Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture addresses what may be the single most important question facing all kinds of performance today. What is the status of live performance in a culture dominated by mass media? Since its first appearance, Philip Auslander's ground-breaking book has helped to reconfigure a new area of study. Looking at specific instances of live performance such as theatre, rock music, sport, and courtroom testimony, Liveness offers penetrating insights into media culture, suggesting that media technology has encroached on live events to the point where many are hardly live at all. In this new edition, the author thoroughly updates his provocative argument to take into account new digital and media technologies, and cultural, social and legal developments.
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Auslander opens by comparing theatre and media, referencing Herbert Blau and Karl Marx. Theatre and media are rivals, and, much like industrial production, media specifically television has filled and saturated the cultural economy.
Television has essentially formed its own culture, its own environment in of itself. Arguably, the same could be said today of the internet. On live performance, Auslander is trying to challenge the ideas of the traditional value of liveness. These ideas attempt to place a binary opposition between live performance and the media.
Generally, this style of thought puts liveness as the defined opposite of the recorded. Mediatization can be applied to live performances, by which they become mediatized performances, for example, a play or event broadcast on TV.
Ultimately, Auslander emphasizes that there are no ontological differences between live performance and media. Live performances are just as susceptible to incorporating media elements as others. Initially, media events were modeled on live ones. Now that media is culturally dominant, live events are now modeled on mediatized ones. Auslander treats this change as one dependent on the historical situation, rather than as dependent on intrinsic properties.
Note: This could be just an instance of remediation, where disciplines borrow, reference, and support each other. This approach treats the relationship as non-antagonistic, though. Television strove to emulate theatre when it emerged rather than film. It can look on events exactly when and as they happen. Film, by contrast, is characterized by memory, repetition, and temporal displacement.
Television is intimate in the sense of bringing the external to the home, without needing to travel to it. TV was seen as a cultural sanitizer, to bring only appropriate legitimate content and values into the home.
Similar properties can be said of digital media, but in that case it uses the hypermediate in addition to the immediate, and the illusion of the sanitized vanished much more quickly. Live performance is now heavily influenced and tends to emulate the rhetoric and practices of mediatization, with screens becoming prominent in many situations and venues. Mediatization is reflected in production of performance by the apparatus of reproduction. Auslander references Jacques Attali on representation as a method compared to repetition.
Representation developed initially with capitalism but was gradually replaced by repetition as a result of mass-production. This sounds to reference Greenberg on the Avant-Garde and Kitsch. Referencing Benjamin: Masses have desire for proximity, and at the same time, have desire for reproduced objects.
Auslander concludes this section with the claim that the system of the virtual has incorporated liveness into its substance. This could be seen as that live elements may be understood as tools and media for a larger system of meaning making. On simulation and live performance: Ronald McDonald performing in restaurants p.
Performances occur in numerous locations, and are all live and separate, but are designed to evoke one single character, which is the template that generates each performance. I have chosen this example in part to make the point that a template is not the same as a script: improvisational performances, too, can be generated from a template.
No occurrence of mass or scripted art can be considered authentic because of its reproducibility. Performances that derive from templates instead reference an ideal template, and attempt to borrow its aura or authority.
Recent web technologies, web 2. Thanks for reading my book with such close attention. Your comments lead me to suspect that you are glossing the first edition. Comment by Philip Auslander — September 1, pm. Hi Philip, thanks for reading! I am curious as to the discussion of Gorillaz in the new edition.
We had a very lively discussion, and I have tried my best to glean the takeaway from it. Comment by ashmore — September 1, pm. RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI. You must be logged in to post a comment.
Posts on this page:. Philip Auslander: Liveness [ Readings ] Chapter 2: Live Performance in a Mediatized Culture Initially, media events were modeled on live ones. Loose notes: Television has become its own culture.
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Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture
Auslander opens by comparing theatre and media, referencing Herbert Blau and Karl Marx. Theatre and media are rivals, and, much like industrial production, media specifically television has filled and saturated the cultural economy. Television has essentially formed its own culture, its own environment in of itself. Arguably, the same could be said today of the internet. On live performance, Auslander is trying to challenge the ideas of the traditional value of liveness. These ideas attempt to place a binary opposition between live performance and the media. Generally, this style of thought puts liveness as the defined opposite of the recorded.
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