Theatre, networked performance, and notions of ‘democratised’ spectatorship

Hadley, Bree (2015) Theatre, networked performance, and notions of ‘democratised’ spectatorship. In Fluid States North - PSi #21 Fluid States: Performances of UnKnowing, 18-21 June 2015, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. (Unpublished)

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The potential to cultivate new relationships with spectators has long been cited as a primary motivator for those using digital technologies to construct networked or telematics performances or para-performance encounters in which performers and spectators come together in virtual – or at least virtually augmented – spaces and places. Today, with Web 2.0 technologies such as social media platforms becoming increasingly ubiquitous, and increasingly easy to use, more and more theatre makers are developing digitally mediated relationships with spectators. Sometimes for the purpose of an aesthetic encounter, sometimes for critical encounter, or sometimes as part of an audience politicisation, development or engagement agenda. Sometimes because this is genuinely an interest, and sometimes because spectators or funding bodies expect at least some engagement via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. In this paper, I examine peculiarities and paradoxes emerging in some of these efforts to engage spectators via networked performance or para-performance encounters. I use examples ranging from theatre, to performance art, to political activism – from ‘cyberformaces’ on Helen Varley Jamieson’s Upstage Avatar Performance Platform, to Wafaa Bilal’s Domestic Tension installation where spectators around the world could use a webcam in a chat room to target him with paintballs while he was in residence in a living room set up in a gallery for a week, as a comment on use of drone technology in war, to Liz Crow’s Bedding Out where she invited people to physically and virtually join her in her bedroom to discuss the impact of an anti-disabled austerity politics emerging in her country, to Dislife’s use of holograms of disabled people popping up in disabled parking spaces when able bodied drivers attempted to pull into them, amongst others. I note the frequency with which these performance practices deploy discourses of democratisation, participation, power and agency to argue that these technologies assist in positioning spectators as co-creators actively engaged in the evolution of a performance (and, in politicised pieces that point to racism, sexism, or ableism, pushing spectators to reflect on their agency in that dramatic or daily-cum-dramatic performance of prejudice). I investigate how a range of issues – from the scenographic challenges in deploying networked technologies for both participant and bystander audiences others have already noted, to the siloisation of aesthetic, critical and audience activation activities on networked technologies, to conventionalised dramaturgies of response informed by power, politics and impression management that play out in online as much as offline performances, to the high personal, social and professional stakes involved in participating in a form where spectators responses are almost always documented, recorded and re-represented to secondary and tertiary sets of spectators via the circulation into new networks social media platforms so readily facilitate – complicate discourses of democratic co-creativity associated with networked performance and para-performance activities.

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ID Code: 95148
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Theatre, Social Media, Telematics
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Drama Theatre and Performance Studies (190404)
Divisions: Past > Schools > Drama
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Bree Hadley
Deposited On: 26 Apr 2016 01:20
Last Modified: 01 May 2016 04:30

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