Reddit Birthday (2012)

Interactive Performance Fall 2011

Full Description

On September 27th “Reddit Birthday” was held in a Manhattan production studio. This piece was a virtual birthday party in honor of my one-year reddit birthday. According to reddit itself, reddit is “a source for what’s new and popular on the web,” and its strength derives from its strong community. Many reddit users celebrate their “reddit birthdays” as the anniversary of the date you created your reddit account. Many Redditors choose to create and post something in honor of that “birthday.”

For my Reddit Birthday, I hosted a real-life party in New York City, and an interactive birthday party online. Redditors and friends were invited to celebrate with me. I posted Skype links to six computers that were at my birthday table. The guests who attend my virtual birthday party were able to join these video chats and be part of the celebration. Each guest, in real life or online, received reddit gold, an extended set of features that is available on reddit for a small fee. Reddit Birthday is a well-choreographed performance streamed live on Ustream for everyone to enjoy. As guests signed in and out of the party via Skype, my team of stage hands opened new chats, took party photos (or screen shots), and kept track of guests so I could distribute party favors. Invitations with specifics were posted on reddit the week of the party.

The significance of the birthday party was an experiment in public and private self and also a question of technology and human interaction. With the invention and accessibility of computers to the general public new issues in social interactions arise. Social media though a revolutionary way to connect people also limits personal contact. The ease of online chatting and profile comments allows people to connect and share images instantly but also causes social awkwardness with a lack of real contact. Reddit Birthday is a juxtoposition of real world and virtual interaction and allows the viewer to decide if new technology is a social revolution or disorder.

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