Owing to digital technologies which enable us to virtualize, archive, transmit, mediate and network all kinds of data, nowadays it is possible to endlessly restore and reproduce, share and show, edit or delete the moments, images, words, thoughts of our life without a risky contact of two bodies, a suspense about reaction of somebody else. Our digital apparitions may be exposed and observed in the virtual world, yet our coexistence with others is becoming quite conservative – an interaction without a real risk. Digital technologies allow us to remain safe and sound behind the screen. The fastest and the safest act is to get invisible or sign out, log off and shut down. In real life, such a speedy and ultimate solution would equal a shot, a kiss-off or death.
But why are we, performance artists – live artists – more and more obsessed with digital technology and its possibilities to archive, reproduce, transmit, multiply, network etc.? Is it mainly because that is the only way we can retain at least traces of our transitory research object and – hopefully – secure the presence of our work in art history? Is it mainly due to the need to transform live event into a tangible product in order to secure its accessibility for the purpose of information exchange and sheer existence on the cultural market? Or, are there more profound reasons at stake?
Perhaps the liveness of contemporary performance art has reached a sort of dead end. For quite some time the radical performance practice is facing its own political powerlessness, strategies of opening and testing communicational potentials of the live performative event seem to be nothing but stylized forms, transgression holds out only as an aestheticized excess, while relation performer-spectator is becoming a synonym for impotent relationship… It seems that insistence on the body and live presence is nowadays, and already, an anachronism of liveness; that live experience, as “the subject of the work” of contemporary performance art, is simply no longer real without digitalization of presence.
Based on performances Extract Mandić and Viva Mandić by Marko Mandić. For PSi Conference #17 devised by Marin Blažević and Bojan Jablanovec.
Authors and performers: Marko Mandić, Anna Teresa Scheer, P.A. Skantze, Nicolas Salazar-Sutil, Erik Lichte Fischer, Marin Blažević.
Production: Via Nova performances produced by Via Negativa and supported by Ministry of Culture of RS and the City of Ljubljana.
Venue and date: UCK Theaterzaal, Utrecht, 27 May 2011, as a part of Performance Studies international Conference #17, Utrecht
Duration: 3 hours