performance protocols

performance | [paer-'for'-mans] protocols | [proe-to-'koels']

Concept [about]*

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Offline [events]

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About performance protocols [concept and statement]
by Tina Mariane Krogh Madsen

performance protocols is an interdisciplinary platform for performance instruction and notation that creates exhibitions and events. The artists invited can be from various fields working with the form, from performance art, conceptual art, sound art, music, choreography or code works. The platform wishes to break the boundaries of media definitions and host works that explore notation, protocols, instruction, and scoring. Each exhibition and / or event has a dedicated theme that explores this field in its various ways. performance protocols is both an online and offline format. As as online exhibition space it hosts online exhibitions with instructions and scores, artist manuals and protocols. It also hosts yearly events, where scores are performed live in selected venues and in public space. The offline part additionally wishes to travel to different countries and venues, where each offline event and its mirrored online exhibition is curated accordingly, primarily with local artists from that destination.

performance protocols opens its first online exhibition on June 27. 2019 with a dedication to the theme “walking protocols,” where the act of walking is explored as artistic means, tool, and concept in performance instructions – protocols. The second part of this thematic investigation, Walking Protocols II, will take place in autumn 2019 (tba).

The third leg of the project will be a publication that in its first editions will be online. The aim with this format is to publish texts, essays, artist texts, scores and protocols, as well as theoretical reflection on the theme. The publication will have an open call for contribution as well as it will feature selected materials from the performance protocols exhibitions.

performance protocols as a platform is primarily a text-based format, with a focus on the content of the works shown. This means that all online exhibition content will be primarily text scores with proposed supported material, while the documentation of the offline events will be through the media that suit to fit the purpose.

performance is to be regarded as both in the art form as it is the actual “execution of an action” (1), or “performing a task or function” (2).

protocols are in this context to be seen as synonymous with scores, recipes, notations, instructions for that action. In its dictionary definition a protocol is:
“The accepted or established code of procedure or behaviour in any group, organization, or situation” (3).

“a protocol is a set of rules and guidelines for communicating data. Rules are defined for each step and process during communication between two or more computers.
Networks have to follow these rules to successfully transmit data” (4).

The definition of the word coming from both human and machine [computer] is fitting in the online presentation of the protocols and with its linkage to the physical performances of the proposed acts. These could also be done by a computer.

Nomadism as concept

Performance Protocols is a nomadic platform in both its refusal to settle a specific place as well as it is anchored in the refusal to be defined; it has an urge to experiment, it is existing between points! It is a part of the concept that performance protocols shouldn’t have a fixed physical base as such, it is connected through the website, as platform. It denies medium definitions, being in-between. It is both distributed via the rhizomatic structure of the web as well as it embraces the nomadic as an active concept as proposed by the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. The project is about creating new spaces of intervention.

The project is additionally intended as an exchange, from artists to visitors, to the individual to the global. The nomadic form of existence of this project can be expressed in the words of feminist and posthuman theorist Rosi Braidotti: “Is there another way in which we can rethink our interconnections?” (2018). performance protocols can do exactly that both online and offline, in different contexts and settings, by different people in different countries.

Notation and scoring as form

Notating, scoring, creating protocols – as mentioned above, many terms and names are connected to the practice of creating performance instructions. From the visual representations in musical notation to word events. Historically scoring practices have been nominally by Fluxus, Dada, and conceptual artists, in performance and sound art, as well as in music and choreography.

Verbal notation is often called text scores, prose scores, word scores, event scores. It uses the written word instead of more symbolic representation in scoring: ”it can suggest many different types of relationships between the author and reader; it can express ideas and concepts, as well as providing prescriptions for action” (Lely and Saunders, “Introduction” IN Word Events, 2012: xviii). Event scores are both considered an object and an activity, which will be unfolded in the performance protocols offline events. The score becomes artwork.

The Danish fluxus artist Eric Andersen defines that:

“Somewhat roughly you can divide Scores into 3 sets: the ones that instruct you to do something, Event Scores that are both an object and an activity, and the ones that carry a maximum of implications. The first ones are pretty conventional, relying on established notation, interpretation and perception. The Event Scores still to some extent carry the orthodox apprehension of the oeuvre while the third set rather tells you nothing. A fine point of departure.” [Andersen IN Fluxus Scores and Instructions, 2008: 22]

The wording of the act that needs to be performed is to some degree dependent on the context and the preference of the artist, the same goes for the use of language in the protocols. The concept of inter-media art as used by the Fluxus artists is important here, since it describes well the in-betweenness of expression, media, life and art that performance instructions can facilitate.

Distributed notation: A brief historical note about networked performance and instruction-based art online

Using the web for distribution of performance practices is somewhat ideal. Using the written word is easy to transfer in a 1:1 relation with the form intact (as text). Using the web enables us to distribute the protocol, the instruction, to different audiences.

Sharing instructions is not a new concept. The Fluxus artists used postal mail to distribute materials, art and instructions, and since the early 90s it became commonly possible to use the web to do so. So-called networked performance practices uses the decentralization of the web to show performance works across boarders to the audiences own home. These are often using web-streams as a tool. One of the first to use the term Networked Performance was the organization (Michelle Riel) in 2004. Additionally appearing in the early 00s was the platform UpStage and the term Cyberformance coined by Helen Varley Jamieson. One of the more extensive festivals for networked performance was later on created by Jorge Rojas in approximately 2008 called Low Lives, after that other initiatives has appeared.*

The above mentioned are of course streamed live performances and networked activities, what is relevant here is the sharing of performance concepts through the web. The democratization of access to these works across the globe. To share instructions enters to a higher degree into the realm of participation, and many of the works in the performance protocols exhibitions are intended to be invitations to perform. As with other networked initiatives it is intended to be enjoyed where-ever you are located. You can also just read and enjoy these as the artworks and text that they are. An older online repository for performance instructions was created by Adam Overton called “,” established around 2008 as a wiki-repository for scores.

performance protocol is in extension to these a platform that proposes thematic exhibitions and writings about score-based art. It curates these as thematic editions as a feedback-loop of online and offline events. performance protocols is more than just a repository and takes “networked performance” out in physical life to be performed. The works on performance protocols are both site-specific and decentralized at the same time.



(5) At the time of writing this text both Low Lives and upload download perform is not active.
UpStage still facilitate events. Newer initiatives are Online Performance Art Festival started in 2016:



Rosi Braidotti (2018). Interview IN Political Critique on nomadism:

Maria Chatzichristodoulou. “Cyberformance? Digital or Networked Performance? Cybertheaters? Or Virtual Theatres? ...or all of the above?” from Cymposium 2012.

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1980). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987.

Jon Hendricks with Marianne Bech and Media Farzin (2008). Fluxus Scores and Instructions. The Transformative Years. “Make a salad.” Detroit: Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection; Roskilde, Denmark: Museet for Samtidskunst, 2008.

John Lely and James Saunders (2012). Word Events: Perspectives on Verbal Notation. London / New York: Continuum, 2012.

* Initiator and curator of performance protocols Tina Mariane Krogh Madsen wrote the essay “Software, kode, net, instruktion”
for the Danish Association of Composers (Dansk Komponist Forening) in 2013) that also touches upon some of the concept mentioned, specifically relating notation to net art (in Danish language).