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Mapping Intermediality in Performance

Mapping Intermediality in Performance

Sarah Bay-Cheng
Chiel Kattenbelt
Andy Lavender
Robin Nelson
Series: MediaMatters
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Mapping Intermediality in Performance
    Book Description:

    This volume examines afresh the impact upon acting and performance of digital technologies. It is concerned with how digital culture combines the traditional 'liveness' of theatre with media interfaces and internet protocols. The time and space of the 'here and now' are both challenged and adapted, just as barriers between theatre-makers and the 'experiencers' of events are broken down. Today many of us are everyday players performing the interconnectedness of digital culture and a key aim of the book is to unpack the multiple interrelations within the landscape of contemporary performance. Access to a range of 'instances' (The Builders Association, Castellucci, Castorf, Gob Squad, Lepage, Second Life and VJing) is through 'portals' which afford perspectives on the main characteristics of theatre and performance in the digital age. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1314-7
    Subjects: Film Studies, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. How to Approach This Book
    (pp. 9-12)
  4. Introduction:: Prospective Mapping and Network of Terms

    • Prospective Mapping
      (pp. 13-23)
      Robin Nelson

      This volume is a successor to Chapple and Kattenbelt (eds.),Intermediality in Theatre and Performance(2006) in that it has grown, as noted, out of the IFTR group’s work. Two aspects follow from this context, which might now helpfully be framed in Elleström’s recently constructed “Model for Understanding Intermedial Relations” (2010, 11).² The first is an emphasis on the principles of composition of live theatre as a “strongly multimodal media” (Elleström 2010, 38) phenomenon with, in Kattenbelt’s formulation, a distinctive capacity to be a hypermedium which “stages” other mediums (see 2006, 37).³ The second is an established acknowledgement that the...

    • Network of Terms
      (pp. 24-26)
      Sarah Bay-Cheng

      TheOxford English Dictionaryin part definesmapas “A diagram or collection of data showing the spatial distribution of something or the relative positions of its components”. It was these relative positions or points that Michel de Certeau problematised when he argued that the map transforms the activity of passers-by (or their performances) “into points that draw a totalizing and reversible line on the map. They allow us to grasp only a relic set of the nowhen of a surface of projection” (de Certeau 1984, 97). There are myriad affinities between de Certeau’s view of the totalising map and...

  5. Portal:: Performativity and Corporeal Literacy

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 27-28)

      ‘Performativity’ and ‘corporeal literacy’ are the guiding concepts of this portal affording a perspective through dynamic embodiment on intermediality in performance and posing two specific questions. The first question, addressed by Kattenbelt, concerns how intermediality in performance can be understood as a mode of performativity. Kattenbelt proposes that intermediality in performance is very much aboutstagingmedia and, in consequence, changes the interrelations between their materiality (or ontology), mediality (or functionality) and modes of perception (with respect to medium-specific conventions). These changes are characterised in terms of a refunctioning of the media involved and a resensibilisation of perception. The ‘staging’...

    • Intermediality in Performance and as a Mode of Performativity
      (pp. 29-37)
      Chiel Kattenbelt

      This section offers a way into understanding intermediality both in performance and as a mode of performativity. It draws on some of the established conceptions of ‘performance’, ‘performativity’ and the ‘performative turn’ but refines them with the aim of distinguishing both continuities and differences. The discussion is concerned with both aesthetics in respect of the interrelations of the elements in intermedial texts, and their impact, in terms broadly involving a resensibilisation of the perception of experiencers (→ term: experiencer). My claim ultimately is that the performative turn instigated in the early 20th century by the arrival of mass media was...

    • Corporeal Literacy: New Modes of Embodied Interaction in Digital Culture
      (pp. 38-43)
      Maaike Bleeker

      This section affords a perspective on intermedial theatre practices through the lens of corporeal literacy. It proposes that theatre practices create situations in which communication happens through several sensory modalities at once. The perspective brings out the performative character of processes of perception and cognition, focusing particularly on the corporeal dimension of these practices. Accordingly, it draws attention to how perception is performed and also to how theatre performance involves complex processes of selection and combination of sensory input.

      Perception, as Alva Noë points out, “is not a process in the brain but a kind of skilful activity on the...

  6. Node: Modes of Experience
    (pp. 45-48)
    Robin Nelson, Kurt Vanhoutte, Bruce Barton, Russell Fewster and Nele Wynants

    In the context of contemporary arts and media, experiencer serves where audience or even “spect-actor” (Boal) prove inadequate. It suggests a more immersive engagement in which the principles of composition of the piece create an environment designed to elicit a broadly visceral, sensual encounter, as distinct from conventional theatrical, concert or art gallery architectures which are constructed to draw primarily upon one of the sense organs – eyes (spectator) or ears (audience). In her interactive virtual reality installation,Osmose(1994-1996), for example, Char Davies dubbed her audience “immersants”. Though it might not directly involve touch, smell or taste in addition...

  7. Instances

    • Instance: Performing an Avatar: Second Life Onstage
      (pp. 49-55)
      Kaisu Koski

      This instance discusses an example of theatre as a hypermedium (← introduction) in respect of the online, virtual world of Second Life (SL) as an element of an actual onstage performance but, reciprocally, considers the virtual platform of SL as a stage for a live theatre event. It concerns the juxtaposition of the virtual (→ term: virtuality) with the actual and the interrelationship between the performers and their computer-generated characters, the avatars. These themes are discussed through the performanceAki Anne II; a second part of an art-research project by Marloeke van der Vlugt. The performance, presented during 2007 in...

    • Instance: Intermediality in VJing: Two VJ Sets by Gerald van der Kaap (alias VJ 00-Kaap)
      (pp. 56-62)
      Marina Turco

      This instance explores the intermedial effect within a particular kind of performance, VJing, which generates immersive (← term: immersion), synaesthetic spaces and defines clubbing as a liminal, transitional experience through which cultural and social identities are created. Thus the emphasis placed (following Boenisch 2006) is less on the composition of the cultural product itself, the cross-over between two or more media, and more on the moment in the communication process when the transition from one medium into another or a new combination of media causes ambiguity, or uncertainty, in the engagement process. The intermedial effect arises from texts, or cultural...

    • Instance: The Lost Babylon (Adelaide Fringe Festival 2006)
      (pp. 63-68)
      Russell Fewster

      By way of an ‘insider’ approach to the play between live and on-screen presence (← term: presence), this instance focuses on key moments in rehearsal of my production of award-winning Japanese playwright, Takeshi Kawamura’s,The Lost Babylon(1999).14Contemporary live performance of both scripted plays and devised practices, is increasingly influenced by screen cultures. Theatre now regularly incorporates digital media in the form of projection and television screens. As a consequence, theatrical presence is mediated, in part, by the intervention of the digital into the performance space. Theatre practitioners – directors, actors, set and lighting designers – actively deal with...

    • Instance: The Work of CREW with Eric Joris
      (pp. 69-74)
      Kurt Vanhoutte and Nele Wynants

      This instance reviews the creative and research process of CREW, a performance group and multidisciplinary team of artists and researchers based in Brussels. With Eric Joris, combining a background in film with graphic and product design, as its key figure, the group has been creating theatrical experiments at the melting point of live art and digital media since 1998. Continuing a dialogue with state-of-the-art developments in robotics and computer sciences, CREW triggers the theatrical imagination of design and production, text and sound. The artistic outcome tends to be hybrid; with the technological live art of CREW troubling installed categories of...

    • Instance: Rimini Protokoll, Mnemopark (2005)
      (pp. 75-82)
      Kara McKechnie

      This instance addresses the ways in which the Berlin-based company Rimini Protokoll blends documentary and fiction, authenticity and performance in its multimedia productionMnemopark. It particularly focuses on strategies for both mediating and mediatising ‘actual’ people and places in an intermedial performance setting.

      Rimini Protokoll is a collective of three theatre makers, Daniel Wetzel, Helgard Haug and Stefan Kaegi, who have created innovative and theatrical research projects since 2000. Originating from the Department for Applied Theatre Studies at the University of Giessen, Rimini Protokoll collaborates with ‘experts of the everyday’ (“Experten des Alltags”), such as model rail enthusiasts (Mnemopark), crossword...

  8. Portal:: Time and Space

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 83-84)

      Other than notions ofthe body, perhaps no other elements receive as much scrutiny from collisions among theatre, performance, and digital culture as the resulting transformations of time and space. One of the most salient of these transformations has been the ability to access information outside progressive linear time and defined material spaces. Although refusals to conform to these dimensions date to the early twentieth century, the technological developments of the last 50 years have animated these concepts in startling new ways. If the metaphors of mapping and networking, frequently deployed throughout this book, have any effect at all, it...

    • Temporality
      (pp. 85-90)
      Sarah Bay-Cheng

      Theatre is perhaps the first and most enduring time-based art. Indeed, for Aristotle, the compression of dramatic time – “to exist during a single daylight period” – was one of the distinguishing characteristics between the form of tragedy and epic poetry (Aristotle 1970, 24). Although the emergence of Happenings and other performance art of the 1960s and 1970s drew new attention to the manipulation of time in performance (perhaps most famously in John Cage’s silent durational work,4’33”), theatre and drama had long bent the dimension of time into a range of performance conventions. Photography and cinema made such manipulations...

    • Spatiality
      (pp. 91-96)
      Birgit Wiens

      Since the early twentieth century, space has occupied an important status in theatre studies, with Peter Brook’s (1968) seminal definition of the empty space as a landmark in the ensuing debate. Since Brook, theatre and performance scholars have recognised the importance of space and spatial relationships in re-conceptualising theatre as a performative phenomenon, and theorists have developed a more precise vocabulary to discuss the multiple dimensions of the way space figures in performance. Notions of space and spatiality are used to refer not only to theatre buildings and stages (as “empty space”), but also as integral and, at times, determining,...

  9. Node: Dimensions
    (pp. 97-100)
    Liesbeth Groot Nibbelink, Birgit Wiens and Sarah Bay-Cheng

    Displacement may best be defined as a “travelling concept” (Bal 2002), one applied in a variety of fields, each emphasising a different accent depending on how the concept is used. In physics, displacement refers to the difference between the initial position and the final position of an object; in engineering it is used to measure the process by which an object immersed in a fluid pushes some of the fluid out of the way; in mechanics it is the distance moved by a particle or body in a specific direction. In psychoanalysis, Freud used displacement to describe a subconscious defence...

  10. Instances

    • Instance: Christopher Kondek, Dead Cat Bounce (2005)
      (pp. 101-108)
      Birgit Wiens

      This instance considers how theatre extends into aremote spatiality. Christopher Kondek’s intermedial stock market performance-gameDead Cat Bounceexemplifies a shift in the intermedial conceptions of time and space. Telecommunicatively linking spatially distributed and geographically separated actors and audience,Dead Cat Bounce, a project of Berlin-based American artist Christopher Kondek, allows for the creation of complex, dynamic interlacings and transitions with regard to distinct real and virtual spaces. Its intermedial scenography evokes new performance modalities and perceptions, one that simultaneously echoes the effects of financial globalisation, digital culture, and the tools of telematic communication.

      The project title describes a...

    • Instance: La Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, Purgatory (2008)
      (pp. 109-114)
      Katia Arfara

      This instance focuses onPurgatory(2008), which premiered at the Avignon Theatre Festival.Purgatoryis the second part of La Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio’s (SRS) triptych based on Dante’sDivine Comedy, and it offers an exemplary instance of the company’s anti-naturalistic treatment of space and time. Since its inaugural performanceDiade incontro a Monadein Rome (1981), SRS has displayed a distinctive performance mode intermixing visual and theatre arts. Radicalizing the avant-garde conviction that art should evolve by breaking out of the canonical forms, the Italian company questions the very nature of representation while redefining the role of the spectator. In...

    • Instance: Granular Synthesis, Modell 5 (2001)
      (pp. 115-122)
      Edward Scheer

      This instance concerns the ways in which digital sound and video processing affect our experience of the ‘now’ in performance. It addresses the installationModell5, by Granular Synthesis, and locates this work in relation to other installations and performance art pieces where the present moment is peculiarly durational, or fragmentable, and mediatised for intensity. Specifically, it asks: has the digital age, with its profound changes to machinic processes and technological systems, really (as Mark Hansen puts it) “altered the infrastructure of our contemporary lifeworld in ways that directly impact our embodied temporal experience?” (Hansen 2004, 235).

      Granular Synthesis was...

  11. Portal:: Digital Culture and Posthumanism

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 123-124)

      This section ofMapping Intermediality in Performanceis concerned with digitality, and its reworking of a theatrical currency of bodies, spaces and co-presence. It looks at ways in which digital technologies help to shape intermedial performance, but beyond this it responds to paradigmatic aspects of digital culture that effect the way in which performance events are created, shared and experienced. In particular the authors examine a key characteristic of digital culture – the fact that apparently separate media, phenomena and categories are in play simultaneously, so that they are productively interrelated.

      At the portal, Lavender addresses paradigm-changing characteristics of digital...

    • Digital Culture
      (pp. 125-134)
      Andy Lavender

      This section outlines some of the underlying features of digital culture, in order to see how they apply to – and help shape – intermedial theatre and performance. We begin with three different events. If you had been in, say, Paris in July 2008 (or several other cities that year), you could have sat in a container pulled by a truck, and listened to the musings of two Bulgarian truck drivers, as you watched video projected on the side of the container or looked through its glass side at the urban landscape through which you were travelling. Nearly a year...

    • Posthumanism
      (pp. 135-139)
      Ralf Remshardt

      In spite of its many inflections by intermedia and digital technology, performance as a centrally human practice remains anchored in the humanities, and it might be expected that a term whose meanings are as shifting and occasionally contradictory as “posthumanism” can do little except adumbrate the debate about its nature and future.33Carefully unfolded, however, the term can become an interpretive matrix – there is no singular ‘posthuman condition’ – that resonates constructively with the multiplicity of intermedial performances and allows for a liberatory sensibility that can serve to reimagine the body, spectation, and performance. In a posthuman performance paradigm,...

  12. Node: Actuality-Virtuality
    (pp. 141-142)
    Michael Darroch, Meike Wagner and Sarah Bay-Cheng

    Material is a term fraught with historical connotations and contradictions. Within 20th-century media studies, certain theorists (e.g. McLuhan, Kittler) have typically, though not incontestably, drawn upon a concept of materiality to emphasise the physical characteristics of communication media, rather than focus on the minds, spirits or souls of individuals. Cultural expression, this line of thinking argues, always has a materially embedded character, from processes of inscription (writing, painting, printing) to practices of iteration (performances, recitals, rituals). In order for meanings to be produced, communication processes require complex arrangements of material forms including technologies, human bodies, languages, buildings, and environments. “Materialities...

  13. Instances

    • Instance: Thespian Play: Synchronous Differences
      (pp. 143-148)
      Falk Hübner

      This instance concerns the process of devising my fragmented work-in-progress,Thespian Play(2008/2009), a performance piece for a saxophone player (without saxophone), soundtrack and video.34It also looks at the nature of presence and performance in the production, in relation to some of the key features of intermediality (← term: displacement). What interests me as a theatre maker is the multi-faceted way the audience can perceive a performance. I am therefore interested in fragmentary structures that need to be negotiated by everyone who experiences them (← term: experiencer).

      Thespian Playis a kind of mime or playback performance, on the...

    • Instance: The Builders Association, Super Vision (2005)
      (pp. 149-155)
      Rosie Klich

      This instance explores the position of the human in the space of technology by examiningSuper Vision, The Builders Association’s ninth major work since the company’s formation in 1994.42Under the direction of Marianne Weems, the company, based in New York, unites text, sound, architecture, video and performance to explore the impact of technology on human presence and selfhood. Created in collaboration with multimedia company dBox, it explores the concept of “data bodies”; the versions of ourselves that exist as the collation of all the data files that collectively store our information. Three intertwined stories of human-computer relationships explore the...

    • Instance: The Fragmented Stage of Virtuoso (working title)
      (pp. 156-162)
      Peter Petralia

      With specific reference toVirtuoso (working title), this instance seeks to illuminate my company Proto-type Theater’s ‘both-and’ approach to fragmentation in a practice which otherwise affords wholeness. It looks particularly at live co-relations of actors with each other and the audience, simultaneously in stage space and screen space – with these distinct spaces and media in necessary inter-relation. As science constantly miniaturizes and reduces the world into its component parts, we have become capable of seeing the material world both as unitary particles and as joined together. In contemporary culture it is hard to imagine life without screens that isolate...

    • Instance: Richard Foreman, The Gods Are Pounding My Head! (Aka Lumberjack Messiah) (2005), Deep Trance Behavior in Potatoland (2008)
      (pp. 163-170)
      Sarah Bay-Cheng

      This instance concerns the use of telepresence in the work of American theatre director-writer-designer Richard Foreman, as a technique (and phenomenon) that supercedes theatre whilst retaining some of its core characteristics (← term: presence). It focuses on what might be thought of as a series of recent theatre pieces in Foreman’soeuvre, and particularly onThe Gods Are Pounding My Head! (Aka Lumberjack Messiah)(2005) andDeep Trance Behavior in Potatoland(2008).

      In late 2004, immediately prior to this phase of work, Foreman acknowledged his ambivalence toward the theatre: “I’ve always claimed that I have a love-hate relationship to the...

  14. Portal:: Networking

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 171-172)

      Two key strands weave through the networking portal and its related node of terms and instances. The first is a network conceived as a complex of inter-relationships between mediums in which there are various ways of coming together of perceptibly discrete elements (even though the boundaries between them may be porous). The second is networking conceived as a complex of dynamic interrelated activities, always in interactive process.

      At the portal, Wagner and Ernst are concerned with “the phenomenon of networking as performance”. They note several consonances between notions of emergent networks in digital culture and expanding notions of performances which...

    • Networking
      (pp. 173-183)
      Meike Wagner and Wolf-Dieter Ernst

      This portal affords access to a relatively new approach to performance analysis especially designed for reflecting upon net-based practices. The verb ‘networking’ might seem self-evidently relevant to a scholarly book on intermediality in performance and digital culture. Indeed, as the Internet and the use of mobile computers have been commoditised, networking has become almost a synonym for a postmodern urban life-style, indicating many modes of being inter-connected, actually and virtually.

      The term networking can take up at least three different accents of meaning:

      1. within management procedures, it signifies a soft skill. It suggests the strategic use of a network of...

  15. Node: Inter-relations
    (pp. 185-190)
    Wolf-Dieter Ernst, Michael Darroch, Sarah Bay-Cheng, Izabella Pluta, Chiel Kattenbelt, Johan Callens and Peter M. Boenisch

    The term connectivity, initially growing out of digital media theory (Broeckmann 1998, Knowbotic Research 2000), is now used in the context of live theatre and its engagement with telematic (← term) technology, such as mobile phones, the Internet, and video-circuits. It assists in defining the aesthetics of long-distance transmissions of (digital) information within performance and media art when, for example, an unstable connection appears in performances such as an audio-guided walk or a pervasive game. In such instances, a participant walking through a city or a museum has to stay on track and must not take off the headset if...

  16. Instances

    • Instance: Robert Lepage and Ex Machina, The Andersen Project (2005)
      (pp. 191-197)
      Izabella Pluta

      This instance involves an analysis of the impact of new media technologies on the theatrical performance of Canadian actor-director Robert Lepage inThe Andersen Project(2005).52It explores the actor’s function in relation to notions of hybridity (← term: hybridity) and proposes the concept of a “mediaphoric body”. Lepage is a pioneer in the presentation of live performance that uses different sorts of technology. The integration of digital media into theatre brings about a complex transformation from the standpoint of the actor and his craft. Technological objects and devices become integral to the composition of the actor’s performance. Various types...

    • Instance: Frank Castorf and the Berlin Volksbühne, The Humiliated and Insulted (2001)
      (pp. 198-203)
      Peter M. Boenisch

      This instance addresses the process of transcoding (← term) from a source novel to performance in Frank Castorf’s stage production of Dostoevsky’sThe Humiliated and Insulted(Erniedrigte und Beleidigte) for the Berlin Volksbühne, the theatre of which Castorf is artistic director.55It outlines Castorf’s dramaturgy of hybrid ‘compositing’ (← term: hybridity), which challenges hegemonic paradigms of representation and mediatised immediacy and enables a particular variety of reality effects.

      Castorf commented on his attempt to realign theatrical dramaturgies and contemporary experiences while creatingThe Humiliated and Insultedin 2001:

      I am getting more and more estranged by the calculated modelling and...

    • Instance: Gob Squad, Room Service (2003)
      (pp. 204-209)
      Wolf-Dieter Ernst

      This instance looks at the performanceRoom Service(2003) by Gob Squad, to shed light on the ways in which the production demonstrates principles of connectivity (← term: connectivity). The term points at the necessarily unstable and per-formative dimension of any connection within a network, and my analysis draws on an understanding of the network as paradigmatic to the show’s structures and effects (← portal: networking).

      Gob Squad is a live art collective established in 1992. The company’s name indicates the somewhat ironic attitude of the group towards theatre as entertainment and public service: Gob Squad, a squadron dedicated to...

    • Instance: Anne-Marie Boisvert, Identité dénudée: regard sous le maquillage de Sherman; Manon Oligny, Pouliches: autour de l’oeuvre de Cindy Sherman; Thomas Israël, Looking for Cindy (2006)
      (pp. 210-216)
      Johan Callens

      This instance explores the nature of recursion (← term: recursion) as evidenced by a compound work consisting of two live choreographies and a short filmed one, which cannot be isolated from their shared subject, the photography of Cindy Sherman.

      The occasion for the works under discussion dates back to the Sherman retrospective which ran at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, from May 16 to September 3, 2006. Sherman is famous for disguising and staging herself in more or less obvious fictive situations, deriving immense pleasure from putting photography, a medium with a potential for high verisimilitude, in the service...

  17. Portal:: Pedagogic Praxis

    • Presence and Perception: Analysing Intermediality in Performance
      (pp. 218-229)
      Liesbeth Groot Nibbelink and Sigrid Merx

      To perceive is to render oneself present [to something] through the body, according to Maurice Merleau-Ponty, one of the most influential philosophers in the field of phenomenology (Garner 1994, 27). But when this body is met by what Steve Dixon terms a “digital double” (2007), perception is complicated by a continuous interplay and interconnectedness of modern media (←Introduction). Presence becomes both virtual and actual simultaneously. In intermedial performance, body, time, space and perception reveal themselves as multifaceted and dynamic phenomena. This complexity in turn invites a reciprocally flexible method for describing and analysing the phenomena. This portal affords access to...

    • The Intermedial Performer Prepares
      (pp. 230-236)
      Henk Havens

      Theatre is unthinkable anymore without technology and intermediality. Nobody can be trained as a theatre professional, without at least being aware of the image languages of cinema, television and the digital media. In theatre and performance practice, video equipment, digital tools, and high-tech sound-systems are increasingly significant. Gradually a wide spectrum is being formed by the assembly of more diverse performative domains, and the dramaturgical surplus value of digital aspects such as live streaming demands increasing recognition. Guy Cassiers, for example, has shown with his widely-acclaimedProust cycle(2003-05) that the intensive use of microphones and cameras on stage, interactive...

  18. Retrospection:: The Pre- and Proto-digital

    • Instance: Give me your blessing for I go to a foreign land
      (pp. 239-246)
      Tim Hopkins
    • Early Intermediality: Archaeological Glimpses
      (pp. 247-258)
      Klemens Gruber

      Intermediality was a mode of experimentation in the arts and media even when medium was a term used mainly with reference to spiritist séances. To explore the terrain of such experiments and historically to unpack the concept of intermediality with a view to the various inter-relationships between media, three contextualising frames are offered in this retrospection: “semiotic fundamentalism”, “aesthetic misuse” and “epistemological euphoria”. Following the exposition of the historical contexts, a ‘tiger’s leap’ through time will be made to demonstrate the crucial role the avant-garde played in constructing what we call intermediality today.

      The art of the early 20th century...

  19. Notes
    (pp. 259-266)
  20. Cited Works
    (pp. 267-282)
  21. Contributors
    (pp. 283-292)
  22. Index
    (pp. 293-304)