MEDIA DESIGN PRACTICES ArtCenter College of Design FACULTY RESEARCHERS Ben Hooker and Jenny Rodenhouse GUEST ARTISTS, DESIGNERS, DIRECTORS Matt Adams, Jess Frucht, Cyrus Ghahremani, Rachel Kinnard, Sam Rolfes DESIGN RESEARCHERS Amor Bizarro, David J. Chan, Maxwell Chen, Adit Dhanushkodi, Keisuke Kuniyoshi, Miranda Jin, Jarret Lin, Nidhi Singh, Tongxin Sun WITH DESIGNERS Harsh Agarwal, Constantin Chopin, Pallavi Gautam, Karina J. Hernández, Lizzie Klein, Georgia Siapno, Evan Stalker WEBSITE DESIGNERS Ben Hooker, Jenny Rodenhouse, Georgia Siapno, Leo Yang CUCUMBER KOOL-AID ESSAY Jenny Rodenhouse EDITOR Katy Portier

LIVE-ISH is a digital publication of design research that explores how livestreaming media has crafted an emergent “livestyle;” a way of living within the world that has become increasingly influenced by our 24/7 screen-based interfaces. Developed as a media category in the 1990s, the term “lifestyle” was popularized by Martha Stewart books, magazines, tv shows, recipes, home decor, fashion, advice… Today we purchase “experiences”: all-encompassing 24/7 events (and everything within it) that are initiated by the screen. Experiences that are found, activated, watched, played, shared, tracked, favorited, followed, friended, and designed by “user experience” (UX) designers.

Started in Media Design Practices at ArtCenter College of Design, this digital publication documents one year of design investigations into our emerging, never-ending, unedited, entertaining, on camera, experience-obsessed “livestyles.” Our work includes a selection of our livestreaming projects: games-shows-exhibitions-bodies-events-experiences.


‍“Don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you are done,” someone recently carved into floating cucumbers at WeWork, an American company that provides co-working spaces for technology startups and most recently declared a loss of $1.3 billion (Jackson, 2016).

        In the US, water is accessible 24/7. Electricity is available 24/7. News is 24/7. Hospitals are open 24/7. Walmart is open 24/7. The internet is open 24/7. Netflix is open 24/7. World of Warcraft is open 24/7. Facebook is open 24/7. And now you can “livestream” yourself doing all of these things simultaneously, 24/7.

The phrase “24/7” was first used in the context of a game. In 1983, basketball player Jerry "Ice" Reynolds described his jump shot as being "good 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year." This description of elite gaming athleticism portrays a body that can defy expectations. At any moment it can leave the ground and throw itself into a voluntary free fall. Defying gravity, the body can momentarily let go of its earthly horizon line, float, and reorient itself towards a new focal point, a goal. We can achieve non-human illusions by surrendering to our fictions. Sports “open a space where we can imagine what might be possible if we were freed from the physical mechanisms that keep us in place” (Thomsen, 2019).

‍The Ascent of the Blessed (1505 and 1515) by Hieronymus Bosch.

Michael Jordan won the 1998 NBA Finals with a jump shot. Caught by thousands of cameras, his body is now held midair in popular culture 24 hours a day, recirculated seven days a week, and forever 365 days a year. Images of Jordan’s body have been featured in millions of Gatorade ads entitled “Be Like Mike.” These ads have rewired Americans to associate exceptional bodily achievement with fruit flavors like Citrus Cooler. An ad for Lipovitan D (a bright yellow liquid popular with sleepless Japanese executives) featured Arnold Schwarzenegger bursting into the air from a glass asking, “Can you fight for 24 hours a day?” Both Jordan and Schwarzenegger are memorialized through media, leaving the ground. Not proven to actually increase performance, consuming energy drinks is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles. And this is the very definition of a game.

Performance drinks are generally termed “isotonic” because they contain a similar amount of molecules to the body’s own fluids (in the region of 285-295 milliosmoles per kilogram), meaning they’re a similar thickness to your blood. As a result, they move across the gut wall into the bloodstream quickly.

An energy drink made by the Taisho Pharmaceutical Company.‍

First used in reference to a game in the 1980s, the 24/7 performance fantasy of “any day any time” has spread to become a cultural, political, and economic reality in the United States. The 24/7 myth has since been seized by capitalism, exported through globalism, and magnified to become an Americanism, a nationalist symbol for the world’s most convenience-oriented society. No longer just a saying, 24/7 has become a lifestyle, or livestyle, amplified through our always-on screens: new exemplary models of extraordinary performance, never ending beta programs, and constant background updates.

Big data and artificial intelligence representation through vector image.

An expression of extreme dedication, 24/7 has come to represent a desired goal that provides us with a strong point of orientation and alignment. The body physically, psychologically, and emotionally tunes itself to it. It becomes something we believe in, something we need to stay alive, something we simply cannot live without, and something that makes us want to discard the weight of our human forms, leaving the earth’s surface behind.

Submerged in citrus green, the contradictory 24/7 lifestyle is best represented by a constant stream of both a cool, zen-like fruit that fights dark under-eye circles and a lemon-lime liquid that maximizes extreme GPU performance. We’ve fallen hard for the labor of self-optimization. And with optimized exhaustion comes hard-core relaxation—the new digital leisure class #sleep.

‍Apple recently released a new ad for the iPhone XR featuring the model’s long-lasting battery life (our idealized body type). Titled “Up Late,” the video plays Julie Andrews’s “Stay Awake,” taken from the soundtrack to Mary Poppins, and it shows people falling asleep while on their iPhone. There’s a parking attendant streaming a football game and a woman playing a game with the tagline, “You’ll lose power before your iPhone XR will.” In June, Apple recalled "a limited number of older generation 15-inch MacBook Pro units," that were sold primarily between September 2015 and February 2017. The company said in its recall notice to customers that the laptops have a battery that could "overheat and pose a fire safety risk."

At Amazon, “power hours are when managers try to pump up warehouse workers to work even harder for 60 minutes, sometimes motivating them by saying workers in other departments have been talking smack or outperforming them. At the end of the hour, staff members can be rewarded with ‘swag bucks’ or prizes… a kind of company currency that can be spent only inside Amazon. The incentives are designed to further increase productivity… ‘It's like doing 11 1/2 hours of cardio five days a week... You're going up and down stairs, squatting down, getting on your knees, getting back up,’... when he reported to AmCare, Amazon's onsite first-aid department, to request to leave his shift early, he was given an electrolyte-rich popsicle and told to get back to work” (Hamilton, 2019).

“We all deserve a bit of vacation time every once in a while, wouldn’t you agree? After all, the stress of every day can easily get to us. Even if you don’t have time to go on a trip, it’s nice to just relax and do your own thing. If that resonates with you, be sure to check out this Snapchat lens. With it, you’ll be able to enjoy your own little facial—and by that I mean a face mask and two slices of cucumber. Surely, everyone knows how nice that feels? All you have to do is pose in front of your selfie camera” (, 2019).


“During the transition from the agricultural society to the industrial society the body was reconstructed through military-style discipline, the body reconstruction during the transition from the industrial society to the information society takes a play form. The new gaming generation is reconstructing their bodies into new digital blue-collar workers without even realizing it” (Jungkwon, 2019).

“In Korea, the big food fad is eating shows, or mukbang. Korean viewers are so glued to watching strangers binge eating that the live-streamers consuming calories in front of webcams are becoming minor celebrities in Korean culture. The demands on Ahn and other mukbang stars like her are high — she can't just eat, she must eat ferociously. As she devours noodles, loud slurping is a must. Audiences offer feedback on a live stream, asking how spicy the noodles are, suggesting she move dumplings closer to the camera or do a dance in excitement… At dinnertime hours, 45,000 Korean viewers watch mukbang at the same time… For Ahn, she explains that her mostly female fan base gets to eat vicariously through her. ‘Viewers who watch my mukbang are on a diet,’ she says. ‘So you call this a sort of gratification through others’… ‘Eating is something one activity that is strongly identified as being natural, and spontaneous,’ Kim says. ‘You think about K-pop or K-drama [and] they're very artificial, they're all about makeup and plastic surgeries. And a lot of people find this — mukbang — to be the exact opposite of all the things right now Korean popular culture really stands for’" (Hu, 2015).

        Streaming, the most popular form of information delivery today, is a method of transmitting and receiving data over a computer network at a steady, continuous flow. Most commonly affiliated with Netflix, streaming runs on a global infrastructure of wires. Cutting across oceans, high-bandwidth broadband cables have enabled digital services to add livestreaming to their networks. Increasing our data transfer scale and speed from 56 kbps dial-up, to playing 10 gigabits per second results, to streaming instantly. Everything is accessible, consumable, streamable, and at our demand 24/7 (Finley, 2019). As soon as we think of it, we can have it—#FOMO capitalism. These new connection speeds give us a strange feeling that we own everything and nothing. 

Moving away from models of refreshed algorithmically tuned newsfeeds, asynchronous posting traffic, curated images, and character limits, social networks are opening the door to a 24/7 livestream of free crowdsourced content. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Twitch are now synchronously combining real-time content with a live audience, shifting our moment-to-moment capturing and consumption to the now, the real-time. No editing, no posting, no repeats, and no reliving for later.

Livestreaming services encourage an always “on” behavior, tethering the service, the broadcaster, and the viewers together for the entirety of the stream, exchanging information back and forth to one another, and disintegrating the line between the person’s life and the digital business platform. Once a niche hobby, it is now a form of mainstream entertainment through livestreaming platforms like Twitch where thousands of people watch their favorite players compete. The most popular genre is Electronic sports (eSports), an organized gaming circuit where teams compete by playing video games and audiences watch massive multiplayer online role-playing games where competitors wander through endless, open virtual worlds. The games can last anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes, which is the length of most television shows today. Li Xiaofeng, also known as “Sky” in the strategy game Warcraft III, is a celebrity known for his tower building and monster slaying. He carried the flame during China’s 2008 Olympics.

Esport competitions take over stadiums, displaying game play on megatrons. The average salary of a player is $320,000 a year in the North American League of Legends Championship Series.

        “Fair game” is someone or something that is considered an acceptable target to be chased, attacked, or criticized. Livestreaming rewards those who literally live in front of the screen (Antley, 2019). And when broadband is cheap and accessible 24/7, everything is streamable. From your house, you can livestream ordering a cucumber Kool-Aid off GrubHub, have it delivered to your favorite livestreamer via PostMates, and watch them drink it live on Twitch. The extreme immediacy gives us the impression that we own the Kool-Aid, that moment in the show, and also the Twitch streamer.

A livestream takes form through what is put in front of the camera. Adding layers of interactivity, the form mutates based on audience chat, competitive game mechanics, and payment through digital economies. The food you eat, your bedroom poster hanging in the background, the shirt you are wearing, your body, your voice, your personality, your partner, and your home suddenly becomes an interactive public display arranged for strangers to gather around. A streamer known as Ice Poseidon who makes his living as a 24/7 broadcaster once had fans demand he split up with his girlfriend, and he did (Chen, 2019). You and your in-frame surroundings become fixtures for the public to commune and interact with, giving a false sense of ownership. The global 24/7 audience pressures made Ice Poseidon not leave his house for two weeks, an extreme display of bodily endurance.

Pride in physical performance is a deep-seated feature of human nature. Sports were invented to facilitate the display of physical skills, and livestreaming helps eSports athletes display their work to a wide audience (Papineau, 2019). The history of sports has been for so long about self-imposed suffering in order to discover, break, and escape our own inadequacies (Thomsen, 2019). And as we escape them, as our bodies become more honed, expressing excellence within the gaming world, we see that suddenly the rules in the world have the ability to change. In front of the camera and behind the screen, we have become a commodity and the home a factory.

‍Still from Jovan stream titled, THIS TIME ITS PERSONAL SAGA OF LOST WALLET, HOW GAY I AM, AND SKINNY BROCKHAMPTON. A cathedral … his face a stained glass window. “Electronic media have created new situations and destroyed old ones. One of the reasons many Americans may no longer seem to ‘know their place’ is that they no longer have a place in the traditional sense of a set of behaviors matched to physical locations and the audience found in them… New media transform[s] the home and other social spheres into new social environments with new patterns of social action, feeling, and belief… Media are not simply channels for conveying information between two or more environments, but rather environments in and of themselves” (Meyrowitz, 1985).

Streamers embrace broadcasting as a type of communal lifestyle, a giving and taking of attention. Earning a successful living from the opulence of endless GHz, streamers have inevitably developed popular tropes, exhibiting portions of their body in front of spectacles of crisis (in game or in real life). The public loves drama. “What do you want me to talk about?” Jovan Hill (@ehjovan) broadcasts his self care, his bipolar disorder, the water he drinks, his favorite pot, how much money he has in his bank account, and whether or not he should dye his hair, earning himself enough money to maintain a life in New York City (Vilensky, 2018). If Jovan’s audience of 200,000 followers want to watch him with a “nicer” background, they simply give him more money to move into a more expensive apartment. “The only reason I wake up and go to work everyday is so I can give @ehjovan money for rent,” tweeted Paige Wolfe (Vilensky, 2018). Like a light, Hill’s face became a fixture in people’s homes, reflecting and celebrating each other's mutual exhaustion, boredom, and number-based achievements. What seems impractical, the watching of everyday everythings, echoes a long human tradition of staring into windows, paintings, and televisions. We watch versions of ourselves reflected in the glass, vicariously living through the projected outside world and in the comment stream. We like this transcendence, drifting outside of our bodies and into other homes.

‍Still life of a still life by Vermeer. “Linear perspective creates the illusion of a quasi-natural view to the ‘outside,’ as if the image plane was a window opening onto the ‘real’ world. This is also the literal meaning of the Latin perspectiva: to see through” (Hito, 2011).

Livestreaming punches holes into one another’s living spaces and abuts our homes together. (Tabor, 1994). A type of communal lifestyle, livestreams create a shared living space out of digital domains (Stamm, 2019). As we reside around one stream, we are exposed to one another’s identities, reinforcing or augmenting our own. With livestreaming’s two-way access, viewing the outside world from the home, and now the outside world viewing into the home, we not only perform for our reflection but what people want to see. Audiences determine what they like through views, likes, and comments, essentially curating a broadcaster’s life. Livestreamers, like home decor or a painting of a still life on your wall, are commodities. People’s favorite broadcast vj’s can become permanent fixtures on their walls, eating and shopping through this person. Do they match your living room decor? Your drapes? The version of yourself that has become physicalized within your protected space? Transactional friendships, relationships, co-workers, roommates, dinner guests: livestreaming proposes humans as a decorative fixtures. They are always there 24/7, being paid in views, digital points, or in real currency. In opposition to algorithmically tailored personalized feeds, a community of people all seeing the same thing at the same time feels like a more intimate and rarified commodity today.

The Arnolfini Portrait is a 1434 oil painting on oak panel by the Early Netherlandish painter Jan van Eyck. It is a full-length double portrait, believed to depict the wealthy Italian merchant Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife in their home in the Flemish city of Bruges.

“Perversely, the rise of wearables, ubiquitous GPS, and smart home devices mean that our own bodies begin to take on a similar ontological status as mystifying and untethered data-producing machines. As we move, pulse, secrete, and communicate we emit a steady stream of data that can be tracked, extracted, and sent elsewhere” (Pendergrast, 2019). At the 2018 Paris Fashion Week, Off-White’s Virgil Abloh collaborated with Nike to create clothes that could “perform”. Athleisure gives the impression you might always be coming or going to a workout. “The modern fixation on healthy appearance has made yoga pants an effective vector for ‘conspicuous consumption,’ Thorstein Veblen’s term for products that confer status—like ‘extremely healthy person’— upon their owners. Finally, the blurring of yoga-studio fashion and office attire snaps into the long decline of formality in American fashion… The theme of the past century of Western fashion is this: We take clothes designed for activity, and we adapt them for inactivity. And that’s true beyond the world of sports. For decades, Levi Strauss jeans were worn mostly by men working in factories and farms; today, denim is for loungers. Wristwatches were pioneered in World War I to keep soldiers punctual; today, we embrace them as peacetime jewelry” (Thompson, 2018).

We eat with our eyes. We can look towards livestreaming as a clear representation of our cultural pressures and desires. “Today the whole of society is a factory. We all participate in the creation and recreation of the brands, norms and institutions that surround us. At the same time the communication grids vital for everyday work and profit are buzzing with shared knowledge and discontent. Today it is the network—like the workshop 200 years ago—that they ‘cannot silence or disperse’” (Mason, 2015).

Livestream audiences informally hang out together to watch, discuss, and give payments to their favorite unedited streams. The cooperative living and peer-to-peer economies operate much like the parallel gaming worlds we observe many of them playing, a postcapitalist world that self-manages currency, class system, and cooperative spaces (Mason, 2015). Finding a home among viewers, the 24/7 peer-to-service is a work-around to traditional job markets, regular salary, consistent health care, social relationships, ad models, and basic public services that American citizenship once guaranteed. Livestreaming is a form of self care. What was once guaranteed by the United States now hangs in the balance with comunal peer-to-peer systems. These systems remove responsibility from corporate software manufacturers and place it on the individual to entertain guests 24/7 in order to survive.

China recently banned live streams of people “seductively eating bananas.”  "How do they decide what's provocative when eating a banana?...asked one user on Weibo, the country's Twitter-Facebook hybrid. Another reportedly added that if the ban on bananas is enforced, streamers will just "start eating cucumbers..." (Vincent, 2016).


‍“Egyptians could metaphorically engage with the afterlife without the inconvenience of dying” (Gabrielle, 2019).

        “Scrum” describes a very elaborate formation of human bodies in an interlocked huddle. Used within rugby, teams push against one another, held in tension while a ball is thrown into the middle. An artificial conflict, scrum is a rule within a game. A rule of a game should only apply to the conditions of that world and never seep out (Gabrielle, 2019).

At the Agile 2008 Conference, Jeff Sutherland presented a case of reaching hyper-productivity using a process called Scrum, also known as "move fast and break things."

The word scrum originates from scrimmage, which means a confused struggle or fight. Large software and game companies use a design process called Scrum. A software development methodology built upon speed, scrum is responsible for most of our digital experiences produced today. It is meant to be intensive, exhausting, fast, and short (ie. cheap). It is an artificial conflict, a pain that has systematically crept into our screens. Pain is one of the first games we learn to play (Thomsen, 2019).

Twitch is one of the leading streaming platforms known for broadcasting competitive video game play. It is also owned by Amazon. An intensely data-driven company, Amazon recently experimented with turning repetitive warehouse work into something more “fun” by using game mechanics to reward employees with “points, virtual badges and other goodies throughout a shift” (Gabrielle, 2019). The warehouse beta test draws instant comparisons to their livestreaming service, where Twitch “viewer counts and ad metrics are the means of separating amateurs from professionals... putting unrelenting pressure on streamers to take on increasing emotional, physical, and technical labor in the pursuit of numbers... mastering this game within a game” (Bensinger, 2019).

Amazon recently announced new additions to their warehouse workforce, a new tool that featured simple games with names like PicksInSpace, Mission Racer, and CastleCrafter. “Their physical actions, assembling orders and moving items, are translated into virtual in-game moves. So, the faster someone picks items and places them in a box, for example, the faster their car will move around a virtual track” (Vincent, 2019). “According to Marx, production progresses leaps and bounds when labor is voluntary rather than forced. With this freedom, humans create with sincerity and desire, and not out of materialistic necessity. That the attempt to turn labor into play was first made in a socialist society is not a historical coincidence. In the Soviet Union, for instance, group and individual competitions would be held and a medal awarded to the winner as a way to instill in workers the will to produce. This ‘hero of effort’ game is an example of socialist gamification devised as a noncapitalist compensation system that rewards work with fun and honor rather than material. It is also in accordance with the socialist ideology that denies the desire to possess. But this is, of course, just a mobilization of labor, far from creativity that is truly free from material needs” (Jungkwon, 2019).

A spoilsport, defined in the book Homo Ludens (1938) by the Dutch cultural historian Johan Huizinga, is someone who robs play of its illusion. Analogous to cheaters in a game, spoilsports are players who step outside the illusion of the gaming narrative to win by whatever means they like. Freed from the tyranny of pain, they are privileged to ignore the obstacles that others must anguish over (Thomsen, 2019).

        In the event of catastrophic disaster, some 24/7 services prepare entirely redundant, parallel infrastructures, often in other geographic regions. These alternate worlds act as simulations, mirroring real life. Microsoft recently launched “DeLorean,” a cloud gaming system that can predict a player’s next move. Referencing the DeLorean time machine, a fictional automobile-based time travel vehicle device featured in the Back to the Future films, DeLorean is a deep learning algorithm that can anticipate and adapt to seemingly unpredictable player actions. Typically, in large open-world games, player goals are "hidden" from the system and have to be inferred through predefined parameters. Using "goal recognition," an approach to player modeling, Delorean dynamically predicts a player's goals by playing out multiple simulated scenarios all at the same time. When the player finally decides what action to take, the game’s frames are ready, sending in enemies or adjusting the game’s difficulty. Our play can now be copied, predicted, and beat, if DeLorean is so inclined. We are moving from real-time rendering to the pre-emptive.

Accelerating Human Reaction uses electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to enable preemptive force-feedback systems and speed up human reaction time. The system can anticipate, moving the user faster than usual in order to complete the task.

We’ve surrendered to our fictions. Through the screen, we have made ourselves portable, copyable, predictable, cheap, and therefore expendable. A streamer known as Oddler fell asleep during a Resident Evil marathon broadcast #LivestreamFail. Thousands watched him sleeping, an intimate portrait of a limp body aglow in front of their desktop computer and an audience of thousands — a cyclical life source of excitement and exhaustion. The hashtag #ResidentSleeper now refers to this event. It means something so boring it causes viewers to fall asleep. Now that we are free from the physical mechanisms that keep us in place, the best thing we can do is follow our new digital celebrities, our new leisure class, our models of success, and resign, lay down, and fall... asleep.

“As you are falling your sense of orientation may start to play additional tricks on you. The horizon quivers in a maze of collapsing lines and you may lose any sense of above and below, of before and after, of yourself and your boundaries. Pilots have even reported that free fall can trigger a feeling of confusion between the self and the aircraft. While falling, people may sense themselves as being things, while things may sense that they are people. Traditional modes of seeing and feeling are shattered. Any sense of balance is disrupted. Perspectives are twisted and multiplied. New types of visuality arise” (Steyerl, 2011).

"He slept like a lamb. A lamb was a young animal which was legendary for sleeping well on the planet Earth" (Vonnegut, 1973).


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