ITP blog · socially-engaged-art-digital-practice

Final project - update 1

30 November 2019

I propose a project which intervenes in the nightclub experience and engages the Brooklyn electronic dance music community, a community which I have become involved in as a consumer and producer of creative material over the past year. I am interested in the accessibility of underground music cultures, nightlife as art form, and "performative acts of collectivity and expression" [4].


Let me begin with the acknowledgement that technological interventions in the nightclub experience are fraught and often unwelcome by club-goers. The electronic dance music community, since its early days of discoteques in the late 60s, has done well for itself without the use of digital technology. In the DJ booth, many DJs spin vinyl records to this day, resisting the conveniences of digital record players (known as CDJs) or laptop-based record organization systems. As far as audience-centric technologies, many of the best club experiences are marked by a lack of tech devices (through bans on cell phones and/or cameras), a situation which encourages dancers to live more in the moment (instead, other forms of mediation and self-virtualization are preferred, namely hallucinatory drugs).

What doesn't work

Technologies which facilitate song requests by the audience deter exploration of new, experimental music. At its best, when treated as art form, the nightclub is a space for creative freedom & experimentation, marked by "the deviant, the dissident, the different" [3]. The DJ is not a jukebox; they are responsible for taking the audience on a sonic journey through rare, new music. This task becomes even more difficult with the inclusion of democratic voting systems in music selection.

Live streaming as a method of remote party-going ultimately fails because of the "technical challenges of transmitting festive energies across media” [2]. At best, viewers on popular streaming sites like Boiler Room become eyewitnesses to cultural events. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it points to the limitations of current attempts to make underground music culture accesible via mass media technologies.


Remote choreographic interventions for a dance floor, mediated by Instagram live. Presentation linked here.


  1. Gates, Carrie, Sriram Subramanian, and Carl Gutwin. “DJs’ Perspectives on Interaction and Awareness in Nightclubs.” In Proceedings of the 6th Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, 70–79. DIS ’06. New York, NY, USA: ACM, 2006.
  2. Guillaume Heuguet. “When Club Culture Goes Online: The Case of Boiler Room.” Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture, no. 1 (2016): 73.
  3. Moore, Madison. “Nightlife as Form.” Theater 46, no. 1 (January 2016): 49–63.
  4. O’Grady, Alice. “Spaces of Play: The Spatial Dimensions of Underground Club Culture and Locating the Subjunctive.” Collected Work: Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture. IV/1 (2012): The Exodus of Psytrance?. Published by: London: University of East London (Centre for Cultural Studies Research), 2012. (AN: 2012-03735). 4, no. 1 (January 1, 2012): 86–106.
  5. Vitos, Botond. “‘An a Physical Space’: Researching the Mediated Immediacy of Electronic Dance Floors.” Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture 6, no. 2 (December 2014): 1.