ZOOM ME IN – an online improvisation journal

17 March 2020


this is how it all started, with a WHATSAPP to a our performance group thread started at the Royal College of Art …

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18 March 2020

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20 MARCH 2020


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(hard to imagine this question today)



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20 MARCH 2020 – first reactions

I can’t express more my joy at this new form. I have been hating the rectangle of my computer for the last few months, and suddenly the constraint, in the impros on ZOOM is fun and exciting, and wildly wonderful.

We started and we copied, we moved and we copied. We did whatever we felt like. We disappeared offsides, we played small and we played big.

WE PLAYED with edges.

We were happy, and not worried. We just did it and then it was over. We need a category for it on impro.wiki.com.

23 MARCH 2020

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24 MARCH 2020


Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 14.56.27We are zooming into cadences of cadres and squares, the larger we are, the less we are surrounded, at least in that zooom room of 2 or more, 40 or less, for a half hour or more, and then the meeting has ended because its supposed to, but sometimes zoom goes out on a coffee break, and does not cut us off after 40 minutes, but I promised you all that the meeting would only be for forty minutes and here we are at an hour and I am tired and I want lunch, and why do we have to improviseanyway. At first, we were were so damn busy producing and watching and seeing what we could create. Now we are watching the other and slowing down.


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26 MARCH 2020

Discovered Virtual Backgrounds. Ah.  Since my OS system is too old for whatever standards, or I don’t have a green screen but I do have an orange sweater, my virtual background is a virtual foreground that I can sometimes capture on my body and my glasses.

31 MARCH 2020

We were two today, just two, I was static, sitting in a chair facing my ZOOM on another chair and Anne was walking through her village in France, investigating, stopping to look at stones, moss, keyholes, paint chips, dirt, rocks.  Always down, her camera facing down.  I just changed position, changed costumes but moved only a little.  Eventually my plants took over the watch, they seemed better adapted.  (we had not yet discovered virtual backgrounds).


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Anne Marion-Gallois and Catharine Cary


2 APRIL 2020

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So we started not planning ahead, we improvised with a half hour notice.  People had been a bit overwhelmed by the big one with 16 people.  You couldn’t see what was going on, there was information overload.  At one point, someone put up a handwritten HELP! sign ! So interest kind of waned after that.  So I started doing this, and then starting making dates with one other person, and then posting a half hour before that we would be in the zoom room.

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ania sabet and catharine cary

We started to realize we all had different views, side by side, not the same side by side, big image for one, little image for the other or other, realized the yellow green outline meant, baby, you had the audio floor.

Copying each other today proved to be incredibly satisfying, I felt like I was tracking a wild beast, Lipstick, ok lipstick, red, ok red, coat off, ok coat off, thing on head, ok thing on head, I will subdue you. We finished in giggles.

05 APRIL 2020

Invited by Anat Ben-David and Alexandra Murray-Leslie to participate in a Sunday improvisation jam.  Get the email well entitled “today lockdown impro” well after it’s started and decide to try anyway.  Join for the last 10 minutes, cut slices of fresh oatmeal honey bread in mid air.  Bitten by level 3, visuals, two cameras, shared writing boards, colors.


09 APRIL 2020

Nobody shows up, so me and ZOOM.  OK.


Catharine Cary


12 APRIL 2020

2nd lockdown improvisation, familiar faces.  Give everyone the possibility of sharing the screen, but the shared drawing predominates, too bad, I want color yet I start taking screen shots of the drawing and using them as virtual backgrounds on my zoom square.  Then I get really into drawing sheer fabrics and ribbons over the camera slowly.  I realize I work in analog and most of everyone else is working in digital, but the effects are the same.  I start to see the signature of each person.  The contrast makes for goodness.  It’s a hour, a good hour, a really good hour.

13 APRIL 2020

WHAT IIIF? BERLIN, the fourth edition of a festival that asked the absurd question, “Can improvisation be documented?” is cancelled.  Strong from my experience with PerformanceWorkshopi9, we decide to create an online festival called WHAT IIIF? Nowhere and Everywhere, with one fixed time per week and IMPROMPTUS that can just appear at any time from anyone.  We are zoom experts now – you can enter the room with me the host, and we can keep the same ID for every time we meet.


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14 APRIL 2020

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-15 at 13.19.05anat ben-david and catharine cary

Realized “having the audio floor” was not so good so corporate only one person can speak or squeak at the same time, but we couldn’t mix sounds, the sounds were too polite and waited for the othe sound to stop speaking.  We dominated, we didn’t coalesce. Do you  hear what I hear, do you hear what you hear, do we hear differently, in the space, through zoom, where is the sound? Are we here?  Is this us or a facsimile of us?

We record to try to understand.

History comes along…

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15 APRIL 2020

We are 6 in 5 rooms.  We make a lot more music here than elsewhere.  We are damn happy.  We set a research intention (it is a research festival after all) and do an after session AFTERWORDS/AFTERDRAW to set into words and squiggles what we learned.

I learn about keeping ORIGINAL SOUND on.

Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 15.41.26Thomas Johannsen, Reinhard Gagel, Maria Sappho, Henry McPherson, Marianthi Michailidou, Catharine Cary

16 APRIL 2020

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-16 at 20.03.52clara perada and catharine cary

We are both saddened by a first close death from COVID.  So we danced for Laeticia and for Adam.  2 HOURS, 2 people, quiet, slow, easy, responsive.  Partial bodies, bodies at rest, bodies looking.  Not one scrap of hurry.  After an hour, we melted to a chair or to a wall, and we slipped into meditation.  Once in a while I would glimpse to see if Clara was ready to stop, no movement.  I changed that day.  I stopped being responsible for the right thing to do, the proper end, well, ok, we have felt all we can feel today.  I let go.  I said to myself repeatedly, I will stay here meditating until she wants to stop.   I can stay here forever.    An hour later, a gentle patter of feet told me that we had finished, that the time had come.  I floated for two days on the pureness of that moment. ZOOM became ROOM.

19 APRIL 2020

3rd lockdown improv, now called corona improv.  We decide to have a moderator/DJ/VJ to pick and choose who gets their screen on big.  Immediately feels like, oops, someone’s watching now with a critical eye and this changes my game for a bit.  I suddenly feel in  in front of a public, even if its only of one.  I notice how I then can tend to produce, look for the laugh, the recognition, will she notice me? will she put me up in front?  I decide just to dance because that’s what I need this Sunday morning, and forget about it whether I’ll get picked for the volleyball team.

21 APRIL 2020

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22 APRIL 2020

WHAT IIIF? NOWHERE AND ANYWHERE take 2.  I like the calmness of it all, we are few, and we really push the listening, and we allow silences.  I let myself do nothing.  I realize that even if I think I am going slow, for this medium, it is still not slow enough.

We record and share.

23 APRIL 2020

All is well in Montreal, I find myself more and more meditative and improvisational. Somehow the medium of ZOOM works amazingly well for me, I like the containment of the rectangle I have to move in, and the focus of seeing everyone while looking in the same direction. For the first time, I find I can look at a video of what we have done, and not feel, ugh, look at me perform. I dare more.

24 APRIL 2020

We would like to use this weird and wonderful time to step up our existing and unexciting, but a good start, information exchange about improvisation to create an engaging interactive online environment for European improvisers from any discipline. An expandable networked universe for the art of improvisation – an online hub to reflect, show work, engage with other improvisers and with our audiences.
It feels urgent, because especially improvisers have a hard time re-imagining the way they can work in a world where physical proximity is prohibited or strongly reduced. We want to connect improvisers who are isolated due to the current circumstances and bring them together in a way that doesn’t try to mimic the subtlety of live interaction, but provides a different kind of experience: an online universe that can be navigated with an improviser’s mindset and connects ideas and people around this unique craft.
Before corona had built a world where certainty and predictability was the main concern, usually in an economic desire by governments to make policy for the largest common denominator and companies to sell large numbers of the same things to the the same people  Through policy, promotions, media, and entertainment, we had created societies that valued consistency, plans for future travel and rewards for telling everyone exactly what you like for breakfast every day.   Corona virus has shown the urgency for acting in the present, being in the moment, noticing what is going on, acting and not acting – the central tenants of improvisational techniques.  We need to share our techniques to a larger world, increase our capacity to intervene as improvisors, share best practices and diffuse tools to a larger public.

28 APRIL 2020

an IMPROMPTU and we are THREE. I delight in copying.  I delight in not looking at myself.  I delight in slamming doors.  I delight in the fact that we start without talking and ZOOM stops us and we “discapear” in ether air.  One moment three, next moment zero.


remnants on floor and in body and in mind.

Sometimes my house is a complete mess when I am finished.  I love it.

29 APRIL 2020

I am invited to an amazing class – it’s a Transdisciplinary AV Improvisation workshop responding to NOW, using the tools and locations of NOW.  Offered by Theatre of Making, invited by Anat Ben-David.  I learn that what we are doing has a name.  It’s called TELEMATICS and was the first sighting (siting) was by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, with two storefronts in 2 cities 3000 miles away, 2 video cameras and 2 TV screens.

I did my first durational performance on ZOOM.  The meeting is based in Europe time and I’m in Montreal.  So I used my virtual background, which on my computer is a foreground and turned on no  lights.  Over the next 5 hours, I appeared slowly, pushing through the colored mist of the background, as the sun slowly rose.  I’m sure no one noticed.

Telematics lost favor in the early naughts, but the virus has revived it.  A virus has revived a virus.  Glad I caught it.