Blog Post

Performance and Technology

I'm excitied to be writing my first blog entry. Since I'm just getting started about a month into this academic year I'll touch a bit on some recent activities at UC Berkeley as well as interesting projects to come. Working between the Berkeley Center for New Media involvement in the Arts, Technology & Culture (ATC) Colloquium and the Townsend Center New Media Working, I have already attended several events on "Performance and Technology," the theme for this year's ATC season. Shannon Jackson kicked off this year's ATC with a talk on September 19 titled "Social Art Works: Social Turns and Reciprocal Systems." The talk expands upon ideas covered in Jackson's recent book, Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics. In the book Jackson recognizes how theatrical productions that do not call themselves ‘new media’ are as affected by these technologies as those that do. This point was made clear in her talk, which focuses on artists ranging from Mierle Laderman Ukeles to The Builder's Association. I found interesting the connections between Jackson's ideas on new media performance and work by the New Media Working Group's guest, Lars Jan. Jan gave a talk on his interest in the screen age. While Jan does incorporate contemporary film and screen media in his work, his work is also rich with the physicalities one may associate with a media age. How do paparazzi, for example, produce a physical tick, social move, or affective presence? I see similar trends in projects by local artists as well. Local San Francisco Bay Area choreographer Katie Faulkner partnered up with media artist Michael Trigilio to perform their original work, "We Don't Belong Here." The two artists worked together to create a "public dance media project." This work looks at everyday movements in public spaces and popular culture references. In each of the aforementioned projects, scholars and artists look to "media artwork" as a category that seems to point more broadly to everyday movement, choreographies, and attitudes. It seems that where so much media performance work historically explored properties of different media and the ways the affect physical presence, materiality, and liveness. I am interested in the ways this conversation is shifting to consider "media" and "technology" less as homogenious categories distinct from other cultural and social questions and conversations. Instead, how can performance engage these media -- or in some casses a lack of access to technology -- and their influence on culture, subjectivity and physicality? I hope that I can continue following various scholarly and artistic events around the bay area this year to consider these and other questions.


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