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PARIP 2005

International Conference | 29 June - 03 July 2005

Pearson: Mike | UK

Workshop abstract:

‘Zero minus One: The appropriation of existing and emerging technologies and their influence on performance practice’


Teresa Dillon, polar produce, Bristol UK (chair)

Professor Mike Pearson, The University of Wales, Aberystwyth

John Dovey, University of Bristol

Maria X, Goldsmith College, University of London

Zoe Laughlin, Goldsmith College, University of London

Conference Programme Abstract:

The relationship between performance and technology can be traced back to the origins of human communication and interaction. Within the field of theatre, performance and live art, many practitioners have explored this relationship, using technology as a tool, to play with our perceptions and reflect on our lives (e.g., Fluxus, ‘body artists’ such as Acconci; experimental theatre companies such as the Wooster Group and the works of Wilson and Lepage). Alongside this, cyber-oriented artists such as Orlan and Sterlarc have extended this work by actively creating an ongoing performative dialogue between corporality and cybernetics. In further developing the visceral body through the use of technical and digital tools, Orlan and Sterlarc re-examined the mutuality between the individual, the sociocultural and the biological. New emerging technologies continually challenge this triad. Pervasive platforms such as mobile telephony, locative media and massively multiple online game (MMOG) technologies, provide new performative forms and experiences. Consequently our notions of the spaces and places around, through and within which performance occurs are persistently pushed as virtual, parallel timelines become everyday practices. Alongside these openings, the role of the ‘audience’ continually shifts as they become actively involved, even co-participants within the performance.

As contemporary practitioners working in this field we persistently struggle to adequately articulate our practices and theoretical locate our work. In attempting to explore the different theoretical perspectives emerging within this field, this workshop brings together practitioners in the field of digital performance. Common across our practice is the appropriation and redesigning of existing and emerging technologies for performative purposes. From a theoretical perspective we draw on sociocultural psychological theory; cultural, film and new media theory; cyber theory, robotics and anthropology.

In order to adequately discuss this area, we have chosen the workshop format as a means through which to explore key research questions. Each participant will present their perspective, from which an open discussion with those attending will follow. Our discussions will be augmented with extracts for our work in this area. The open discussion format will explore in more detail convergences, divergences, connections and slippages within this field. The aim of the workshop is to distil a set of methodological principles, which we consider best articulates our practice and future trends within this area. The workshop will specifically address the following questions:

  1. How are new emerging technologies (virtual, haptic, tangible, mobile technologies, robotics) incorporated into performance and how do they reorganise and reconstruct our notion of performance and performativity?
  2. What kinds of terminology and methodologies are useful for discussing the design of new techno-performative tools and how does their design relate to existing approaches within other disciplines?
  3. How does the appropriation and creation of new techno-performative tools extend the performers’ body and mediate or signify their intentions?
  4. How do techno-performative tools change the spatial and temporal dimensionality of the performance – what kinds of experiences do they afford and constrain?
  5. Within new digital performances what kinds of relationships and transactions emerge e.g. audience and or performer as spectator, witness, collaborators etc?


Session abstract:

'Who are you looking at?'

Mike Pearson and Mike Brookes

Since 2001 Pearson/Brookes has created a series of multi-site performance works, including Carrying Lyn (Cardiff, 2001), Polis (Cardiff, 2001), Metropolitan Motions (Frankfurt, 2002) and There's someone in the house (Exeter, 2004). 

Within these works actions are staged at dispersed locations in the urban environment - often within the public domain - and recorded on low grade technology: tapes and discs are then returned immediately to a venue now rendered porous. Here the record of what happened ‘out there, ‘just now’ is assembled, ordered dramaturgically and replayed.

The works pose a number of questions. As each performance is generated in a number of places, often simultaneously, is co-presence any longer a useful definition of performance? Where is this performance actually happening? And is the feedback loop of action/response/ readjustment any longer an essential feature of performance? How many audiences are there here?

The document has repositioned itself within the performance rather than being a ‘post-event’ phenomenon. Is the audience already watching a document? And as the work remains resolutely analogue - transporting physical objects that then have to be rewound/lined up - time itself is troubled. When did this happen?

Mike Pearson and Mike Brookes present an overview of the series and the issues it raises - not least of distinctions between professional practice and scholarly practice in the field of ‘practice-as-research’.

They introduce developing DVD-ROM work, created by Mike Brookes, presenting strategies through which he is attempting to appropriately reconstitute the material of these events – within the form and limits of this alternative media - whilst embodying the original propositions of that material. The intention being to allow a direct encounter with the work - its structure, accumulation and consequences - rather than to reproduce any particular view of the physical and ambient constructs on which that encounter originally stood.

Mike Pearson/Mike Brookes


Mike Pearson +

Mike Brookes










































































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