RENEW 2013

The 5th International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology

Riga / October 8 – 11, 2013

"Archaelogy" Participants


Digital Performance Art. An on and offline game

Session:Media Archeology

Panel:Presentation Session


Venue:Stockholm School of Economics, room 311

Digital Performance Art. An on and offline game Digital Performance Art as is part of the general realm of performance art. Besides some ‘traditional’ performance characteristics, digital performance has its own features involving new media elements. Steve Dixon defined digital performances as all performances in which computer technologies play ‘a key role rather than a subsidiary one in content, techniques, aesthetics, or delivery form.’ These technological features in combination with embodiment can result in disturbed and multi-layered bodily experiences for those who (inter)act in the work. In many digital performances the audience takes over the role of the performer-artist. In this article I draw upon this changing role of the audience in digital performances using Susan Collins (1964) interactive work In Conversation (1997). In this article, I argue that the role of the audience has changed from a passive member of the audience that observes art from a distance, into an active participant user, ‘infiltrating’ the artwork with a particular purpose, or role. I will show that participation and active bodily involvement of the audience are, besides the key role of computer technologies, inevitable aspects for the case-study In Conversation. Digital performances should not only be defined as performances involving computer technologies, but the essential involvement of a body (whether this is an audience member’s body, performer’s body or a tele-body) and the indispensable interactivity are key issues as well. I will finish this article with the conclusion that this interrelation of digital technology, the body and interactivity are essential elements for the productivity and efficacy of digital performances.

Reba Wesdorp MA is an art theorist and writer on (digital) performance art and interactive media. She is currently working at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, The Netherlands as a researcher on innovative visualisation techniques, as well as being a lecturer on Research and Discourse and the coordinator of the department of Graphic Design. In her writings she combines theories of art, theatre, game design and interaction design. She is currently preparing a PhD proposal on performativity in graphic and interactive design.

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