"A Space With No Geographical Boundaries". 
Objective: To demonstrate for the first time, that several performing artists, separated by oceans and geography, could perform together by seeing themselves occupying the same live image - "The image as place." Everyone would see themselves standing next to each other, able to talk with each other, and ultimately perform together -- 
"A virtual performance space with no geographic boundaries".
From 1975 through 1977 artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz developed a series of projects under a heading they called "Aesthetic Research in Telecommunications," 1975. Among these projects was the Satellite Arts Project that addressed a multitude of telecollaborative arts and virtual space performance issues that had never been genuinely tested or even experienced. Central to the Satellite Arts Project idea was an aesthetic inquiry that would apply the performing arts as a mode of investigating the possibilities and limitations of various technologies to create new contexts for art, including the emergence of telecollaborative arts on a global scale. In a time when satellites were the only viable means of transmitting full-motion video across oceans in near-realtime (the global context), the artists focused equally on transmission delays over long distance networks, and performed a number of telecollaborative dance, music, and performance scores to determine what traditional genres could be supported, while exploring new genres that would emerge over time as intrinsic to these new ways of being-in-the-world.

The Satellite Arts "series" of projects represents a seminal work in telecommunications art history. Not a conventional satellite broadcast of an artist/s as subject, nor a videoconference by artists. This marks the first time that the geographically dispersed electronic image was contextualized as a live immersive place, where artists, and others, could convene and co-create together on a scale that could be as culturally inclusive as desired.

 The first live satellite performances and satellite time-delay tests were conducted on July 26, 1977. Rehearsals with performers in simulated environments were already underway. The concluding satellite performances were November 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 1977. 

On a November evening in 1980 the unsuspecting public walking past the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, and "The Broadway" department store located in the open air shopping center in Century City (LA), had a surprising encounter with each other. Suddenly, live, head-to-toe, life-sized, images of the people on the opposite coast appeared.

Short Narrated Video
Full Event Reel Video
(courtesy of larry press & youtube)

Over three evenings, people could see, hear, and converse as if having a sidewalk encounter. No signs or sponsor logos were posted -- no explanation was offered. No intervening self-view video monitors to distract from the phenomena of the encounter with the life-size image. Self-view video monitors would have degraded these dynamic encounters into a self-conscience videoconference.

If you have ever seen what the award winning video documentation captured, then you would have laughed and cried at the amazing human drama and events that transpired over the evolution of the three evenings. Hole-In-Space suddenly severed the distance between both cities and created an outrageous new context for a pedestrian intersection. The first evening was about discovery; the second evening was populated by word-of-mouth and long distance telephone calls - that evening television news put the word out in both cities; the third evening was a mass televisual convergence of families members and trans-continental lovers, some family members had not seen each other in decades.

Created and produced by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz. Funded in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Broadway Department Store, with support from Avery Fisher Hall, and the support of many companies including Western Union, General Electric and Wold Communications.

 ART-COM - 1982 was a credited multi-disciplinary laboratory at Loyola Marymount University in which graduate students used performance as the mode of investigation to study and comment on their experiences of "living in" a composite-image space. Students also explored performing everyday tasks, collaborative problem solving, and theatre skits mimicking life situations with their fellow students who were at a remote site on campus. This "life in virtual space" lab extended the notion of "the image as place," and as a "virtual performance space" developed in the Satellite Arts Project.

A final live public performances of the findings of the ART-COM lab were performed at Loyola Marymount University, and for an audiences at the American Film Institute (AFI), Los Angeles.

Created and produced by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz; supported with equipment donations from Sony Corporation and the facilities of Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.
FULL CREDITS: Sorry, not yet posted.

In 1983 artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz began refining a concept for a telecollaborative network connecting informal public multimedia communications venues. The original Electronic Cafe Network was to be the artists offering as a replicable social model and proposed antidote to the approaching Orwellian year of 1984. It was thought that by integrating multiple-media telecollaborative technologies with the culturally diverse creative communities throughout Los Angeles that a powerful new context for cultural

sharing would emerge -- a breakaway context that would establish an important dialogue about the role such technologies can play in fostering the invention of a new cultural interaction, and scale of artistic collaboration and inquiry. Thus the world would be safe from the Orwellian prophecy :-)

The Electronic Cafe Network was about integration: Integrating community, art, technology, multimedia telecommunications, and cross-cultural communications. The technical mission was to define the basic human requirements to facilitate a "creative conversation" between people even if they did not speak the same language. The technical installation used a hybrid of computer-based communications: 1) A text-based computer network with a state-of-the-art user interface allowing people to participate in, or to create their own topics of discussion; 2) A keyword searchable text and pictorial databases "Community Memory(s)"; 3) The first demonstration of a public storage and retrievable image database as a component of the keyword searchable database; 4)Videoconferencing; 5)Audioconferencing; 6)Realtime collaborative telewriting & shared-screen drawing, including the ability to collaboratively add annotations to still-video images; 7) The ability of any venue to broadcast sight and sound to any, or all, of the others venues; 8) High resolution image printers so that activities could be documented and mounted on the wall for public view.

The original Electronic Cafe Network was operational for seven weeks during the 1984 Summer Olympic Arts Festival.
The cultural diversity of greater Los Angeles provided a perfect setting for mimicking an international network. Artists and educators that lived in the communities helped find the host venues for their EC installations. They were trained as EC systems operators and everyone drew upon their talents as community instigators, helping themselves and others in the community to culturally, and politically animate "their" network node.  To meet the challenge of establishing a representative cultural  identity on the network, and then, to eventually discover the new skills, dexterity's, and common concerns and interests required to successfully begin telecollaborating with other communities on the EC network. The original Electronic Cafe Network was a model for a regional resource and intended to demonstrate in a very public way the rewards of acknowledging, cultivating, and acculturating multimedia, telecollaborative, virtual space. The six months prior to the installation of any technology in the participating communities were dedicated to community meetings, introductions to what was then state-of-the-art and prototype technology, and the training of the artists and others living in the communities that would be the facilitators in their own communities. Budget issues reduced the intended ten EC-Sites to the final five locations.

For many reasons other than the fact that a keyboard alone was intimidating to most people as a point of entry, the multimedia EC Network enabled people of different language groups to participate. Not only that, the audio visual "show & tell" capabilities, the shared-screen telewriting/drawing capability, video annotation, image database archiving, and multimedia broadcast capabilities opened up the world of telecollaboration to individuals, groups, artists, and community organizers in ways not possibilities, nor as dynamics as text-based networks alone.

 The Original Electronic Cafe Network 1984 included:
  • The Gumbo House, Crenshaw, CA., (South Central LA) 
  • Ana Maria Restaurant, (East LA) 
  • The 8th Street Restaurant, (Korea Town) LA. 
  • Gunter's Cafe, (beach area) Venice, CA. 
  • The Museum Of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Downtown LA

Commissioned by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Arts Festival. For additional information about funding, corporate support, full staff, people, and artist CLICK HERE FOR CREDITS

 LIGHT TRANSITION -> Developed in 1981, this project is as yet unrealized. Light Transition is about remote viewing and observation. Throughout the day, a series of live composite-image compositions of both the Atlantic and Pacific shorelines of the U.S., concluding with the observation of a simultaneous moonrise over the Atlantic Ocean and sunset into the Pacific Ocean. Designed as a high definition satellite broadcast over a national cable television network, and/or a low resolution version cybercast over the internet.

Light Transition uses live multi-site remote imaging as a poetic observation and homage to one aspect of the sidereal dynamics. It was through the observation of the night time sky that inspired the invention of the calendar, and astral navigation that started western civilization on a never ending technological binge. Cameras are positioned at the beach on both coasts, bringing the oceans together in a live split-screen image. Light Transition begins when the light is even over both coasts. Each transmission builds incrementally upon those previous, disclosing to our gaze those great cyclical patterns of shadow and gravity that marks the aspect and orbit of our planet through its circle of hours. When the project reaches its dramatic conclusion it becomes obvious that all the technology has been synchronized to observe a simultaneous moonrise over the Atlantic Ocean and sunset into the Pacific Ocean. With the help of computer scientists and astronomers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Light Transition was precisely calculated to capture in its final transmission the celestial event. Supported by National Endowment For The Arts, Western States Media Award.

Light Transition is a spin-off project of a larger Solstice Observation project that would broadcast the solar alignments and light projections at sacred sites and ancient stone observatories around the world.

HIGHLIGHTS - 1988 -> 
After the opening of the original Electronic Cafe Network in 1984 we felt that we had reached "the limits of models." All of our previous work begged to be developed. The next step was "community," a permanent multimedia collaborative public network. In 1988 ECI opened with its first international link with Paris. -- ECI creates a networked lab, to support collaboration and co-creation between people in different cultures, countries and language groups.

ECI is about Creative Integration -- technically, socially, and artistically. ECI operates simultaneously and interactively on many levels. All of these Highlights have some off-line video recorded and, in some cases site documentation, paper documents, drawings, and photos. Many Highlights were technological firsts and many of them represent different collaborations with various hardware and software venders. They represent original telecollaborative projects, many of these original projects and series, for example the Tele-PoetryNet, have spun-off autonomous projects.

This body of work has always been about the multitudes of creative ways and contexts in which people can come together to cultivate new ways of collaborating together across distance and divides both technical and cultural. It's about the quality of the "actual human-to-human experience," not the post-mortem, or an exhibit, or traveling installation. Its been about a way of life inseparable from the collaborations of friends, fellow travelers, and constituencies defined by ideas not geography.

Each of the events and activities over the years at ECI have opened up new opportunities for pioneering, development and cultivating telecollaborative art genres like Tele-Poetry, and The Musical Conversation between globally dispersed performers work quite well using both internet-based and non-internet broadband and narrowband technologies. In the ongoing Global Tele-Arts-Lab spirit cultivated across the ECI-Network of Friends & Affiliates, multiple-media telecollaborative performances and activities incorporate the visions of several geographically dispersed collaborating artists and activists. ECI-Network patrons participate in venues around the world and often have an important role in completing the work, or are the in fact the nature of the telecollaborative work/event. Philosophically, the ECI concept, context, and content has been about the creation of a virtual social commons where the convergence of intimate terminal space, public space, and virtual space comes together as an experience.

Analog telephone lines, digital ISDN lines, and Internet networking capabilities are often used in concert to create hybrid multimedia networks not available from any one service provider, thus enabling us to model emerging telecom environments years before they are alleged to arrive in our homes.

As of 1997, all of the public ECI events and activities are video & audio cybercast (Streamed live over the internet), using a JAVA-based technology requiring no plug-ins to view, thanks to our strategic partner, Graham Technologies Solutions, Inc. Over the years ECI-HQ, Santa Monica has used all types of broadband communications services to provide its connectivity - T1 lines have been installed and taken down as needed for special projects requiring full-motion video.

In the early '90, ECI-HQ, Santa Monica was the first to have official ISDN service lines installed in the city thanks to the efforts of Byron Wagner (also our free ISP). The VRML-ECI, and Multi-user VRML-ECI was made possible by Pascal Baudar of the LAVUG & Tod Foley and the artists at Hands of Time Productions created ECI's Palace site.


 ECI-HQ is a physical place, however several online virtual version of ECI-HQ have come into existence over the years. Some have been 2D multiuser environments, and a few architecturally exact 3D versions enabling event planners and telecollaborators to both get a "feel" for the place, and to lay-out plans to fit the space. Pictured is a group shot of the LA-VRML SIG community that sponsored and created the ECI VRML Barn Raising in the summer of 1997. CLICK HERE TO SEE CREDITS.

Look at the variety and amount of telecollaboration between artists across the globe; look for the collaboration between artists and technology-technicians; think of the telecollaborations required to co-produce activities like these across a network. Look for the public inclusive environs. Look at the number of telecollaborative events performed publicly, or that involved public participation.

 TELEBRATIONs - 1989 to 2000: ECI-HQ established the "New Year's Eve Around-The-World "TELEBRATION,"" and like most of the larger global events, connections of various sorts took place everywhere and anywhere using every kind of com tech possible - from Ham Radio to T1 lines. Every New Year's Eve the "TELEBRATION " network would attempt to exchange performances greetings and best wishes with every time-zone as they hit midnight.

Tele-Poetry - 1989: With the LA poet Bruce "Bowerbird," ECI-HQ established the first videophone poetry network including The Nuyorican Poets' Cafe, NYC; Stone Soup Poets, Boston, and eventually many others locations in the US and abroad, including ECI's in Paris, Tokyo, Santa Fe, and Denmark. This series allows LA poets to encounter the interests, cultural diversity, and aesthetic agendas of poets in other places, circumstances, and political contexts.

ECI-HQ offered friends the first opportunity to get internet email accounts. Using computer networks, videophones, audioconferencing, and all sorts of devices, ECI-HQ amassed about 50 affiliated locations around the world, some were permanent, some would come online for special events only. Pictured are three Biospherians stationed inside "Biosphere II" for two years. ECI-HQ was their friendly virtual hangout where they could turn science into performance art.

The ECI Archives contains, as it should be of no surprise, presenters that have "passed on." Even "new" technologies, companies, concepts, and the "next big thing" pass on.
Pictured is the great man Morton Heilig, who in 1962 created the legendary Sensorama. Audio and visual recordings of Timothy Leary and others are stored at ECI-HQ, and in need of preservation.

Before and into the early '90's analog technologies and networks had "bridging" capabilities to link multiple locations together simultaneously - most text-based computer networks were "distributed," but lacked realtime chat. One tried to get as much bandwidth, or the fastest modem they could to make direct-to-direct modem connection to experience telecollaboration. Pictured here is Live shared-screen painting -- telecollaborative painting. A seminal metaphor for a traditional view of an artistic telecollaborative process. It soon becomes a trivial aspiration.

Telecollaborative Branepace Music - 1992: The brains of human beings in Freiburg and Santa Monica were connected together using the "Interactive Brainwave Visual Analyzer" (IDVA) and "Interactor" the midi computer interface program by Mark Coniglio. In an improvisation brain fugue participants in Freiburg, Germany and ECI-HQ Santa Monica, CA created music by locking into each other's brain patterns telephonically. Micky Remann in Freiburg, Germany.

Early '90's to 2000: Hundreds of events and showcases have taken place at ECI-HQ and the ECI Network of Friends & Affiliates. One of our favorite modes of networking was through the use of videoconferencing technology - a generally boring implication unless in the hands of a community of creative users. Pictured is Dave Blackburn (R), seated at the ECI "Cybertable." The person Dave is interviewing during the monthly ECI-VR SIG in actually in San Francisco!

Early '90's to 2000: As the capabilities of the internet began to move from online publishing and into more dynamic applications, ECI-HQ became the networks 'Blend'O Center" capable of mixing together a multitude of technologies and transmission schemes and then re-distribute the convergent mix back out to participants depending on their technical capabilities. Pictured is a 3-site music event consisting of ISDN-based videoconferencing and internet-based video CU-See-Me.

Early '90's on: Pictured in this 3-site music performance is David Rosenboom, Dean of the CalArts School of Music ECI-HQ, Santa Monica; Morton Subotnick, at "The Kitchen" (ECI-NYC Affiliate); Seina Vasulka in Santa Fe playing a MIDI violin which controlled laser videodisk players in both New York and Santa Monica. In each city there were two Yahama Disklavier pianos - one played by the local artist, the second one playing the notes activated by the pianist in the other city.

ECI-HQ, Santa Monica experimented with various online multiuser worlds, where participants could convene together as avatar characters and chat online. Pictured in this screen-shot is one of the many scenes with interactive props located within ECI's "Palace" world. This later version was established by Palace Mister Tod Foley, the wonderful graphic art was created by Hands Of Time founders Janice and Gery.

Using digital communications lines and digital codex the ECI Network was able to make a composite of musicians on different continents into the same image-space, with connection speeds fast enough to allow them to perform together in realtime. Pictured are musicians at ECI-HQ, Santa Monica, and ECI-Copenhagen. This became routine over the ECI Network, and in 1995 musicians in ten cities around the world participated in a three-day event. Both sites viewed the same image.

Telecollaborative Theatre (That works): Robert Ashley (L), and another performer is at "The Kitchen" (the ECI Network Affiliate in New York City). The woman in the red dress and Robert Ashley's son, in the white shirt, are at ECI-Santa Monica. As usual, the audiences in both cities see the same composite image projected alongside their respective local performers, or displayed in whatever way or technique is unique to the performative situation.

Deaf Poetry in the image space together: ECI-HQ began using ISDN technology with deaf kids and adults in 1992. In the event pictured here, the girl on the right is at ECI-HQ, Santa Monica, and everyone else is in Paris. This was a series of events with the same people in both cities so that skills would be developed. Here they are sharing deaf poetry, and stand-up comedy. Several ECI sites dedicated lots of time with signing including ECI-Japan, ECI-Paris, ECI-Copenhagen.

ECI-HQ began webcasting (streaming) live audio and video over the internet in 1996 as a way to augment experiences in 3D multiuser worlds. We chose to use a Java-based technology developed by Graham Technologies because it did not require that the viewer download and install anything - just go to our website, click, and view. ECI-HQ, Graham Technologies, and the LA-VR SIG demonstrated the first live video streaming on a screen in a 3D multiuser world.

ECI-DENMARK GOES TO SEA - 1992: Before relocating to its new home in Copenhagen, ECI-Denmark will spend the summer onboard the ship MF Kronberg. The ship is the Cultural Ambassador that will be traversing the waterways of Eastern Europe and sail the Atlantic Ocean to Lisbon, Portugal, promoting the fact that Copenhagen is the "Official Cultural City of Europe" in 1996. ECI is a well supported centerpiece and is located in the most forward part of the main deck. Satellite dished and ISDN connections link ECI-Denmark to ECI- Affiliates around the world.

As new and certainly unique ways emerge that enable people to co-inhabit electronic or virtual space, the ECI Network, and particularly ECI-HQ has attempted to merge them together when the opportunity arises. By combining constituencies representing themselves through live video representation, with representation of people/participants as avatars, with those manifest through typed text, or just old fashioned telephony, one begins to appreciate the attributes and limitations of all of these forms of representations, be it in a public/social space, and in a consensual private/intimate space.

"THE ENCOUNTER" - 1997: The first time a performer in a "motion capture" system, streamed live motion to a VRML avatar over the public internet. Dancer Mary Ann Daniel at the SGI booth at SIGGRAPH in downtown LA, was animating the avatar "Bliss" (R). In addition, Bliss/Mary Ann danced with Mona Jean Cedars (L), who was video rendered into the VRML-world at ECI-Santa Monica. The live hybrid compost-image was webcast back over the internet to Mary Ann using tunneling techniques and GTS webcasting technology so she could see Bliss and Mona Jean together. The performance included the passing of the Torch Of Media Superiority from the video avatar to the VRML avatar.

In 1998, ECI-Cofounder Kit Galloway created "ECI's Roadside Attractions," a 3D, navigatable, multiuser-world on the's Alpha World Server - among its many unique and celebrated applications of this technology is the Avatar Stage, where 3D caricatures representing participants from anywhere in the world appear live "On Stage," and perform to an international audience who are also represented in this live online world as avatars.

Showcased at SIGGRAPHS 99's WED-3D-ROUNDUP! 

Currently the ECI Co-Founders are attempting to preserve, and then publish online, a multimedia, relational database representative of the well-documented twenty-five years of telecollaborative networked art and human-to-human encounters they have been privileged to be a part of. When that is finished they hope that the cheap and abundant bandwidth they have been hearing about over the last quarter century will finally have arrived. Then we can start on reducing the network latency problems. Not until it's possible to have a synchronized global drumming circle is "the network" close to being EXCEPTIONALLY INTERESTING!

Electronic Cafe International's Online Living Archive

The overall objective is to rescue the physical ECI Archives from the ravages of time, digitize the analog recorded archives, and create an exemplary, showcase example of a relational database environment coupled to an online "living" multimedia archive. This online multimedia archives will be a dynamic environment accommodating contributions from its user community. freely accessible 

to scholars, art students, cyberculture studies, and the general public. We have augmented our cataloging schema while maintaining interoperability with other online digital archives, so that we can create deep and rich metadata for every item cataloged. This effort will pay off when cataloging complex systems-based art by enabling us to maintain "context" for every person, place, thing, and sub-system cataloged at the item level.

The immediate and most urgent need for assistance is to rescue the essentials from the first twenty years in the recorded media collection (1971-1991). The endangered media types include video ('71-'91); optical media (early '80's to early '90's); computer data on backup cartridges (early '80's to early '90's); and a wide variety of other analog and digital storage media types.

ECI is the permanent tele-arts venue and repository for the networked telecollaboration art and related activities that took place here weekly from 1987 to 2000. ECI is also a contiguous part of a body of networked telecollaboration art work that took place between 1975 to 2000.

ECI holds thousands of hours of video, digitally stored media, and a large collection of original art, artifacts, print documentation, original artwork, schematics, physical and virtual architecture plans, drawings, written documentation, photographs, navigable online worlds, computer graphics, equipment, and three-dimensional objects.

The historic importance of the archive has been affirmed by receiving a Getty Grant in 1999 that provided funding to conduct a year long study on the challenges the ECI Archive poses to conventional cataloging methodologies, media preservation, and online access to multimedia archives.

The ECI Archives traces the beginnings and evolution of artistic applications of regional and global telecollaborations from the Analog Age to the present and current Internet Age. Because of the time-span covered by the archives, it provides a dynamic view and rediscovery of the attributes of a wide variety of past and present telecollaborative technologies. The archives contains many of what are considered to be the seminal "classics" in tele-collaborative, tele-immersive, and networked art.



Some of the more important people and organizations that have been a part of ECI-HQ:
  • ECI-PARIS: Eleonore Rueff 
  • ECI-TORONTO: Grahama Smith & Jeff Mann 
  • ECI-RIO: Marcello Dantas 
  • ECI-TOKYO: Masami Kikuchi <[email protected]
  • ECI-JERUSALEM: Maxine & Eli BenMeir <[email protected]
  • ECI-COPENHAGEN: Michael Franch Nielsen, Michael Hagenau Kaster, & Morten Teisner 
  • ECI @ The Kitchen 
  • Henry Dakin's 3220 Gallery, San Francisco. (ECI Network Friend & Affiliate) 
Byron Wagner 
Carole Sumler
Carolyn Cavalier
Celia Pearce
Dave Blackburn
Elliott & Shirley Gold
Gene Youngblood
Howard Besser
Jeannine Parker
Mark Coniglio
Matt & John Graham
Mona Jean Cedars
Pascal Baudar
Richard Zvonar
Roy Walford
Sanford Rosenberg
Steve Arbuss
Susanna (Sue)Dakin 
Tod Foley
Tony Cappli
18TH Street Arts Complex
Graham Technologies Solutions (GTS)
Interval Research (RIP)
Nervous Gerbil Productions
PictureTel Corporation
Silicon Graphics
The LA VR & VRML Users Group/s (RIP)

Electronic Cafe International
[email protected]

"Electronic Cafe", "Electronic Cafe International", ECI logo, domains and URLs
are trademarks of Kit Galloway & Sherrie Rabinowitz.
1995 through 2024 Kit Galloway & Sherrie Rabinowitz. All Rights Reserved