into online environments, for who knows how long (forever?), how do we reimagine our interactions, our need for engagement, the need for the intimacy of physical proximity, in spite of social distancing.

Paul Sermon and Tania Fraga

And so we invited our friends & colleagues from around the world to participate as action-performers, an invitation to step out of their current reality for a few brief moments in collective unity: to play, to perform music, read, move, hug, and touch: the kinds of creative, human activities we have been forced to conduct in the privacy of our homes.

Paul Sermon and Atau Tanaka

Together we reconstructed a new reality in the deep third space, where we could engage in pandemic encounters through spontaneous, improvised interaction. Nestled in layers, we attempted to free ourselves from the tyranny of the Zoom grid, those boundaries of constraint that make us feel even further apart from one another while the devilish plague works its horror.

Paul Sermon and Roberta Buiani

Trapped as we are in this moment of crisis, why not experiment with the possibilities of escape, humor, and extravagant playfulness, to enact the theater’s classic suspension of disbelief so that we can imaginatively find our way out of the inescapable predicament we find ourselves in.

Paul Sermon and Andrew Denton

And within this new found make-believe environment of the deep third space, we can create moments of pure poetry with our bodies, remote as we are, daring ourselves to dance with the darkness of death to create a macabre memento mori of tenderness.

Marilene Oliver

How gratifying it is as we hide under the covers, fearing to face yet another day of our Covid existence, to find a hand reaching out from the network, a total stranger entering our private space with a desire to touch and to be touched, to create intimacy, however distant.

Paul Sermon and Annie Abrahams

Now we find ourselves, en masse, in a strange new world, a new landscape, like a hall of mirrors, gazing at reflections of ourselves + others in the virtual space, attempting to contemplate our isolation as a way to rescue ourselves from the hellish outside reality of the pandemic.

Daniel Pinheiro

While the plague spreads its global disease, we can still find a way to dream, to imagine, to fantasize about the old world of Russian folks songs and fairy tales, a world we seem to have left far behind in some other lifetime.

Olga Remneva and Paul Sermon

And so, betwixt and in-between the liminality of the deep third space, we can find ourselves still human, still hanging on to a sense of humanity, pleasure, and desire. No matter how many people are dying around us, we need to find solace, not only in pandemic encounters of the third kind, but those we can enjoy at home in our pod.

Serena Pang and Ng Wen Lei

Pandemic Encounters ::: being [together] in the deep third space, explores the implications of the migratory transition to the network we are all experiencing. Even when we return to the so-called normal, we will be changed, when social interaction & human engagement will have undergone a radical transformation. In this new work, Paul Sermon performs as a live chroma-figure in a deep third space audio-visual environment, interacting with action-performers from around the world – artists, musicians, dancers, media practitioners and scientists – a collective response to a global pandemic that has triggered an unfolding metamorphosis of the human condition.

Action-performers: Annie Abrahams (France), Clarissa Ribeiro (Brazil), Roberta Buiani (Canada), Andrew Denton (New Zealand), Tania Fraga (Brazil), Birgitta Hosea (UK), Charles Lane (US), Ng Wen Lei (Singapore), Marilene Oliver (Canada), Serena Pang (Singapore), Daniel Pinheiro (Portugal), Olga Remneva (Russia), Toni Sant (UK), Atau Tanaka (UK)

Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST) is a nonprofit organization that serves the global network of distinguished scholars, artists, scientists, researchers and thinkers through our programs, which focus on interdisciplinary work, creative output and innovation.

The Third Space Network, created by Randall Packer, is an artist-driven Internet platform for staging creative dialogue, live performance and uncategorizable activisms: social empowerment through the act of becoming our own broadcast media.

Global LASER is a new series of networked events that bring together artists, scientists, and technologists in the creation of experimental forms of live Internet performance and creative dialogue.