Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Sound Souvenirs | Some (kind of) Thoughts...

Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices | Karin Bijsterveld & José van Dijck

Bijsterveld, Karin and Van Dijck, José, Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009)

This collection of articles focuses on the act of recalling certain sounds/ music in the efforts to elicit memory and the connection with the technological devices that facilitate in doing so (so much so that they have perhaps lost their own presence). The importance attached to accessing sounds from the past (which are experienced in the present through digital media devices (from cassette to the iPod)) encourages questioning the narratives of past and present social and cultural contexts. The importance and dominance of the personal music device in present day constructs raises some interesting questions in relation to cultural practices, like how we receive music (or sound) and what is done with it (documentation, archive, curate, preserve, listen/ experience). The authors investigate the changing role of culture and how digital media has enabled this manifestation. This transformation has enabled digital devices to become the default mode of experiencing sound and the main means of artistic expression, interaction (forming individual and communal relationships and senses of identity). I was initially reluctant to see how some of the ideas raised in this collection could be applied to my research (the reconfiguration of presence and the mediatization of opera and reception), but some key theories proposed have helped open up my awareness of the audience (collective and individual); expressing the importance to explore the cultural context that will shape their experience of live and mediatized performances.  I have come to realize that contemporaneous society is saturated with media and audio technologies- to a far greater extent than I had really accepted prior to my reading of the text. In the introduction Karin outlines a key thought to motivate the undertaking of this work and something to keep in mind while reading the text: ‘The cultural practices in which people make use of audio technologies to elicit, reconstruct, celebrate, and manage their memories, or even a past in which they did not participate’[1]: there is an obvious demand for people to gain access to music from the past and preserve it for their own personal archive; something to manage and curate for themselves (which arguably could be seen as documenting one’s perceptions of self-hood/ or connecting with their sense of identity. This desire to preserve certain sounds/ music raises some interesting questions about an individual’s desired means of attaining access to culture and how this defines their perceptions of how they should access works (everything should be attainable and willing to be manipulated to put on device). This confirms that the default mode of receiving and experiencing sound is through mediation. The device is integral to the experience and facilitates in cataloging music. Audio technologies permit the sounds to be accessed on cue. This also points to the requirement for a digital mediator to convey, remind and re-live certain experiences. These devices facilitate with actively engaging and mediating soundscapes, further forming sonic associations; which then confirms the primacy of digital mediators. This is the primary means of engaging with music and performances; experiencing sound is controlled by the author (the owner of the device). Contemporary society dominated by mass media- a plethora of communicative devices facilitate in experiencing cultural practices; we use these for personal reference to resurrect, re-live and connect with the past- for whatever reasons (admittedly this text focuses largely on nostalgia and sentimentality, therefore substantiating the importance of re-calling and re-living the past). We can also consider how this places an impact on the human experience; individual and collective memory and communal experiences have been reconfigured with momentum gained from the continually advancing technologies. With the growing dependence on digital devices as mediators- attitudes have shifted with regards to experiencing culture. The desire to preserve, document and archive must have consequences on the ideals of performance- the social and cultural psyche and the performative environment.
                                                                The first chapter largely focuses on the process in which new technologies gradually acquire a familiar embedding and function in everyday life[2]: this investigates how seamless certain technologies have applied themselves to domestic life- becoming part of the norms and basic requirements in household narratives. The formula of translation in which objects gain entry into the domestic fabric is through:
  • Appropriation: the process of buying object
  • Objectification:  the way that the household express their norms, and desired display of social status (socio-economic)
  •  Incorporation: what happens when the object is incorporated into everyday practices
  •  Conversion: the role of the device in the relationship between its owners and persons outside the house.

How devices seek entry and apply their function is subject to targeting the consumer and developing a strategy to entice the designated audience (contextualize use). The narrative of the sale tactics, expresses certain motivations and will communicate so but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s how ‘it’ll go down’ within the public sphere. This is worth considering in relation to what stage simulcasts are at and how they are being sold to opera/ cinema consumers. What are the simulcast characteristics being propagated and what is the narrative behind the marketing (wider audience, mainstreaming, modernizing)?
Chapter two exposes us to how something (like mix-taping) can make its mark on cultural narratives and gain such popularity and momentum, therefore becoming a widespread activity (designing and curating one’s own musical collection/ archive). This mainstream practice is also noteworthy because it essentially went against the manufactures intentions- the proposed function of the devices  (in relation to recording) was recreated by the public- they adapted it to suit their needs; becoming a product of the people and a cultural phenomenon. This leads me to question mediatized opera; this matter of adapting and asserting new meanings that then become interwoven into the norms of reception and cultural practices.
Sterne’s chapter explores the current framework of music- concerning the fluctuation of the commercial and historical value placed on the mass-production of music; stating that value diminishes over time the more common and available the form is. Rareness holds commercial value for demand of preservation- simulcast productions may be considered here. The Met avoid over indulging their audience; each performance corresponds with one global live event (The Met: Live in HD). If by some magic they appear on YouTube a few days subsequent to the performance then they aren’t in the virtual performance sphere for long- savvy spies submit complaints promptly and the performance is lost (except to those quick enough to preserve it…). Sterne draws on Mike Featherstone’s theory of: ‘an expanding consumer culture and the genesis of world cities that leads to the globalization of culture and the increase in the volume of cultural production and reproduction beyond our capacity to recover the various cultural objects, images, and fragments into a framework through which we can makes sense of’[3]: this quote refers to the present situation of contemporary cultural contexts- noting the importance placed on mass-production and consumption and the limited desire for selectivity.
Weber’s article reflects on the tangibility of portable devices, from their initial advertisements and publicized use, to how this has shaped the reliance on mediators, and further notes that unforeseen meanings and practices have stemmed from the initial suggested use. Weber notes how heavily we rely on digital devices as a means of personally creating and controlling perceptions and experience. The mass production and consumption digital audio devices has developed a set of meanings and functions and has become part of the urban soundscape for a more diverse use that can be experienced in isolation or communally. As these devices are portable and the audio can be shared publicly then the act of sharing/ playing music in a communal setting provides individuals with the opportunity to express control of spaces; transforming their personal space in communal settings. Issues of authority, personal selection and private auditory sphere are important as it is the dominant way in which to experience music and sound- in isolation with control of how the music works- volume, skipping, replay, rewind, Fast forward, etc. This is the primary means of experiencing music and sound (which with headphones is all-consuming, surround sound); how do we apply this manner of reception with other cultural ventures? i.e how does this shape our list of requirements for music and sound. With DVD and TV we gain control of our experience and reception of audio; sound and visuals and can be manipulated to our desired reception conditions. If, as Auslander proposes, TV is the cultural context- then are we adapting these practices to our ideologies of reception?
In the fifth chapter, Bull discusses the sense of ownership and self (to communicate) that the iPod has enabled. He addresses the cataloging of music and sound and how people: increasingly use communication technologies to control and manage their daily experiences; this designated function indicates the move towards the consumer’s omnipotence[4]: immediacy, access and complete control of what they are subjected to (audio). He emphasizes the role of nostalgia and how consumers reach to the past to almost transcend the present- through recalling memories[5] this can be used to re-call events- individual (personal from their memory) or collective (greater societal cultural contribution). This prompts certain questions: What is the (cultural and social) background of an audience? What makes an audience member? Their role needs to be contextualized, as they are a product of cultural construction. What we are exposed to and what we expect and accept from engaging and experiencing cultural material are formed by the norms and defaults established by our cultural environment (connected with sociological constructs). As a certain set of values, practices, conventions and rituals become embedded in our culture, this alters the means in which we engage with forms of media and performance- they either adhere or deny the set of ‘rules’ or ‘norms’ that we have been exposed to and accepted as cultural context.
Taylor’s contribution explores the dynamic and idealistic perspectives imposed on the realm of culture and furthermore, how material is created and (later) contextualized. He notes that the framing of meaning is: ‘[from the] saturation of media and advertising: visceral pleasure of the music, nostalgia seems to be the main reason for the fans’ attraction to the music, the reason they attend live concerts’[6]: the primary reason they generate so much interest is through mediation from digital media- they have established a list of expectations and associations that have become embedded into their perception of the performance. Attending live concerts enables this sense of co-presence, but… ‘everything about the performers is ramped up compared to the original recordings, as though the musicians have to out-perform their recorded forebears’[7]: although Taylor’s assertions can be applied a wider contemporary cultural context (rather than just focusing on ‘oldies and popular music): the ramifications of the dominance of mediatization and digital mediators are re-defining certain aspects of performances, as audience members have been exposed to more examples and are able to attain a greater amount of information for points of reference. Therefore they have a list of expectations and requirements (acoustically and aesthetically)- search engines, blogs, social media like Google and Twitter archive responses and counter-examples.
Dijck’s work addresses the conscious responses and appreciation of music stemming from the notion that technologies and objects of recorded music are an intrinsic part of reminiscing- providing a means to access and store memories. He places emphasis on collective memory and how certain songs reconnect with the past- highlighting the commitment to consciously create meaning. Dijck notes that devices may be considered symbolic resources in the construction of identity and community- contributing to a sense of collective memory and communal cultural heritage[8]. He also discusses mediated memories stating that they: ‘are shaped precisely at the intersections of personal and collective memory’[9]: the collaborative foundation of opinions (and cultivating reactions) rely on both individually and collective dynamics and perceptional context. The dominance of multimedia  (radio, tv, websites, social media, etc.)[10] has encouraged the development up of perceptions of the current cultural sphere- from sharing and re-constructing collective experiences.
Ficker’s work looks into the: ‘the interplay between, sometimes overlapping, contexts of memorial practices and various official or unofficial ‘‘carriers’’ of memory in a society at a specific time’ and further questions ‘what is the analytical potential or relevance of this theoretical differentiation between communicative and cultural memory between communicative and cultural memory’[11] (124): Although the cultural meaning of the transistor radio and the performance of popular music frames his arguments; the article raises interest from a historical perspective- reflecting on the co-construction and re-construction of cultural meaning. Further exploring the context, practice and routines of listening; the transfer or adaptation of experiencing entertainment evolves to be re-appropriated to the demands of society. The characteristics of devices are subject to change (like the desire for the transistor to be mobile) with social and cultural conditioning in a constantly evolving media dominated society.
Braun’s contributions lead me to consider how renewed interest and the reclaiming objects (instruments like the Theremin) from the past can be re-situated and brought into mainstream culture (perhaps not to the masses, but certainly increasing its cultural value). This revival really captured the desire to breath new life into old mediums- and therefore encouraging new engagement. Another thought that may be of use to my research is that: ‘the auditory realm is experienced as a liminal space, a space of constant transformation’ (this thought is implied throughout the collection of essays) and how the Internet functions as a stage[12] it may be worth checking out some sociological theories behind this statement… ?
Pinch and Reinecke’s discussion on ‘Technonostalgia’: the idea that the movement toward both new sounds and new interactions (aural, social, physical) is concretized through combinations of the past and present. The re-appropriation of the past (devices or instruments) in contemporary framework (vice versa) pinpoints the need for omnipotence and the simultaneous combing of past and present conventions. The reaching to the past to sentimentalize and provide new sounds and aesthetics is made feasible from the flexibility of contemporary framework (the improvement and accessibility of digital mediators).
The 11th chapter encourages the consideration of the conscious awareness of constructing sound, saying that: ‘experience is equally constructed by discourses as it is by social practices, and thus to pay attention to the production of sensory perception’[13]: this prompts questions such as: what and how we attach certain values to sound through social and cultural propagation, and further brings to focus the role of shaping attitudes about audio and perception. The response produced by surroundings and the group dynamic (social practices, rituals)- the claiming of past conventions in contemporary digital infrastructure.
Benschops’ chapter looks into audience awareness, the performance time and context, whilst also looking at acknowledging the past within contemporary cultural contexts- in the effort of eliciting participation and connection. He states that: ‘technology’s ability to bring sounds to places where they do not normally occur (graveyard), may be the very quality listeners need to experience a historical sensation’[14]: to connect with the past the spectator steps outside their known- they mediate with the past and present (acoustically) to prompt engagement.
Although the essays don’t address simulcasts directly there were points of interest and value into looking at the contextualization of the spectator (what they are exposed to and what shapes their reactions).

[1] Karin Bijsterveld, and José Van Dijck, Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009), 11.

[2] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 26.
[3] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 61.
[4] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 91.
[5] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 92.
[6] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 99.
[7] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 103.
[8] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 116.
[9] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 116.
[10] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 117.
[11] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 124.
[12] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 147.
[13] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 171.
[14] Bijsterveld, Sound Souvenirs, 187.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Literary Review: Philip Auslander’s Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture

Literary Review: Philip Auslander’s Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture

Philip Auslander | Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture
Auslander, Philip, Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture (New York: Taylor & Francis Ltd, 2008)

Auslander’s text explores the role of liveness in contemporary culture by addressing the arguably unsettled perceptions and definitions attached to the term. He initially asserts that by incorporating mediatization into ‘live’ performances (such as the addition of projections) can often render such reactions as shock and may even appall some audience members[1] this suggests that the spectators’ perceptions of a performance are rooted in an historical construction of performative ideals. His research is undertaken from a phenomenological perspective, which explores the changing and redefining the concept of liveness. This concept has changed over time in relation to technological conditions; suggesting that what determines liveness is unsettled and is subject to change over time (and will continue to do so). The characteristics associated with the term aren’t necessarily concrete. Auslander additionally claims that live performance only exists from the advent of it’s other: mediatization. This would then indicate that the cultivation of liveness occurred by default- to impose on it’s other. The idea that performance should be settled and fail to be considered as ‘valid’ or authentic when interacting with forms of mediatization seems problematic (especially considering the nature of simulcasts). The use of microphones and projections are, after all considered to be part of the seams of live performance; their presence is justified and has been employed into the performative narrative of theatre and opera performances. The inclusion of these forms of media are not acknowledged to be a hindrance to live performance, therefore capturing a contradictory set of rules. Auslander’s interdisciplinary approach incorporates media studies, media theory and performance studies, amongst others. His research also consults theorists such as Baudrillard and Walter Benjamin, applying their theories of mediatization to his research in the efforts of dissecting and exploring the characterization and means of preservation of live performance by liveness-enthusiasts. Amongst the most important stances Auslander takes is his exploration of the role of television and cinema with theatre studies. He investigates how each medium arguably feeds off the other for performative characteristics, whilst also considering and connecting these theories with western contemporary social and cultural contexts. We are presented with the argument that television has become embedded into our cultural environment and is no longer to be seen as a novelty medium; it has transcended its primary role to ‘become’ society’s cultural context[2]. Therefore, contributing in portraying the idealized representations of mass identity and consciousness. If a performance is only real when it is live, then what are we experiencing and how is one’s attitude to mediatization and hybrid art forms to be explored? Furthermore, he questions the historical interpretations and cultivations of liveness and mediatization, while acknowledging the imposed competition set between both modes; whilst also exploring: the audience, performer’s and western society’s attitude towards these performative modals from an ontological perspective- in particular focusing on an authenticity complex and the role that ‘aura’ plays when idealizing certain modes of performance.
                                                           A substantial portion of the text is devoted to exploring the problematic categorization of liveness and mediatization. Auslander notes that: ‘It is absolutely clear that our current cultural formation is saturated with, and dominated by, mass media representations’[3]: how this effects reception and audience participation is certainly a key issue to explore alongside acknowledging the importance and obvious dominance of mediatization in western contemporary cultural structures. Those attempting to justify the superiority of live performance initially raise issues of aura and of the energy that is supposedly created between the performers and spectators at a given performance[4]. Furthermore, Auslander suggests that the contemporary definition of liveness seems to indicate that audience members and performers should be both temporally and spatially co-present and also suggests that mediatization (its binary) fails to offer the same conditions- this is mediatization’s fundamental difference. The mediation of performance through recording, pre-recording and live recording offer different experiences and many times the advertisements and buzz words used to entice spectators may take characteristics from the other mediums to justify their contribution or to connect to a greater audience. Simulcasts or Livecasts may be considered here. Is there really a sense of co-presence and community between performers and spectators and furthermore, is the actual performance shaped by the (physical) presence of the audience? Auslander challenges traditional thinking of both forms of mediation by critiquing the terminology that has become standardized and applied to these mediums. Therefore implying that by deconstructing the terms applied this exposes the theory that one is defined by the other’s absence. The characterization of mediatization in western culture is predominantly based on televisual studies and it could be said that as it is such an accessible medium it can be considered the default mode of cultural reference and thus the most ‘authentic’ form of the representation of reality. Auslander analyses what those committed to live performance do to propagate their medium, like stating that certain performances aren’t available on video therefore substantiating the polarization[5]. Taking this example into consideration we note that the importance of the performance being an ocular experience is sold (disregarding the importance of ‘aura’). The experience of liveness therefore is sold as something with a best-before date whilst also confirming its position as an exclusive and fleeting experience. The contradiction of the rules and definitions of liveness (and it’s ‘other’… mediatization) are also broached:

‘From ball games that incorporate instant replay screens, to rock concerts that recreate the images of music videos, to live stage versions of television shows and movies, to dance and performance art’s incorporation of video, evidence of the incursion of mediatization into the live event is available across the entire spectrum of performance genres’[6]:

It is evident that mediums like theatre are more than willing to incorporate some form of mediatization into their performance. Taking opera performances for example- it is rare that we attend these events without singers using some form of digital assistance (microphones); these additions are ‘the norm’. Then, to state that live performances are ‘authentically’ live is incorrect- if attention was drawn on this to live advocates would these (live) performances be seen as contaminated by mediatization or alternatively, are they considered tools in which to heighten the liveness of the experience? Increasingly developing in prominence, live events are thus turning to modeling themselves on their mediatized counterparts; the techniques and aesthetic practices are being adapted for these performances by replacing the medial models with a more acceptable and known infrastructure that western society is most familiar with (televisual and cinematic practices). 
                                         Auslander’s second chapter centers on dissecting the position of live performance in contemporary society, particularly looking at popular culture and televisual studies. He argues against the:
Intrinsic opposition and in favor of a view that both emphasizes the mutual dependence of the live and the mediatized and challenges the traditional assumption that the live precedes the mediatized’[7]:
thus proposing that each medium has somehow been influenced by the other and the merging of certain practices has (possibly) been unconsciously applied to the other and therefore, achieving a state of convergence; this may be applied to theatre, film and televisual mediums for example narrative structures and visual devices that have developed on stage. We could also say that cinema in turn has had an impact on the approach to stage productions (like seamless transitions from editing). Stylistic preferences have become ingrained in western society’s consciousness from the mass exposure to each medium. Each art form has influenced the other, and this is particularly true of simulcasts. Take The Met’s live in HD series; this phenomenon could be seen as complicating the live experience further. After all you’re experiencing a ‘live’ event with cinematic, televisual and obviously theatrical aspects, conditions and conventions. The layering of audience perspectives and the cultivation of temporal and spatial environments reassert the notion that we are experiencing a live event from both a certain ontological and ideological stance. The audience’s chosen medial identity affects interpretations of liveness and what it means in terms of presence (taking into consideration the different temporal and spatial settings). As these events are co-experienced and ‘live’ then disputing the realness in the performance seems somewhat redundant- the mediatized spectator experiences the liveness of the event; additionally they have their own conditions of liveness. At the recent Met simulcast of The Nose, the presenters communicated the importance of the in-house audience’s setting (the cameras also work to show the social diversity in age, sex and race). Both audiences are conscious of their position to their counterparts (virtual and live) yet, the numbers attending these simulcasts far out weigh those in the opera house. Thus posing the question as to whether these supposedly live (with microphones, cameras and surtitles boxes) aptly subscribe to the boundaries of their imposed live identity (and the cultural construction of said identity) or whether they are being used as a platform for the mediatized to experience? Auslander proposes that:
Television’s intimacy was seen as a function of its immediacy- the close proximity of viewer to event that it enables… events from outside… to be transmitted into the viewer’s home’[8].
It is apparent that the global experience (from a promotional and economic sense) is dependent on the interaction and collaboration of both mediums for a hybrid experience of liveness. Historically, a live performance was considered to involve the co-presence of performer and spectator both temporally and physically; however it is now used to define absence. As television is ‘the cultural context’ then the liveness of a television program pinpoints the shift to a temporal epicenter[9] the same can be applied to simulcasts, right? This shift of focus has lead to some ambiguity as to what exactly may be considered live. How audience members perceive liveness and how this in turn encourages or discourages them attending certain performances is the imperative question. This development leads to certain mediums attempting to simulate or promote feelings of inclusivity and exclusivity when attending mediatized performances. For The Met’s simulcasts, the presenters encourage attending the production in person (for the aura/ sense of atmosphere) yet the virtual audience gain (in a sense) exclusive access to the whole production- far exceeding the boundaries of the mise-en-scene which the live audience (although temporally and spatially present) are denied access. The selling of liveness pinpoints issues of participation, accessibility and environmental and social conditioning. For simulcasts, the audience is temporally co-presence but not spatially. Live-recorded productions are neither spatially nor temporally co-present, yet the techniques used to entice audience members center on it’s immediacy and almost inclusivity. This action indicates a shift of attitude towards the concept of liveness and identifies the elusiveness attributed to the current conceptualization of liveness. It is worth considering what are the foundations and infrastructure that facilitate in conveying the ideals (of reception) of a given performance. Auslander notes the sub-genre’s of liveness by compiling a table documenting the proposed categories of liveness, their characteristics and the art forms to which they can be attached to[10]; proposing that liveness can be broken down to: classic liveness, live broadcast, live recording, Internet liveness, and social liveness. The former is mainly what I’ve been focusing on thus far: the physical co-presence of performers and audience members in temporal simultaneity of production and reception[11], he attributes this form if liveness specifically with theatre, concerts, dance and sports.
                                                   By encouraging the consideration of Internet liveness, he suggests that the imposed importance of audience-performer interaction (or co-presence) is not as important as it may be propagated. There is certainly a sense of connection with other users and if social liveness is also to be considered then the situation is made slightly more complex. Certain opera houses like the Royal Opera House present and maintain a strong presence on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook (especially the former). Their constant interaction with fellow users demonstrates their position as a platform for a global cultural experience (their engagement with simulcast productions and additionally accommodating spectators with pre-performance talks and experiments validates this position). Whether or not people prefer to attend live performances (spatial and temporal co-presence) over mediatized (simulcast) may be difficult to discern, and may be down to the value that an individual places on attending a live event[12] like cost, access, convenience and whether they’re going to see a certain performer or whether, ahem… they’re going as part of educational commitments. What motivates an individual to attend one form of performance over the other is perhaps too subjective to pinpoint, regardless of the amount of empirical studies conducted. Of course a given performance can incorporate both live and mediatized elements like pre-recorded commentary to contextualize the performance; cast interviews and deconstructions of the work’s narrative from collaborators can all feature in televisual, cinematic, theatrical works and arguably to the greatest extent the hybrid form of all of these: simulcast operas.  
                           Harking on Walter Benjamin’s theories, Auslander seeks to illustrate that meaning in performance is conveyed through mediation[13]: like in cinema and television the most successful tools to do so is via technology: camera movement and techniques: framing, angles, zoom- all contribute to create meaning (this is equally true of staged performances and in simulcasts like the NT:Live). Auslander’s interpretation of the positive qualities associated with simulcast productions are listed as thus: spontaneity, community, feedback and presence[14]: all of which can aptly be re-positioned to analyze simulcast productions. Feedback can be enabled by social media- where often, communication on Twitter can be quite prominent and effective. A sense of presence and community is also re-created, with additional perspectives to be considered and glitches are just as likely to occur during these productions as well as their ‘live’ counterparts.  Issues like social prestige and symbolic capitol could also be important to consider, thus the value of physically attending performances can be considered from attendance factors[15]. On the issue of presence from the live vs. mediatized perspective, Auslander poses the question of how valid co-presence exactly is? Audience members that attend a live performance are behaviorally restricted and may feel compelled to behave in a certain manner and mimic fellow audience member’s behavior (booing, cheering, etc.) yet virtual audiences are free to behave in whatever manner they choose (of course certain cinema behaviors are adapted and merged with conventions of both)- ‘disruptive’ behavior in the theatre is not akin to that in the cinema theatre (like eating popcorn, moving seats mid-performance, going to the bathroom when intermission is an hour away) simulcasts are encouraging shifting the paradigm of the landscape of behavior. Operating on the premise that authenticity and otherness are at strife- the audience member decides whether the performance is accurately explored both aesthetically.
                                                                                         Auslander’s exploration of digital media and performance cultivates the justification of media’s presence in performance studies and reception studies from contemporary mediums, thus stressing that: ‘the live event itself is shaped to the demands of mediatization’[16]. Both concepts are interconnected; therefore the definition of one is only aptly understood with its other used as a point of reference. Ideologically speaking liveness and mediatization have been polarized and categorized as ‘others’. He addresses the historicity of the concept of liveness and traces the use of the term from its first noted documentation, when the definition was used in contrast to the incorporation of technology in (or relating to) performance. Meaning that the term liveness developed in opposition of the advance of mediating technology. Many of the counter arguments and apposing theorists that Auslander involves in forming and motivating his theories (like Peggy Phelan) seem to wish to preserve the dichotomy between the live and recorded. However many mediums are making a claim on experiencing events as live and certainly do their best to re-create and re-adapt the conditions, consequently forming the reconfiguration of the concept of the live. It is very much up to the audience to accept this claim to substantiate an event as live, this conscious effort then concretizes complete presence of an active audience. Surely if the primacy of the live is being propagated to western cultural consumers then the seduction strategy placed on audience members (inclusivity, communality, involvement and social co-presence) can be applied to mediatized events like simulcasts. Auslander’s research opens up the question as to how simulcasts ought be received, where do they stand? They seem to occupy this peculiar live/ mediatized intersection by accepting defining elements of both mediums. This hybrid relationship may confirm his theory that the live is unsettled and subject to reconfiguration. His text further prompts investigation of the presentation of contemporaneous performative experiences, like how is the value of presence being established and accepted… is complete presence achieved? The reconfiguration of the means of receiving, accepting and consuming cultural events needs to be re-contextualized to suit a culture dominated by mass media.

[1] Philip Auslander, Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture (New York: Taylor & Francis Ltd, 2008), xii.
[2] Auslander, Liveness, 2.
[3] Auslander, Liveness, 1.
[4] Auslander, Liveness, 2.
[5] Auslander, Liveness, 5.
[6] Auslander, Liveness, 7.

[7] Auslander, Liveness, 11.
[8] Auslander, Liveness, 16.
[9] Auslander, Liveness, 60.
[10] Auslander, Liveness, 61.
[11] Auslander, Liveness, 61.
[12] Auslander, Liveness, 24.
[13] Auslander, Liveness, 32.
[14] Auslander, Liveness, 63.
[15] Auslander, Liveness, 66.
[16] Auslander, Liveness, 184.